Tom Holland has played Spider-Man on screen in 5 films now. He was cast in the role back in 2015 and, 4 years later, he has become a huge household name. Nowadays he’s a pin-up for teenage girls as well as women who are probably old enough to know better. He was only 17 when he first got the role but now he’s at the ripe old age of 23 Marvel feel the need to have him take his shirt off whenever he can. It must be super weird having grown up in the public eye to now find yourself the object of lust for so many people. In the screening I went to, one teenage girl in the front row audibly squealed when he took his shirt off and took a photo of the screen. We’ve come a long way since Holland made his feature film debut in The Impossible. He’s certainly come a long way from that 14-year-old boy. As I’d never seen The Impossible, mostly because I knew it would destroy me, I decided now was as good a time as any. Plus, it was on Netflix so, convenient.
The Impossible is a film based on the experience of María Belón and her family during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Although, because it’s Hollywood, María and her family have been transformed into Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, and their English children. This was done, it was claimed, to present a universal story where nationalities weren’t important but it was definitely more to do with getting big names involved. But I guess it isn’t that important to the overall story. After all, they were just trying to tell the story of one family surviving a major disaster and trying to find their way back to each other.
Maria and Henry Bennett are celebrating Christmas with their three sons in Khao Lak, Thailand. The Orchid Beach Resort where they are staying seems perfect. Whilst having fun by the pool on Boxing Day, the hotel is hit by the Tsunami. Maria and her eldest son, Lucas, are swept away by the current but manage to find each other. Maria is seriously wounded but Lucas helps get her to safety. They are picked up by a group of locals searching for survivors and taken to a nearby hospital. Lucas is forced to watch his mother lie in pain until she can be given the treatment she needs. Meanwhile, Henry and his other two sons are safe at the hotel. Henry leaves the boys with a busload of people heading for the mountains whilst he searches for Maria and Lucas. With so many wounded to search for, will the family ever find each other?
Considering what it was trying to achieve, The Impossible does a great job. We’ve seen many disaster movies over-the-years but this was based on real-life events. It couldn’t just be another Hollywood action movie that was all about the stunts and the schmaltz. Though there is a fair amount of both of these, The Impossible doesn’t fail to show the true horror that families went through and the camaraderie that came out of it. Do I think more could have been made of the important part that the Thai people had in helping tourists? Yeah, I guess so but I think the thought it there. This isn’t a completely whitewashed Hollywood film and there is a respect for everyone who helped.
I admit that the script is a little dodgy and there is a certain amount of Hollywood fairytale going on. It all seems a bit too flimsy when you see what else this film has going for it. The direction and the acting are so good that the script is the major thing letting the whole thing down. Thankfully, Naomi Watts is such a powerhouse that she makes everything seem so real. The pain Maria feels is so realistic that it’s difficult not to be affected by it. Every scene she is in is utterly mesmerising and her scenes with Tom Holland are perfect. Both actors do great things and deal with the physical side of the film really well. The water scenes are horrible to watch and certainly don’t disrespect the real story. Ewan McGregor has some great moments but none can beat his phonecall home. It’s a truly emotional moment that is unforgettable.
The Impossible does a commendable job at portraying the real-life story of the Tsunami survivors. Thanks to carefully handled stunts and amazing acting, this film does an amazing job of showcasing the life-changing event. It will have you in floods of tears and utterly broken by the end.