Film Review: Poseidon


Directed by:  Wolfgang PetersenRunning time:  99 mins
Body count:  74

– trailer (quicktime)

Happy new year!  Welcome to the massive cruise ship Poseidon!  Here you can dine on the finest cuisine to live music, get smashed on champagne – and then get smashed by a 100 foot tidal wave.  You can choose to attend one of our many gambling tables, enjoy a heavy roll in the open sea, and watch hundreds of your shipmates break their neck, get electricuted, or even drown.  These are just a few of the countless attractions of this magnificent, upside-down ship.

Several characters – including those played by Richard Dreyfuss, Kurt Russell, Josh (no Im not Matthew McConaughey but my forehead is quite large) Lucas, Kevin Dillon, Jacinda Barrett, Freddy Rodr�guez, etc – find themselves fighting to survive out on the open sea.  Just after the New Year’s party hits full stride a few strokes after midnight, a towering rogue wave smashes into this titanic vessel and its rolled, killing and drowning at least 500 people via electricutions, crushed skulls, broken backs, fire you name it.  The carnage hits fast and deadly, the ship barely floats upside down in the water, and a group of remaining survivors decide they’d better find a way out quick.

Most who know and love the original will enjoy what Poseidon brings back to life.  The disaster/survivor scenario that dominated horror-action films 20-30 years ago with things like The Poseiden Adventure, Earthquake, Towering Inferno – each of them classics for their no-holds-barred mass slaughters while some of your favorite actors and actresses try to survive the carnage.  Poseidon, produced by Irwin Allen (who directed the original), uses CGI as an accent and dominates the tension with a lot of real rushing water.  Word is director Wolfgang Petersen had his actors doing a lot of the stunts themselves, and injuries occured – most of them kept on film whether you catch them or not.  All of this, action-wise, really comes across on film in a positive way.

There are a lot of deaths for horror fans to gaze in awe at.  When the ship rolls bodies are thrown like dolls, cracked and washed away like bugs.  Piles of the dead.  As mentioned, they die all sorts of ways, mostly from drowning.  There is something extremely claustrophobic about a small steel room with no windows or exits filling up with water.  This happens multiple times in the film.  If I was disappointed about anything its that somebody didnt have the balls to go that extra dark mile.  This movie really could have ripped your gut out had the boy and his mom drowned together on either side of the grill, as shown in the trailer.  Alas, “hollywood” had to send in a hero, and gut wrenching empathy is bypassed.  So in the end it does flatten a bit into a slightly reality-lost stretch. 

Beware an ending spoiler here if you need to.  To the others reading on I ask you – how many times have you watched actors and actresses do death scenes in the movies?  I challenge someone to find one better in the past year than Kurt Russell’s drowning scene in Poseidon.  Ive always been partial to Kurt in anything – having led in The Thing and Escape From NY/LA.  He was great in Poseidon.  But in the end of this film, when he gets noble and performs the suicide task (parallel Hackman’s in the original) that will get the rest of them out – his drowning scene rocked.  How real was that shit?  Kurt you rule!

Final Analysis:  Bring back the disaster film!  Back in the day – Towering Inferno combined two movie studios and brought in all their top actors and actresses for an all out survival film.  How fine would that be today?  Poseidon is a good example when seeking above average remakes.  Passionate fans of the original, who hope to see certain things they enjoyed from The Poseidon Adventure return in this, may be disappointed through scrutiny – but all in all – Wolfgang Petersen has created a remake that renews what was gripping about the original – drowning alive on an upside boat while people try to survive and fail, one by one…  For me, the original had more heart – but you can consider Poseidon a clear lazer color copy of what worked before.

CLICK HERE for a ton of clips and interviews from Poseidon (windows media)
– provided by Yahoo Movies

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