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Opening: The Impossible 

Based on the true story of a Spanish family that somehow survived the horrible tsunami that ripped through Thailand in 2004, the new film from Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage) benefits from the fact that it has a natural arc that naturally lends itself to the big screen. Bayona does a good job of not letting the special effects get in the way, either, as he focuses on developing character rather than detailing the scope of the disaster (though he successfully does that, too). When the mighty wave arrives on shore and wipes out the resort at which the family is staying, they’re all put to the test. Lucas (Tom Holland) and his mother (Naomi Watts) are separated from the rest of the family, including Maria’s husband and Lucas’s father Henry (Ewan McGregor). While he capably spun a supernatural horror story with The Orphanage, Bayona mostly keeps things realistic here and lets the actors take over. Covered in mud and blood, Watts is excellent and the same goes for McGregor. Holland has plenty of screen time and he makes good use of it; he’s terrific as the 12-year-old kid who’s essentially the film’s central character as he goes through a rites of passage as a result of the disaster.

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