J.A. Bayona


Zombie fans were ready to attack World War Z with their criticisms well before it even hit theaters. Not only was there every indication going in that the film had very little to do with its source material, a book by Max Brooks that was wildly popular with horror fans, but there were also constant reports of troubles with the script and the budgeting of the movie, problems that eventually resulted in its entire ending being re-conceptualized and re-shot. Those aren’t exactly the kind of indicators that instill confidence in potential customers. Really, by the time World War Z came and went from theaters, all of the talk that went down in the build up to its release proved to be a moot point though. Not only did the film prove to be a financial success despite all the doom and gloom from film pundits that proceeded its release, but it also proved to be just about as much of a failure with critics as it was a success at the box office—and for reasons that had nothing to do with how far it diverged away from its source material.


ja bayona

The Impossible is a tough movie for many reasons. With a real-life tragedy of this magnitude, if the smallest moment comes off as what we usually label as “entertainment,” the movie can become offensive with any hint of Roland Emmerich-ness. Director J.A. Bayona seems well-aware of this fact, as he was sure the right choices were made from the start. Bayona didn’t want to make a “disaster” picture, but rather a faithful, emotional experience set through the eyes of a Western family during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Not only is bringing those feelings to screen a major storytelling challenge, but it’s also a technical one. Here’s what Bayona had to say about being his own audience, why he may be romantic for film, and the many challenges of The Impossible. 


Screen Shot 2012-12-19 at 10.19.58 PM

J.A. Bayona’s film The Impossible is based on the true story of a Spanish family who survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami as they were taking a Christmas vacation at a Thailand resort. We know from real life and from the film’s trailer that the whole family survives, and while separated by the disaster, eventually find their way back to each other – so giving that piece of information away in this review isn’t a spoiler, per se. And the film doesn’t hinge on that piece of information, it’s more concerned with the power of each family members’ individual wills to find each other and survive until they do. The film features some great acting performances, though its direction is sometimes a mixed bag of manipulative melodrama and suspenseful moments of dread. Changed from a Spanish to an English family in the film, the Bennetts are a well-off family living in Japan. Henry (Ewan McGregor) is a businessman whose job is perhaps in jeopardy and his wife Maria (Naomi Watts) is a doctor who has taken some time off to raise their three sons, Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin), and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast). They try to set all family tensions aside as they take a family vacation to an exclusive resort in Thailand for Christmas. When spending some time poolside one afternoon, the tsunami suddenly strikes, leaving a severely injured Maria with Lucas, and Henry with the youngest two children. The film nearly occurs in two sections: the first […]


The Impossible Release Date

As Hollywood continues its recovery from the hellfire that was Comic-Con, we’re getting inundated with news that falls under the “clean up” category – news like release dates and 84 new pictures from The Dark Knight Rises. Not content to let DreamWorks and Fox Searchlight steal all of today’s incredible exciting release date-setting thunder, Lionsgate has finally given a date to J.A. Bayona‘s The Impossible. The Naomi Watts- and Ewan McGregor-starring drama about a family surviving the 2004 tsunami will hit New York and Los Angeles on December 21st. The film was made back in 2010 and, since then, fans of Bayona (The Orphanage) have been eagerly anticipating his take on the tragedy. However, this December release date will pit the film against such big openers as Jack Reacher, This Is 40, and Kathryn Bigelow’s next. It will also have to contend with openers from the week before, like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Les Miserables. What a cheery holiday! After the break, take a look at a stunning, stirring Spanish teaser for the film.


A horrific tale of ghosts in a spooky house, it is just the sort of movie you would expect to interest Sr. del Toro.


The Orphanage doesn’t just ascend, it soars. One can only hope that Guillermo Del Toro has started a yearly tradition of a gothic horror film from Spain being released in the U.S.


The filmmakers seem to be trying to leave it up to us whether the film is meant to be taken symbolically or not, but if we were to take it that way it wouldn’t make any sense.

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published: 02.01.2015
published: 01.31.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015

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