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Blu-ray Review: ‘The Impossible’

“The Impossible” is based on the real-life account of Spanish survivor Maria Belon and her family during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that struck the coast of Thailand.

This moving tale directed by Juan Antonio Bayona debuts on a single-disc Blu-ray package containing the film’s Blu-ray, UV digital, and digital download copies. Its main stars include Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, and Tom Holland. Watts’ utterly convincing and visceral performance led to her Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards and her Best Actress wins at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild.

This riveting and inspirational dramatization of one family’s struggle in the real-life catastrophe that killed nearly 300,000 people turns the original Spanish characters into a British family without necessarily manipulating details of Belon’s account. Using a straightforward, semi-documentary presentation with no extraneous subplots and hyper-dramatic scenes, the film begins with a picturesque beachfront resort showing tourists and locals enjoying their Christmas vacation. However, things suddenly turn upside down when the colossal wave, in a split second, carries away everything in sight. The central family’s short-lived bliss transforms into pure terror as they are swept away and separated by the rumbling waters.


Shot in quasi-verité style, the picture poignantly displays the brutality of a disaster, the pain of loss, and the power of the human spirit. The shattered lives of the main family, along with tens of thousands of strangers, can puncture the emotional core of just about anyone with a heart. The production technically impresses with its command of special effects and its camera choices. Devoid of any detrimental visual flaw, shot compositions showcase awesome depth of field for the wide shots and fine object detail in the tight shots. Colors always look deeply saturated and accurate, whether in moments of serenity or horror.


The disc boasts two lossless five-channel tracks, one in English and another in Spanish. The formidable force of the cascading tide serves as the most memorable element in the mix. It gets the audience out of their comfort zones to bring them closer to the actual experience of the devastating phenomenon.

The highly directional mix’s sterling fidelity, awesome dynamic range, marvelous clarity, potent surrounds, and thunderous LFE maximize every aural component, from the harsh rumbles to the subtle accents, without any break-up or distortion. The crisp dialogue never gets lost with all the activities. The enveloping musical score blends well into the entire audio fabric.


The package offers a handful of supplements including an audio commentary track with director J.A. Bayona, writer Sergio Sanchez, producer Belen Atienza, and tsunami survivor Maria Belon, a collection of deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer, and the production materials “Casting The Impossible Featurette” and “Realizing The Impossible Featurette.” Subtitles are available in English, English SDH, and Spanish.

Final Thoughts

“The Impossible” is an affecting mainstream picture that rightfully maintains an intimate focus without ignoring the larger canvas. Its commendable simplicity keeps its central message in the right perspective — capturing the physical and emotional tolls of the catastrophe with integrity, sensitivity, and grace. Treating its topic with reverence, it inspires without alienating the viewers, which compensate for any of its inert stretches.

From the lyrical gorgeousness of the location before destruction strikes, to the frighteningly realistic, in-the-moment cruelty of the giant waves washing everyone and everything away in its wake, to the overwhelming strain and exhaustion of survivors during the aftermath of the tragedy, this film genuinely crafts the story’s small, interpersonal moments through brilliant direction and marvelously extracted performances.

Rianne Hill Soriano
Rianne is a director, writer, educator, and consultant in film and commercial productions. From mainstream essentials to independent flair, she knows the drill in making entertaining and well-meaning productions. She can lead a pack passionate about extreme action and technological edge; she can breathe an endearing and sentimental style for a team with a sweet disposition.

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