A Watered Down Disaster Movie
I've always enjoyed the original "The Poseidon Adventure" and so when the remake "Poseidon" hit the big screens in 2006 I was annoyed that somehow I managed to miss the boat and it disappeared before I had chance to see it. So when I got a chance to watch "Poseidon" I could not wait, especially as I am a huge fan of the disaster movie genre. Although being slightly entertaining I have to say I finished watching it feeling slightly disappointed as I was expecting to watch an edge of your seat, adrenalin packed ride which would get your heart pumping. But instead I watched an entertaining, but middle of the road disaster movie which seemed to draw on far too many influences from other movies than being creative and original.
It's New Years Eve on the Poseidon, a luxury ocean liner, and as the celebrations in the ships ballroom get under way to welcome in the New Year, it looks like everyone is going to have a good time. That is until a gigantic rogue wave engulfs the Poseidon, causing it to capsize in scenes of utter disarray and carnage. As the ships captain tries to reassure the remaining survivors that if they remain calm and stay in the ballroom a rescue party will be with them in a few hours, a small group decide that they would be better of trying to find their own way out.
To be honest the main storyline in "Poseidon" is completely unoriginal, which comes as no surprise seeing this is a remake of the 1972 version "The Poseidon Adventure", but also because it is in the disaster movie genre which seems to continually suffer from limited storylines. In the case of "Poseidon" the story focuses on the attempts of a small band of survivors who try to escape the sinking ship, at which point we are treated to numerous stereotypical scenes which could have been plucked out from any disaster movie, such as explosions, falling elevators and of course a rather predictable and over the top climax which left me cringing at its cheesiness. Please do not get me wrong as I actually enjoyed "Poseidon", but the ending is one of the worst I have seen in a disaster movie for a few years.
What helps to save "Poseidon's" storyline from being too predictable are the additional sub plots revolving around the characters. These include a single father who is forced to learn that his little girl has grown up and the bachelor who turns from being self centred in to a caring friend. These additional elements may not be brilliant, but they add a little depth to "Poseidon" and really assist in keeping the movie moving as well as enjoyable.
Another annoyance with "Poseidon" is the script, as it is littered with cliche/ cheesy dialogue which again could have been plucked from a number of other disaster movies. Examples of this cliche dialogue include lines such as "I just gotta hear you say you love me" just as one of the survivors prepares to face impending doom in order to save the others. But despite the cheesiness of such lines, they fit perfectly within the atmosphere of "Poseidon" and I doubt that any really meaningful dialogue would have worked in a movie which delivers entertainment via other means than the story and dialogue.
So what are the other means that manages to make "Poseidon" an entertaining movie, quite simply the special effects. They are good and help to drive the movie forwards, but yet again, they do suffer from being rather predictable as although spectacular they are rather unoriginal and bring nothing new to the genre. For example a scene where are intrepid survivors attempt to cross an elevator shaft whilst the elevator looks likely to plummet on top of them, is brilliantly shot but has been used over and over again and you can guess the outcome within a few seconds of the scene starting. Saying that, some of the special effects are pretty impressive, none more so than the scene which features the rogue wave engulfing the ship which although is a CGI effect is remarkably realistic.
Also helping to keep "Poseidon" entertaining are some reasonable performances from a few prominent actors. Vying for leading man we have Kurt Russell as Robert Ramsey and Josh Lucas as Dylan Johns both with different aspects to their characters but both basically the movies main heroes. Although Russell may be starting to show signs of his advancing years he still manages to hold his own as an action hero, but it his characterization of a father who realises that his daughter is now a woman which grabbed my attention as their was a great deal of realism about it. On the other hand you have Josh Lucas who would not be my first choice as an action hero but again pulls it off with relative ease, but like Russell it is the other element of his character which really grabbed me. He starts off as quite self centred, always on the look out for number one, but through out "Poseidon" you watch his character grow as he becomes less selfish and more concerned with those around him.
Also putting in a good performance is Richard Dreyfuss as the depressed Richard Nelson, which is definitely a change of role from the usual comic fare which you associate with him. Plus Kevin Dillon gives "Poseidon" a bit of subtle humour as the brash Lucky Larry, who seems to struggle with the dominance of Robert Ramsey. Also making up the main cast we have Emmy Rossum, Jacinda Barrett, Jimmy Bennett and Mia Maestro all of which put in decent performances which add to the overall enjoyment of the movie.
What may come as some surprise is that taking the directional reign behind "Poseidon" is Wolfgang Peterson who brought us the brilliant "Das Boot" and the watery masterpiece "The Perfect Storm". I say it may come as a surprise as comparing the two aforementioned movies too "Poseidon" makes it looks like a very poor cousin with big ideas but not enough clout to use them. To be honest it looks like Peterson had a list of classic disaster movie scenes to include and was ticking them off as soon as he included them without really capitalizing on them. This seems even more evident when you look at the fact that at just 94 minutes long, "Poseidon" is one of the shortest disaster movies I have watched.
What this all boils down to is that for a movie which seemed to receive quite a bit of hype I was actually a little bit disappointed with "Poseidon". Not to the extent that I don't like the movie, far from it, but I expected so much more from a modern disaster movie. Although the movie suffers from a lot of predictable scenes and dialogue, it still remains an entertaining experience which will no doubt please anyone who is unfamiliar with this genre or not seen the original. At just 94 minutes it does feel quite short but in hindsight this may be a good thing as anything any longer would probably have felt like it was dragging on.