There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Maria (Naomi Watts) and Henry (Ewan McGregor) have taken their family on a vacation to Thailand for the holidays. They have three sons—Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin), and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast)—and are hoping to have a relaxing Christmas while soaking up the sun around the beach resort. Not long after arriving, however, their vacation quickly turns into a horrific nightmare beyond anything they could have imagined. While spending the day at the pool, a pool that was full of life and laughter only moments ago, everyone has become silent. They hear screams and earth-shaking crashes off in the distance, and it is drawing closer. Suddenly, they realize what is causing the commotion: a monstrous tsunami unlike anything they have ever seen.
The tsunami gave little warning, and it left almost no time for Maria, Henry, and their kids to react. There was nowhere for them to hide, and the tsunami came crashing down on all of them. Maria and Lucas have woken up close to one another, but in their desperation to reach each other and survive, they have found no sign of the rest of their family. They hope the rest of their family has survived, but their number one priority is to find safety, as neither of them walked away from the first wave unscathed, and it may only be a matter of time before a second wave hits.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Family (+8pts)
Intense & Gruesome (+8pts)
The Screams (-1pts)
The Close Calls (+3pts)
Pro: The Family (+8pts)
There was no overly compelling character in the group that made up the main family of characters in this movie, but I thought the filmmakers did a great job at making us care about them anyway. Henry's concern over the house alarm made the character feel like a real person, Maria's fear of flying did the same for her, and Lucas' fearlessness set him apart from the other two kids, who were really just defenseless characters that the rest would have to look out for. Together they made for a family of characters that you will want to see survive, which will put you directly on the edge of your seat during this movie's intense moments, and there were a lot of them. In a movie like this, the audiences' concern for the protagonists is the key to making the audience care about the entirety of the movie.
If the audience did not care about the family, then this would have been a meaningless, straight-to-dvd sort of disaster movie, but that was not what happened here. I liked watching Maria, who previously admitted to being easily scared, becoming fearless when she needed to save her child. I also liked watching Lucas—who had your typical teen, non-caring sort of attitude—rise up when he needed to help his mom and others. Without a strong family to root for, there would have been nothing for the audience to get invested in. Fortunately, that was not the case, as this was the sort of family that you will want to see get through this, and they will leave you firmly on the edge of your seat during this movie's more intense moments.
Con: Predictable (-2pts)
After the tsunami hit, the filmmakers kept us in the dark about the fate of some of the characters, but I thought this was pretty predictable. It felt like we were being deliberately kept in the dark, which made me certain about whether or not they survived. Given how obvious it was, I thought the filmmakers dragged it on longer than they needed to, and I think they should have revealed those characters‘ fates sooner. Then the reveal happened, and after that, I had a pretty good idea how the rest of the story would go. There was one key piece of the puzzle that I was not certain about, but I knew how pretty much everything else would go, and that took a lot of the suspense out of the story. Fortunately, I was totally invested in this family by then, so this was not a major issue, but both the reveal and the ending were fairly predictable.
Pro: Intense & Gruesome (+8pts)
Did I say this movie had some intense moments? Well it definitely did. From the sight of the incoming tsunami, to the devastation and chaos that it caused, this movie had a lot of intense moments. It was weird though, because it was at its most intense early on—when the tsunami hit—and then it progressively got less intense, as we became further removed from the impact of the tsunami. Fortunately, I did not mind the progressively declining intensity, because the intensity that was in here early on, and the family's story afterward, more than made up for it. The devastation really instilled a sense of hopelessness, and the intensity was driven from still wanting the protagonists to survive, while wondering what on earth you would do if you were in their place.
There were some gruesome moments as well. The filmmakers wanted you to be shocked with some of the things that happened. They clearly did not want a dumbed-down version of the destruction that a tsunami is capable of, and I agreed with that decision. The gore was not just meaningless gore. It was gruesome, sure, but everything had a weight to it that made every cut and bump and injury feel absolutely brutal. These characters went through hell, and that was made very clear through the filmmakers choice to make their injuries appear gruesome and painful.
Con: The Screams (-1pts)
Okay, this was a very minor issue, but Naomi Watts screams got pretty annoying in the few scenes that took place right after the tsunami hit. Do not get me wrong, her character was definitely in a lot of pain, and those screams may have been realistic, but this was a movie, and the screams got kind of annoying. Her screams were frequent, they were unsettling, and I thought the filmmakers should have dialed them down a bit. Fortunately, she stopped doing it after a few scenes, and I thought it was a pretty minor issue even while it was happening, but in a movie with so few other issues, it ended up being worth mentioning. That should tell you something.
Pro: The Close Calls (+3pts)
I watched this movie with a few other people, and one thought that these close call moments were ridiculous, but I disagreed. These close call moments were moments where two characters who were looking for each other were so close to crossing each other’s paths, but they just missed each other. These moments were obviously written into this story, but they worked because as close as the characters were to each other, they had no way of knowing it. As close as they were, they were basically on different planets, and I thought that was pretty interesting. I knew they would eventually cross each other’s paths, but I thought the close call moments that took place before that happened were really engaging.
Con: Focus (-4pts)
As bad as the main characters of this movie had it, other characters had it much, much worse. As good as this movie was, I think the filmmakers could have brought it to another level if they had focused more on other families or characters with more tragic stories. Do not get me wrong, the main characters of this movie did not have it easy, but they came out of it far better off than a lot of other people. By focusing so heavily on a group of people that basically got the best case scenario, it sort of took some of the weight away from what happened. Knowing how this story ended, I think the movie would have been better served if we got two families or groups. One could have still been the family that we got in this movie, but another could have been a group of characters with a much more tragic story. It would have shed more light on the tragedy that many real people endured after this tsunami, but it also would have made us feel the gratefulness of the Henry and Maria's luck even more, which would have made the ending quite a bit more impactful.
Grade: B+ (87pts)
I am not entirely sure how I completely missed this movie in 2012, but I saw that it just popped up on Netflix, and it looked pretty interesting. I expected an average-to-decent disaster movie, but I ended up liking it a lot. The main reason for this was how well the filmmakers established the family that made up this story's main characters. None of them were overly complex or compelling on their own, but they formed a family that was easy to care about, and both Maria and Lucas' growth through this disaster was admirable, and it made them a duo that I enjoyed watching.
This movie was predictable at times, and I thought the filmmakers failed to capitalize on the impact that this premise could have made, by choosing to focus entirely on a family that pretty much got the best case scenario out of the whole ordeal. Fortunately, these issues were relatively minor, as the movie was pretty darn intense, and the filmmakers used gore in the most effective way, as it added weight to every injury, which made this disaster feel very real. I also liked the close call moments, as they will make you want to yell at your screen, knowing how close they were to finding each other and still feeling as if they were world's apart. There were some issues here, but it was an intense disaster movie about a family that will get you hooked in their story of survival.