The Valdosta Daily Times
“The Impossible” (Drama: 1 hour, 54 minutes)
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Rated: PG-13 (Intense disaster sequences, strong language and nudity)
Movie Review: Maria (Watts) Henry (McGregor), Lucas (Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast) are a family spending their 2004 Christmas in Thailand. Their lives are devastated after a major tsunami hits Southeast Asia on Dec. 26. The family must survive amidst chaos, dangers, and the humanity that binds them to others also affected by the tsunami.
Based on a true story, this is a 2012 Oscar-nominated screenplay. It is an exceptional film, one of the most touching screenplays. It impresses continuously, but it resides on emotional sentiment more than continued genius.
“Impossible” easily moves from an energetic survival story to a touching piece showing humanity at some of its better moments. It is a display of bravery, compassion and kindness.
Watts, McGregor and Holland are superb. Watts is always brilliant as an actress. “Mulholland Drive” (2001) and “21 Grams” (2003) are notables for her. Her great attribute is her ability to make herself tangible as a character. She accomplishes that and more as Maria.
McGregor shines as a father facing dire consequences. A crying scene with him is one of the most touching.
Tom Holland is especially talented. He easily rivals his adult co-stars in this, his second movie role. His scenes with Watts are some of the best cinematic moments.
While a great film, “Impossible” does have its detractions. The film plays as almost two movies. One is with Watts and Holland, and the other is with McGregor, Joslin and Pendergast. The mixture does not play well at the beginning. The scenes do not merge until nearly the conclusion, almost an hour and a half into this drama. On one hand, this is brilliant. It makes one wonder what is happening to the other half of the family. It puts viewers in the same mode as those having survived this tragedy — wondering if a family member survived, too.
Along this same train of thought, the film can also irritate because it leaves one pondering too much about what is happening about certain members of the cast. Also, the two seeming halves of “Impossible” are uneven. The scenes with Watts and Holland are greater moments, making the other half appear lesser.
Moreover, the producers of this film should have said it is an adaptation of a true story. The real family that serves as a basis for this plot is Spanish, and they were in Japan. Director Bayona (“The Orphanage,” 2007), a Spanish filmmaker, perhaps saw casting an English family as a means to obtain a larger world audience in major markets. Notably, the actual family agreed to the changes.
These detractions do not take away this solid drama’s momentum to remain an emotive story. Combine that with neat, realistic visuals and solid performances from a skilled cast, and this drama is impressive. Audiences should find every moment riveting.
Grade: B+ (The possible achieved.)
“Warm Bodies” (Romantic Comedy/Horror: 1 hour, 38 minutes)
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry and John Malkovich
Director: Jonathan Levine
Rated: PG-13 (Violence, gore and profanity)
Movie Review: Most zombie apocalypse stories feature gory members of the walking dead eating people constantly. This aspect is present in this zombie-based production, but it is not the focus. It plays more like a romantic film with laughs.
Hoult (“A Single Man,” 2009) is R, a zombie who finds his life is going nowhere. He spends his time walking around a major airport looking for humans to eat. R’s life changes when he encounters Julie (Palmer). R is instantly attracted to Julie. Even more, R falls in love. His feelings toward Julie begin to change R from zombie back to a living being. As the two form a greater bond, their emotive connection begins to transform other zombies, too.
Hoult appears to enjoy himself. He plays a zombie with a certain energy that works. His relationship with Palmer gradually grows in a believable manner. Their relationship is just one of the means Director Levine (“50/50,” 2011) allows this film to be an easy-going, just-go-with-it production. That approach works. This is an enjoyable film, an adaptation of Isaac Marion’s novel.
Very few frightful moments exist. Romance is the basis for this better-than-expected movie. Hoult, as a zombie, and Palmer, as one of the last surviving humans, make an unusual pairing. However, they work. They create a love story that charms.
Grade: B (Warm bodies should fill cinemas for this unique romance.)
“Bullet to the Head” (Action/Crime: 1 hour, 32 minutes)
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Jason Momoa, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Christian Slater
Director: Walter Hill
Rated: R (Profanity, violence and nudity)
Movie Review: Stallone on screen reminds one of yesteryear. He makes one recall why he is a world-known persona of moviedom. He makes this film enjoyable as its lead.
Based on Alexis Nolent’s graphic novel, James Bonomo (Stallone), a.k.a. Jimmy Bobo, a hit-man for hire, and Washington, D.C., detective Taylor Kwon (Kang) hunt down the men responsible for the death of their respective associates in New Orleans. They join forces, but their union is not a happy one. Soon, they find themselves involved in an underworld of crooked cops, mercenaries led by Keegan (Momoa), shady attorney Marcus Baptiste (Slater) and ruthless businessman Robert Nkomo Morel (Akinnuoye-Agbaje).
If action is what one seeks, this piece is for you. Stallone is top-notch as an action star. Age has not slowed his appeal to take on physical roles or sling one-liners with the best. Here, Stallone easily makes his character likable, although the guy is not a good person. He kills people for a living, yet he is honorable in his own set of standards.
Kang plays Stallone’s reluctant partner adequately. Stallone overshadows Kang, but the Korean-American actor holds his own. They join other cast members in making this an enjoyable film.
The best part of this film remains the one-liners. They are mainly offered by Stallone with a masculine zeal that entertains, often causing laughter. If those words do not entertain, the violent action sequences will substitute for the slack.
Grade: B- (Worth a few bullets.)