The Impossible

User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 289 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 13 out of 289

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User Reviews

  1. Jan 28, 2013
    6
    The movie, in my opinion, is a mixed bag. Some of the scenes are done perfectly yet others are so cheesy that I cringed when I was watching it.
    The phrase "like in a bad Hollywood movie" was coming to mind. The script could definitely be better. Cinematography is impeccable. Kids are not always acting believably. Overall, the movie is good but definitely not great.
  2. Jan 9, 2013
    9
    As a drama film far better than Avatar & Co., mostly due to three reasons: The whole film is based on a true story and, of course, an actual event, which makes it so threedimensional. Secondly, there are amazing actors, especially an astonishing Tom Holland, who will surely get a row of offers after his critcally performance. And thirdly the amazing story and enactment of the fatal 26.As a drama film far better than Avatar & Co., mostly due to three reasons: The whole film is based on a true story and, of course, an actual event, which makes it so threedimensional. Secondly, there are amazing actors, especially an astonishing Tom Holland, who will surely get a row of offers after his critcally performance. And thirdly the amazing story and enactment of the fatal 26. December 2004, which is geniusly directedand well written. If you watch it, bring enough tissue with you!!! Expand
  3. Jan 20, 2013
    8
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. No suelo ver películas que puedan estimular el fenómeno secreto-motor complejo que es caracterizado por derramar liquido del aparato lagrimal, evito al máximo la punzada en el pecho y verme ante la labor de mirar para otras partes intentando buscar fuerzas que me alejen de la escena que me acongoja, sin embargo Expand
  4. Jan 7, 2013
    9
    The 5 members of this family seem real. I teared up several times. Kudos to the director who gets realistic performances from all the actors. It is particularly difficult to get good performances from children but he managed it. It is Naomi Watts, however, that is the centerpiece. The main crux of the film follows her and the oldest son on the path to safety. The Tsunami seemed real, andThe 5 members of this family seem real. I teared up several times. Kudos to the director who gets realistic performances from all the actors. It is particularly difficult to get good performances from children but he managed it. It is Naomi Watts, however, that is the centerpiece. The main crux of the film follows her and the oldest son on the path to safety. The Tsunami seemed real, and there is a cast of thousands around the hospital. Not sure how they filmed it but it is quite an achievement. I'm not sure I would ever want to see the film again - much of it is hard to watch, but overall a very affective film that I thought about long after the final credits. Lastly, I would like to mention that the entire movie was given away in the trailer I saw for this movie which is a shame. There is an art to making a trailer that makes you want to see the movie without giving too much away and more and more movies are giving away too much of the plot. Expand
  5. Jan 3, 2013
    9
    The Impossible. As close as you will ever want to get to a natural disaster let alone one of the worst in recorded history. The movie is not all about when the waves hits, with the emotional performances of Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts hitting just as hard. Some amazing visuals and sound design from an up and coming Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona. Interesting how I was left feelingThe Impossible. As close as you will ever want to get to a natural disaster let alone one of the worst in recorded history. The movie is not all about when the waves hits, with the emotional performances of Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts hitting just as hard. Some amazing visuals and sound design from an up and coming Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona. Interesting how I was left feeling at the end which I believe is the point. I would say a must see movie. Expand
  6. Jan 4, 2013
    8
    Very good film, good character development, the eldest son in the film is outstanding, and as you'd expect Ewan Mcgregor and Naomi watts are very good, the scene where the wave hits is very powerful and the special effects are brilliant . Throughout the film i heard many people in the cinema cry, i didn't but i was very close, the eyes were glossing over believe me. Go and watch it, youVery good film, good character development, the eldest son in the film is outstanding, and as you'd expect Ewan Mcgregor and Naomi watts are very good, the scene where the wave hits is very powerful and the special effects are brilliant . Throughout the film i heard many people in the cinema cry, i didn't but i was very close, the eyes were glossing over believe me. Go and watch it, you won't regret it :) Expand
  7. Jan 14, 2013
    5
    The Impossible is a movie about a family that goes on vacation to Thailand and had to survive to the tsunami. As the title of the film suggest this story is impossible to believe, although is based on true events. The plot is constructed by the separation of this five member family, in two: the mother with the older son and the father with the two following children, so they are supposedThe Impossible is a movie about a family that goes on vacation to Thailand and had to survive to the tsunami. As the title of the film suggest this story is impossible to believe, although is based on true events. The plot is constructed by the separation of this five member family, in two: the mother with the older son and the father with the two following children, so they are supposed to find each other, yet they must not only endure physical pain, but also break psychological barriers, like fears, solitude, forced independence, hopelessness and post traumatic shock. Because of that this is a story of big magnitudes, treats topics like courage, hope, never giving up, facing fears and overcoming problems. The most outstanding thing of the picture, apart from the devastation images, are the performances: Naomi Watts is fine, but Tom Holland, as Lucas, is absolutely brilliant. The only problem is that The Impossible does not have nothing new to present, the stage is different, but the message is not original at all. Expand
  8. Feb 6, 2013
    6
    "The Impossible" is a solid, well-made disaster film fueled by the human spirit fighting for survival with fine performances, especially by Naomi Watts. "The Impossible" faces and never quite overcomes, Ocean tsunami sets up an excellent premises in terms of showing the audience the aftermath of such an extravagant human atrocity. However, "The Impossible" feels every bit average, never"The Impossible" is a solid, well-made disaster film fueled by the human spirit fighting for survival with fine performances, especially by Naomi Watts. "The Impossible" faces and never quite overcomes, Ocean tsunami sets up an excellent premises in terms of showing the audience the aftermath of such an extravagant human atrocity. However, "The Impossible" feels every bit average, never rising above its own genre conventions--but it compensates with fine performances and outstanding realistic effects. The tsunami sets up the plot and the rest of the film-the catastrophic situation allows the audience to sense the aftermath of such an overwhelming human atrocity. However, "The Impossible" feels every bit average, never rising above its own genre conventions. "The Impossible" soon becomes a painful experience to endure; not for the reasons one might expect, either.
    When the tsunami slams into the resort (in the first 15 minutes), Maria (Naomi Watts) and Henry (Ewan McGregor) are taking their family to Thailand for the Christmas period, hoping to enjoy a festive season complete with unflinching sunshine and exotic beaches. Arriving on Christmas Eve, the family rejoice through the 25th, savoring their time together in the island paradise. However, on Boxing Day a massive Tsunami crashes into their resort, leaving them separated and facing one of the nastiest natural disasters of modern times. The first half of the movie unfolds as a survivalist picture, pitting the characters against horrific conditions and devastating conditions--creating gripping tension in the process. There are inspirational moments of perseverance, families reuniting, people pulling together and overcoming. The film's most dramatic sequences focus on Lucas (Todd Holland), assigning himself the role of his mother's lifeguard and protector. However, as the film continues it becomes more disjointed with seamless wandering as it stumbles toward its denouement. In relation to seamless wandering--Ewan McGregor's performance just doesn't nearly stack up next to Naomi's Oscar worthy performance. As the husband, separated from his wife and searching for her, McGregor finds himself walking aimlessly and hopeless-- he does a lot of tripping or falling through floors and screaming. Even worse, it's through McGregor's role that we meet other people searching for family members, and this hint of the broader story makes the movie's little story seem trivial. What Juan Antonio Bayona is trying to do with "The Impossible" is honorable, but it's hampered by a weak script that does absolutely nothing with an endless number of possibilities. There are so many unique and truly tragic stories that spawned from the 2004 tsunami, but it feels like none of these possibilities were explored here. By the end of the film, I was bitterly scoffing to myself as the family was flown away on a private airplane to the safety of another country while many other families were left behind with missing mothers and fathers and sons and daughters. The story of this family just isn't as whole-heartedly inspiring as it could have been. I'm aware of the purpose of each character. They exist only to serve as a component of the guiding narrative that takes us on a "tour" of the aftermath caused by the tsunami. But because of this, the characters are nothing but cardboard cutouts of people. They're not interesting or worth sympathizing for in the most basic cinematic way because there's nothing distinguishing them from the hundreds of thousands of other people. But when watching the actual footage posted on You Tube, and listening to the real victims-- their gut-wrenching stories of their experiences, the movie fails to capture the same reaction of astonishment.
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  9. Apr 25, 2013
    4
    mawkish
    adj.
    1. Excessively and objectionably sentimental. 2. Sickening or insipid in taste. To describe The Impossible as mawkish is like calling Joe Pesci's character in Goodfellas "not nice". The Impossible is one family's story of survival in the aftermath of the tsunami that struck Thailand on Boxing Day in 2004. The special effects used to recreate the tsunami are very
    mawkish
    adj.
    1. Excessively and objectionably sentimental.
    2. Sickening or insipid in taste.

    To describe The Impossible as mawkish is like calling Joe Pesci's character in Goodfellas "not nice".

    The Impossible is one family's story of survival in the aftermath of the tsunami that struck Thailand on Boxing Day in 2004. The special effects used to recreate the tsunami are very impressive. I was saying "Wow" at that point of the movie. As the film progressed, I found myself saying "Wow" in a different manner; while rolling my eyes in disbelief at the acting and dialog. A better title for this flick would have been The Implausible.

    The screenplay is by Sergio G. Sánchez from María Belón's story. Belón is the woman portrayed in the film by Naomi Watts. Since the writers were Spanish, we can only hope that something was lost in translation since I hardly believed any of the characters' words.

    Watts does a decent job in the lead role, and it's a credit to her that she succeeds even to that extent, considering the direction and writing. Other actors don't fare as well. Tom Holland, who plays her son Lucas, shows some promise as an actor, but here he mostly comes off as an overly sentimental caricature. The other main character is the father portrayed by Ewan McGregor. McGregor's "acting" consists mainly of looking anguished in blood-smear makeup while screaming out the names of his family members.

    Director Juan Antonio Bayona has decided that the best way to convey the hardship and emotions experienced by the poor souls who suffered through this ordeal is to show closeups of their faces to the accompaniment of some Williamsesque music done to the nth degree. I could just imagine John Williams (a.k.a. The Big Schmaltzy) sitting in a theater where this was playing, wincing and saying, "Eww, too much music."

    I have to say that I felt a little uncomfortable while watching this movie. Here was a real and devastating tragedy, and I was feeling as much emotion as I do when I watch my computer run a virus scan. Those who suffered through this catastrophe deserve to have their stories told with dignity and gravitas. At the very least they deserve more than this uninspired and maudlin celluloid effort.
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  10. Jan 7, 2013
    10
    The Impossible is one of the best films of 2012. Never has a movie been so depressing and at the same time so uplifting. Naomi watts does an incredible job, but Lucas, her son, is the star of the film. A movie that should be seen, remembered, and not forgotten.
  11. Jan 9, 2013
    10
    Director J A Bayona's vision for this film is simply spectacular. It manages to be extremely emotionally enticing, authentic, visually brilliant, and rooted in showcasing humanity at its finest. The entire acting assemble was flawless, but it was the scenes between Naomi Watts and Tom Holland that made this film so beautiful and real.
  12. Dec 22, 2012
    9
    "The Impossible" was surprisingly effective - it manages to capture what it would be like to actually experience a tsunami - but while those impressive special effects capture the carnage, the Director has also managed to sketch out vivid characters as well. Naomi Watts maintains a focused determination amid the tragedy, while Ewan captures a father a bit more out of control - for reason"The Impossible" was surprisingly effective - it manages to capture what it would be like to actually experience a tsunami - but while those impressive special effects capture the carnage, the Director has also managed to sketch out vivid characters as well. Naomi Watts maintains a focused determination amid the tragedy, while Ewan captures a father a bit more out of control - for reason clear as the story unfolds. Suspenseful and heartbreaking. Expand
  13. Dec 23, 2012
    9
    "The Impossible'' is a true story very intense story of family's survival against the odds.worth checking out for the acting and effects ,and is not a remake movie.
  14. Jan 6, 2013
    10
    Best movie i have ever seen. It's has a lot of heart touching moment that can make you cry . it's was so real that can make you believe in that movie
  15. Dec 23, 2012
    9
    Por mucho que sepas lo que pasará sigue impactando. Parece realmente imposible lo que sucedió. Es difícil no llorar o al menos que se te ponga la piel de gallina. Espectacular, dramática, grandes interpretaciones. Arriba el cine español.
  16. Feb 1, 2013
    4
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Probably the best advertisement for expensive private healthcare that I have ever seen. It was watchable, emotional, and if you like a cry you may like it. Expand
  17. Dec 21, 2012
    10
    The best Spanish film of the history of cinema.
  18. Feb 9, 2013
    10
    This is the most haunting and realistic portrayal of a natural disaster in a movie, that I have ever seen. Naomi Watts and the young actor who plays her eldest son are wonderful. They bring such emotion to the scenes. Maybe I'm a sap, but I cried at the tear-jerking parts. It worked for me and moved fast. One particular scene, where Naomi Watts' character is unconscious during surgeryThis is the most haunting and realistic portrayal of a natural disaster in a movie, that I have ever seen. Naomi Watts and the young actor who plays her eldest son are wonderful. They bring such emotion to the scenes. Maybe I'm a sap, but I cried at the tear-jerking parts. It worked for me and moved fast. One particular scene, where Naomi Watts' character is unconscious during surgery is amazing---how they filmed this movie astounds me. Expand
  19. Feb 3, 2013
    2
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. What am I missing here? This is one of the worst movies I've seen recently.
    The 5-10 minute tidal wave reenactment while spectacularly filmed, can't make up for the hollowness of the remainder of the story. There is barely any character development. But the most frustrating thing is that the viewer already knows the eventual outcome of this whole pointless exercise... that all the family members are still alive and in safe hands, and that they simply need to find one another amongst the chaos of survivors/aid workers. In the real world, one knows that eventually all will be reunited (at the very latest), through a phone line and next-of-kin contact.
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  20. Apr 24, 2013
    0
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. There is no way this movie can have a 73 rating on here. The movie is just so agonizing to watch. To start out with, there is no way the entire family could have survived this, as they show the guy and his two sons taking the full impact of the huge wave at the beginning of the movie. The boys don't even have a scratch. Just ridiculous. The endless sequence of the mother and the other son is just that...never ending moaning and screaming. They show a wound in the mother's right leg that is so huge that there is just no way she could walk, let alone...live. The blood loss would kill her in less than two minutes. The young boys say things young boys would never say in real life, it is way too obvious that they are just saying memorized lines. There is no character development whatsoever. The father leaves his two young boys, possibly all he got left, in the middle of the night to search for his wife and other son who are likely dead He doesn't even know where the boys are going. No father would do that.
    Even the only possibly redeeming scene, the wave hitting land is, cheap and bad. This could easily be Ewan McGregor's worst role. Almost two hours of agony.
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  21. Jan 5, 2013
    7
    It's a much better, more emotional movie than I thought it would be. The actor who plays the oldest son is phenomenal, and he should be considered for a supporting actor nomination come awards season. Naomi Watts is excellent, as usual. The movie as a whole, however, is a touch conventional.
  22. Jan 25, 2013
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Inspired and deeply affecting, notwithstanding some of the churlish notices the film received from snobbish, politically correct critics at the New York Times, The New Yorker et al. One suspects their Liberal dander was aroused because 'The Impossible' depicted the (true) story of a white family that survived a Third World disaster in which People of Color died by the hundreds of thousands. Ignore these intellectually dishonest reviewers. As an achievement in art, 'The Impossible' was excellent in every way -- the best film I've seen so far in 2013. Expand
  23. Aug 19, 2013
    3
    c'The Impossible' is an absorbing, well-shot, well-acted film with convincing special effects. It is based on fact. It provides the experience of having one's family caught in a catastrophe with a vividness few other films have had. My qualm is with the film-makers' decision, faced with an event that killed an estimated eight thousand people in Thailand alone and devastated countlessc'The Impossible' is an absorbing, well-shot, well-acted film with convincing special effects. It is based on fact. It provides the experience of having one's family caught in a catastrophe with a vividness few other films have had. My qualm is with the film-makers' decision, faced with an event that killed an estimated eight thousand people in Thailand alone and devastated countless families, to take for their subject an extraordinarily fortunate family of British tourists who were violently separated and endured terrific trauma, but who managed to find each other and return home with every family member alive.

    The story of this family is pretty inspiring, but should Bayona have considered making a film about a Thai family that did suffer loss, as innumerable families did? Is his message that when calamity strikes us we suffer great terror and difficulty, but it will all be O.K. in the end? And why are nearly all the other people we meet in this movie also European? Why are there so few Thai people? Why does nearly every one speak English? Amid so much destruction, why do we see barely any dead people? Did one of the only films made about this titanic South-East Asian cataclysm really have to star Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts?
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  24. May 25, 2013
    3
    A rather boring flick about a father, mother and three sons who are separated when a tsunami hits. The rest of the film is about them trying to find one another. That's it! The star isn't Naomi Watts but rather all the flotsam and jetsam in the aftermath of the tsunami. There are many more shots of the devastation and debris than there are of her, and for her fans, half the movie featuresA rather boring flick about a father, mother and three sons who are separated when a tsunami hits. The rest of the film is about them trying to find one another. That's it! The star isn't Naomi Watts but rather all the flotsam and jetsam in the aftermath of the tsunami. There are many more shots of the devastation and debris than there are of her, and for her fans, half the movie features Naomi's face full of bruises. I think you can do better. Expand
  25. Dec 25, 2012
    7
    If you've been to the movies in the last couple of months chances are you've seen the trailer for The Impossible. You know pretty people on vacation, the tsunami hits, nature at its worst, tears, screaming. The most manipulative sentimental crap ever. It dared me not to tear up. Forget about that; the actual movie is very good, and while I cried many times it was not manipulative at allIf you've been to the movies in the last couple of months chances are you've seen the trailer for The Impossible. You know pretty people on vacation, the tsunami hits, nature at its worst, tears, screaming. The most manipulative sentimental crap ever. It dared me not to tear up. Forget about that; the actual movie is very good, and while I cried many times it was not manipulative at all but rather a sobering horror story about the dark side of nature and human connection and survival.

    The film tells the true story of one European family of five during the 2004 Tsunami in Thailand. They are British in the movie although Spanish in real life, as is the director J A Bayona (The Orphanage). The set up from the family plane trip to Thailand until the waves hit is intense and scary using horror genre techniques to get you on edge of your seat. Bayona builds up the tension using every trick in the book; the plane turbulence, the distant rumbling sounds of the waves - all serve as ominous signs for the horrors we are about to see. The immediate aftermath is also depicted effectively particularly the confusion, panic and disoreintation and the very horrific loneliness of separated people against nature.

    Bayona has several tricks up his sleeve to keep us entertained and scared. There is a thrilling set up piece in the hospital as the separated family members search for each other. Another is a subplot about a young lost boy found by the family that pays off in a major way both emotionally and as an engrossing plot device.

    Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor play the parents and Tom Holland is the oldest son. All three dig deep to expose how fragile we all are in the face of nature. Watts' character suffers the most both physically and emotionally. The physical part was very hard to look at; her body is battered, bruised and purple all over. However she is magnificent at portraying pain, anguish, resilience and utter and complete fear without resorting to sentimentality. I was mesmerized whenever she was on screen.

    McGregor gives a fully emotional performance;only a hardened soul would not be moved by his break down scene. It is particularly effective because men are never really given a chance to get this emotional in movies. If George Clooney almost won an Oscar for one lousy tear in The Descendants, McGregor should get some hardware for this performance too.

    Holland acts the audience surrogate and we are with him every step of the way. And what a harrowing journey it is. But it's also a very human experience as we watch the young man mature and understand what's important in life.

    Some people may have issue with the movie concentrating on one family's story when the devastation was all consuming. Particularly because said family is white. It's not an issue since the movie does not pretend to be anything but this one family's amazing story of survival. Yes there are millions of similar human stories that happened during the Tsunami and maybe one day we'll see some of them on screen. And if we are lucky maybe one will be from a Thai filmmaker.

    The movie works because of the performances and the genre elements that keep the viewer engaged. Because this disaster was felt in every corner of the world, there might be expectations put on the movie to tell a grander story. It does not but what it tells is interesting and moving.
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  26. Feb 21, 2013
    7
    Driving on intense emotional pain, explicit physical human damage and unbearable scenarios of brutal tragedy and deep suffering, The Impossible is a truly independent disaster movie minus any Hollywood trans fat. Absent of absurd fantastical elements plaguing high-end disaster movies in Hollywood, The Impossible is a film which uses the real disaster of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami andDriving on intense emotional pain, explicit physical human damage and unbearable scenarios of brutal tragedy and deep suffering, The Impossible is a truly independent disaster movie minus any Hollywood trans fat. Absent of absurd fantastical elements plaguing high-end disaster movies in Hollywood, The Impossible is a film which uses the real disaster of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and one family’s compelling true story of survival that surfaced cause of it. The Impossible may not be the best disaster movie ever made nor may it be the greatest parable for the strength of family and the bonds of community, but it sure as hell makes for one deeply satisfying emotional tale of endurance and hope. Re-Telling the story of Maria Belon’s family’s inexplicable survival, The Impossible is a retelling of one family’s journey during one of the worst natural disasters ever recorded. Belon, along with her husband, were vacationing in Thailand from their busy lives back home in Japan. Caught without any warning, Belon and her family held on long and hard enough to live to tell the tale of there family’s unbelievable tale of survival. Drenched with compelling special effects and outstanding stunt work, this was second in comparison to the stellar showcase of Naomi Watts’ acting range. Being in front of the camera the longest and having her story told for the majority of the movie, Watts was harrowing as an injured mother clinging on to her life for the sake of her children. Accompanied by one of the stand-out performances by a newcomer this year, Tom Holland who plays Watts’ son Lucas and her sole companion for the first half of the film, was completely on-point and the two were a dynamic acting duo. The two performances sparkled with life and ingenious moments of sheer beauty. Ewan McGregor did his best and held his own with what seemed like ridiculous plot-points for a father and very little screen time with two child actors (Oaklee Pendergast and Samuel Joslin) who were significantly overshadowed by Holland.
    The film itself owes great credit to its sophomore director Juan Antonia Bayona, whose direction is strategically planned and appreciated throughout the film. Dealing with a narrative with so much room for emotional manipulation, Bayona masterfully paces the film and its stars for small yet powerful instances of truly great human feats.
    The Impossible is a gut-wrentching and heart breaking marvel of a film. Layered with multiple challenges of the people who struggled to survive during a time of hardship and tragedy, The Impossible is a tale of true possible hope for the good in all people to shine. Challenging in not only content and the visuals it presents to the audience, the film is a challenge for people to accept and believe that good exists within everyone, especially during times of strife and extreme hardship. Physically challenging and magnificent, The Impossible is a true example of a small scale film doing it right with large scale heart.
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  27. Feb 15, 2013
    10
    I had low expectations going in but this movie was phenomenal. Such powerful storytelling found in very small moments and superb acting. The disaster scenes are not overdone and this movie does not contain all the cliches that you would expect from a movie of this subject. I don't know why Naomi Watts isn't considered a front-runner for her performance. It was breathtaking.
  28. Jun 11, 2013
    3
    The plot is bold and simple, soundtrack is over the top, and it is mocking the real victims of the disaster by focussing on the supposedly heartbreaking story of some westerners spoiled holiday while 300k died around them.
  29. BKM
    Jun 12, 2013
    5
    The performances are all excellent; particularly those of Watts, McGregor and Holland, and the recreation of the tsunami is terrifyingly real. But The Impossible never really taps into any genuine emotions and it never digs too deeply into the horrific aftermath. It's ultimately a tidy movie about an unfathomable tragedy.
Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 42
  2. Negative: 2 out of 42
  1. The New Yorker
    Reviewed by: David Denby
    Jan 24, 2013
    50
    Movies are good at this sort of brute physicality, but the trouble with The Impossible is that is also tells a rather banal story. [28 Jan. 2012, p.81]
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jan 4, 2013
    80
    This is an affecting and emotional drama about the strength of the human spirit.
  3. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Jan 4, 2013
    88
    Yet as fine as she and Ewan McGregor are as the parents, Tom Holland stands out as eldest son Lucas, a slightly sullen teen who learns to put other people before himself.