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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Poseidon

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Judy Thorburn

Poseidon

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"POSEIDON" - DISASTER FILM DROWNS IN SHALLOW SCRIPT


I’ve come to the conclusion that with all of the remakes that keep spewing out of the Hollywood movie machine, unless they come to the plate with new and better versions, why waste my time. Maybe it depends upon what you are expecting. If being wowed by special effects and action, rather than a story with characters worth caring about is all that’s required to get you going, than Poseidon may be right up your alley. But as far as I am concerned this new, totally revamped version of Irwin Allen’s 1972 disaster flick “The Poseidon Adventure” is technically spectacular, but it fails to deliver the goods character wise by offering a bunch of desperate people I know very little about and could care even less. Lots of hokey dialogue and a “convenient” ending don’t help either.

The main concept of a luxury cruise ship turned upside down after being hit by a massive “rogue” wave in the middle of the ocean with only a few people struggling to stay alive while hundreds have drowned has stayed intact from the original movie. But forget about the old movie that featured Gene Hackman as a priest and Shelley Winters who won an Oscar for her role as an elderly brave Jewish woman. The characters they played or anyone like them is nowhere to be found in Wolfgang Petersen’s $160 million extravaganza, with a new screenplay by Mark Protosevich (The Cell) and shortened title.

Petersen’s no stranger to sea based epics, so it’s a comfortable fit for the director having been at the helm of both the submarine drama “Das Boot” and the fishermen at peril saga, “The Perfect Storm”. What Petersen does bring to the table for Poseidon is a film that showcases spectacular production design by William Sandell, fabulous visual effects supervised by Boyd Shermis along with the ILM artistic wizards who create some stunning CGI, especially with the use of a new technology called computational fluid dynamics that simulates how water reacts with objects. In other words what you get is very realistic, eye-popping visuals.

The heroic lead character in this version is Josh Lucas (he with those gorgeous blue eyes) as Dylan, a loner and professional gambler who finds himself in the predicament of leading a small group of survivors though the wreckage of the cruise ship after it had been hit by the disastrous wave. They include typical clichéd characters as Maggie, a single mother (Jacinda Barrett), her nine year old son Conor (Jimmy Bennett), Robert Ramsey (Kurt Russell) a father traveling with his headstrong daughter Jennifer (Emmy Rossum), her fiance Christian (Mike Vogel), Richard Nelson (Richard Dreyfuss) a gay, suicidal architect recently dumped by his lover (who in a sudden turnaround decides to fight to fight for his life) and of course a fearful stowaway, Elena (Mia Maestro, most recently of TV’s Alias) who made it on to the boat with the help of one of the ship’s young waiters (Freddy Rodgriquez) and an obnoxious drunk named Lucky Larry played by Kevin Dillon, who is simply ridiculous. Andre Braugher has a thankless role as the ship’s Captain and Stacy Ferguson, best known as Fergie of the funky band Black Eyed Peas, has a cameo as the featured ballroom singer and gets to sing two songs before she and the Captain become two of the casualties.

From there on, one scene after another is filled with life threatening narrow escapes through air shafts, vertical climbs, and passageways strewn with dead bodies as fiery explosions and torrential gushes of water threaten to wipe out the few who remain alive. What we get is high tension and suspense, lots of fire and water and, like I said before, virtually no character development. Towards the beginning there is a moment of flirtation between Dylan and Maggie, which goes nowhere and a mention of Ramsey being a former fireman and mayor of New York. Okay fireman comes in handy, but the mayoral mention never figures into the scenario. What’s left is a guessing game of who will be the next to die and who will make it out just in time before the ship inevitably sinks to the ocean floor. I’ve heard that the actors spent a lot of time underwater and did a lot of their own stunt work. Swimming, diving and holding your breath under water for a long period of time can’t be easy. I can reward the cast for their obvious hard work, but unfortunately not the film as a whole.

This version certainly doesn’t hold a candle to the original. Don’t even try comparing it to the superb Oscar winning Titanic, which had all the right elements and drew audiences in emotionally. Investing your hard earned money for a ticket price to see this “Poseidon” adventure is something I can’t recommend. My hopes for a good remake went down with the ship.