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Awesome: 3.81%
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10 reviews, 45 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"Is it me, or is it wet in here?"
4 stars

Although they were hugely popular at the time, any contemporary attempt to actually sit down and watch one of those jumbo-sized disaster films from the 1970's–the kind that gave Charlton Heston a second career and made Irwin Allen a very wealthy man–usually result in massive disappointment and not an inconsiderable amount of utter boredom. Sure, it is still fun to watch the scenes of destruction for their special effects wizardry (or lack of it) but the fatal flaw of nearly all of those films is that the creators inexplicably decided to jam them with any number of extraneous subplots that would fill up the space between the set-pieces, most likely as an excuse to lure all-star casts into what were otherwise second-unit affairs and to add enough to the running time to make them seem even more epic in scope. (This is a tradition that continues today–such modern-day examples as “Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Pearl Harbor” all feature subplots that could have easily been removed without anyone noticing their absence.) Even if such scenes had been well-written (which they weren’t), they still would have felt extraneous–I seriously doubt that anyone went to see films entitled “Earthquake” or “The Towering Inferno” in order to see stuff about the failed marriage of Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner or Fred Astaire as a charming con man. The experience of watching one of them on DVD today is actually a lot like watching porn–you basically watch the Good Parts and fast-forward through the rest.

Apparently, the people behind “Poseidon,” the big-budget remake of the 1972 hit “The Poseidon Adventure,” feel the same way as I do and they have resisted the temptation to bloat this film out in a similar manner. Instead of stretching things out to an unbearable degree, they have given us a lean, mean approach to the material that manages to economically set up its premise and introduce its characters in about 15 minutes before sending in the killer wave to literally turn their lives upside-down. Even better, the story goes forward in such a clean and efficient manner that the end credits begun running at around the 90-minute mark without ever creating the feeling that things are being rushed or that tons of footage has been left on the cutting-room floor. The result is a film that may be yet another essentially pointless remake, but it is at least a pointless remake that gets the job done in a pretty good manner.

Though the premise is the same--luxury cruiser flips overboard on New Year’s Eve, killing everyone not billed in the opening credits, and the survivors must make a hazardous journey to the bottom–now top–of the boat in a struggle in which their chances of survival appear to be in inverse proportion to their cast billing–the characters are different this time around. Here, we have Josh Lucas as the Jaded Gambler Who Learns to Care About Others, Kurt Russell as the Solid Authority Figure (his character being both a former firefighter and the ex-mayor of New York), Emmy Rossum (who appears to be the new queen of disaster movies, thanks to her appearances in this, “The Day After Tomorrow” and “The Phantom of the Opera”) as Russell’s hottie daughter, who is driving Daddy to distraction by fooling around with her hunky boyfriend (Mike Vogel) and Richard Dreyfuss as the Suicidal Man Who Learns to Live Again In the Face of Calamity. On the B squad, there is Jacinda Barrett as the hot MILF divorcee who catches Lucas’s eye, Jimmy Bennett as her Annoying Son Who Always Gets into Dangerous Trouble, Mia Maestro as the Hot Stowaway, Andre Braugher as the Stern Captain Who Wants Everyone to Stay in the Ballroom, Kevin Dillon as the Obnoxious Jerk Whom Everyone Wants to See Die Slowly and Painfully and Fergie (from the Black-Eyed Peas) as . . . well, as Fergie–she shows up to do a couple of songs and then get to discover whether her humps can be used as flotation devices.

As these characters go through their familiar paces, director Wolfgang Petersen and screenwriter Mark Protosevich keep things moving along in a fairly realistic manner. Let me rephrase that–although the entire film is essentially preposterous (if you doubt this, try holding your breath for as long as the characters are able to during their extended underwater scenes without blacking out), it doesn’t try to push its luck by making things too over-the-top ridiculous (although I could have lived without the bit in which the gang is saved by Maestro’s crucifix) or giving the characters seemingly superhuman powers. Admittedly, this low-key approach means that the film lacks any real money shot along the lines of the man plunging through the stained-glass ceiling in the original but I appreciated the fact that it didn’t try to hit me over the head with one jaw-dropping spectacle after another.

Physically, “Poseidon” is also pretty impressive–having had experience shooting both on water (“The Perfect Storm”) and in claustrophobic conditions (“Das Boot”), Petersen was probably the perfect man for the job of taking on this film. Through his work, the odyssey undertaking by his survivors is a painful one that they live through more through luck than anything else. And while the screenplay is nothing to write home about, it manages to keep the howlingly bad dialogue to a minimum (with the worst offender probably being the post-flip query “How bad is it?”) and even comes up with a final reel death scene that is surprisingly poetic given the circumstances.

The one exception to this approach comes with the Kevin Dillon character, an overbearing lounge lizard (who calls himself Lucky Larry, no less) whose manner is as brash, gauche and obnoxious as his mustache (and believe me, it is a brash, gauche and obnoxious mustache indeed). On the one hand, the character, not to mention Dillon’s overblown performance, is so grating and obnoxious, especially in comparison to the others (even a scenery-chewer like Dreyfuss is reasonably restrained here), that it feels like a big mistake. On the other hand, it is so blatantly overdone that it could be argued that it was intended that way as a satiric jab at the broad characterizations of earlier disaster films and that what happens to that character is meant to signal that this isn’t going to be just another example of a tired genre. Although I tend to lean towards the former school of thought (mostly because if you are going to attempt a sly spoof at generic conventions, you should probably employ a sharper weapon than Kevin Dillon), I am willing to admit that one could successfully argue the latter.

Look, when I sat down in the screening room to watch “Poseidon,” I wasn’t expecting much more for my trouble than a few neat special effects, the sight of some fabulous-looking babes in wet, clinging outfits and a hopefully decent performance from the perennially underrated Kurt Russell (one of those rare actors who can come across as natural and down-to-earth in even the most ridiculous of situations). I got all those and was surprised to discover that by stripping away the unnecessary subplots and distractions, I wound up getting a little more in the end than I had bargained for. (If nothing else, the film serves as the best example of addition by subtraction since Don Henley’s solo career.) It may not be the ground-breaking, revolutionary summer blockbuster that we have been waiting too long for but until that film finally comes along, this one does a pretty good job of holding the fort.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14526&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/12/06 00:33:01
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User Comments

3/19/20 Charles Tatum Sloppy and bored 2 stars
9/14/17 morris campbell exciting with good effects 4 stars
7/28/11 Bob Dog A great b-movie - best disaster movie I've seen in years! 5 stars
5/17/11 Ravenmad I wouldn't want to die like this, but almost did watching this film. 2 stars
11/22/09 Jeff Wilder Story's predictable, no real suspense and we don't care about the characters. 2 stars
11/02/09 Darryl Great sp. effects, stars & fast-paced! Dreyfuss miscast, Cary Elwes wouldve been perfect. 4 stars
8/13/09 Dan better than you've heard, if still imperfect 3 stars
3/25/09 Eric Much better than I thought it'd be - avoid comparing to original and judge on its own merit 4 stars
2/11/09 Stewart Worst movie I have ever seen! No story or characters, just special effects and bad acting. 1 stars
1/15/09 Shaun Wallner Very Interesting 4 stars
1/14/08 JM Synth Generic with paper thin characters, but great action and suspense 4 stars
1/12/08 Brian Mckay Better than Titanic - at least you don't have to sit through bullshit love story first. 4 stars
10/01/07 Rick Excellent action, but weak character development. Still, awesome f/x make it worth seeing. 4 stars
7/14/07 Vincent Ebriega Great effects, set design and action, but, like the Poseidon, sinks too quickly. 3/5. 3 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK To sum it up, Battlefield Earth was better. 1 stars
2/27/07 Stanley Thai This film doesn't need character developement and has very good action scenes. 4 stars
2/03/07 Vip Ebriega This remake is great to watch. 4 stars
1/23/07 Matt Lame,rushed,tooshort-and this time we don't give a shit who lives or dies. 2 stars
10/16/06 Mystique This movie really sucks; it's terribly cliché. You're better off renting "Titanic". 1 stars
10/12/06 Indrid Cold Suitably white-knuckle update of the original. 3 stars
10/07/06 Rhonda Heaslip In my opinion it was an awesome movie that kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved it! 5 stars
9/26/06 Anthony Feor I wish i had saw the origional before this, however it comes quite close to it 4 stars
9/02/06 Dragon The Artist A pretty good, ownable rehash of The Posiedon Adventure 4 stars
9/01/06 Danny Even without compairing it to 1972 classic, still merely average and pretty forgettable. 3 stars
8/28/06 David Hasslehof Not enough substance - could have been Titanic set in the modern era - Godzilla anyone? 3 stars
8/23/06 action movie fan sometimes exciting but you.ve seen it all before--ship is the only thing new 3 stars
8/06/06 Erik Van Sant It feels longer than 'Titanic', and is a collosal piece of ass. Hated every frame. 1 stars
7/24/06 malcolm thrilling but ultimately forgettable 3 stars
6/04/06 Jon With excellent suspense and action Poseidon makes the already good old one perfect! 5 stars
6/02/06 MickOZ Are you over 14? If so you have seen this type of shite countless times. 2 stars
6/02/06 MP Bartley Fun for the moment but entirely forgettable. Wavers between average and worth a look. 3 stars
5/28/06 inty speed 2 was better 1 stars
5/23/06 Navi this movie just plain sucks. Maybe add a few details about characters, and make an ending. 2 stars
5/21/06 Jeff Anderson Waterlogged to say the least & cruel. Cast & effects are far better than film deserves! 2 stars
5/19/06 Staci Typical blockbuster filled with thrills and chills galore. 4 stars
5/18/06 Mase Quick and painless, if you are looking for great visuals and no depth...enjoy 3 stars
5/17/06 michael not too bad and close to the first movie...now if they would just think up some new ideas 4 stars
5/17/06 Gavin Bamber If you've seen Titanic, you've seen it already 3 stars
5/17/06 JOHN PETERSON When I saw this about 29 years ago, it was mediocre at best. This tiime special effects is 3 stars
5/16/06 Astro Boye THis movie Sucked- Homopphobia and racial bias sink this ship! 1 stars
5/15/06 pipe 10 minutes of decent special effects and 1-1/2 hours of mind-numbing plot and dialog. Glug 1 stars
5/13/06 Ron Green The special effects were great! It makes the original poseidon look like a sailboat! 4 stars
5/12/06 Captain Highcrime Moved so fast...Wolfgang must have been double-parked outside the post house. 4 stars
5/12/06 Mike C. Finally a movie that lived up to its preview. It kicked ass! Very intense! 5 stars
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  12-May-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 22-Aug-2006



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