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Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star in 'The Impossible'

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

The use of technology in 'The Impossible' is amazing, but 'Impossible' tries too often for strained inspirationalism.

Jose Haros/Summit Entertainment/AP
Naomi Watts (r.) is nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for 'The Impossible.'

Bad vacations don’t get much worse than they do in J.A. Bayona’s “The Impossible,” based on the true story of the Alvarez Belon family caught up in the 2004 tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia, killing thousands of people. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor play the parents of three boys at a Thailand beach resort when disaster strikes. Knocked apart, they spend the rest of the film frantically trying to regroup.

The tsunami sequence is amazing, right up there with the one Clint Eastwood staged in “Hereafter.” (Reportedly it took a year to plan and a month to shoot the special effects.) The human drama is decidedly less impressive: generic suffering, strained inspirationalism. Grade: B- (Rated PG-13 for intense realistic disaster sequences, including disturbing injury images, and brief nudity.)

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