PG, 2hr 5min
Reviewed by Peter Lampp.
Once you see this oh-so-realistic movie, you will never again turn your back on the sea at Himatangi or Foxton.
Break out the hankies for plenty of sad, harrowing and tense scenes in this survival ordeal about the Southeast Asia tsunami of 2004.
The scale of the disaster almost left me traumatised - thanks to the visual special effects by Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona and the scale of that thundering tidal wave.
The speakers almost shook off the walls in Cinema 7, as if we were in Khao Lak in Thailand when the thing was about to strike.
The deathly silence was something else, too, as everything disappeared in the maelstrom under water, as it does when you are tipped arse over kite in the surf.
A superbly manufactured disaster film, it is based on a Spanish family who were washed away from their resort by the tsunami.
While financed by Spanish producers, it is was produced in English, no doubt to aid worldwide sales. The parents, Maria Bennett (Naomi Watts) and husband Henry (Ewan McGregor), and their three sons are washed away and the odds against them surviving are, well, impossible. Thousands didn't, especially local Thais, and those who did survive were dead lucky.
The family are split up by the tsunami and presume each other is kaput.
There are few twists to the plot so to blab would be to spoil, except to say the resort was meant to book the family on the third floor. It might not have mattered because they were outside when things went silent and birds scarpered.
Not once would you figure much of the movie was made in a tank in Madrid, also using miniatures and special effects. The tsunami and its aftermath looked precisely as we saw it on the newsreels at the time.
Watts has deserved an Oscar nomination for this role, playing most of it covered in mud and blood and bedridden in a filthy hospital. Her eldest son, Lucas (Tom Holland), sticks by her after seeing horrors no 12-year-old should see, a fine effort by the 16-year-old from Surrey.
McGregor is overshadowed by Watts, although he does feature in two of the saddest scenes.
The screenplay doesn't match the special effects, nor the acting of some of the support cast.
It added to the realism that Palmerston North Rotary Club volunteers were later at the theatre door collecting money for disaster shelter boxes.
- © Fairfax NZ News