Remake of Classic Disaster Flick Puts Motley Ensemble
in Survival Mode
The Poseidon Adventure (1972) was one of the earliest examples of a type
of movie which emerged in the Seventies known as the disaster flick. Along
with Airport (1970), The Towering Inferno (1974), Earthquake (1974), Rattlers
(1976), Piranha (1978) The Swarm (1978), The Bees (1978), and When Time
Ran Out (1980), these high attrition-rate adventures were generally marked
by star-studded casts, second-rate special effects and corny dialogue.
This campy genre’s popularity plummeted soon after the Zucker Brothers
started to parody it (Airplane) and Steven Spielberg figured out how to
capture the same sort of peril (Jaws) in a realistic fashion.
Given the technological advances in visual effects and computer-generated
imagery over the past 30 years, it should come as no surprise that this
remake would be a substantial improvement over the original, especially
when you factor in director Wolfgang Petersen, a veteran best-known for
a couple of intense aquatic spectacles, Das Boot and The Perfect Storm.
His approach was to overhaul the script by drastically reducing the sappy
chit-chat in order to transform the picture into a non-stop, nerve-wracking
misadventure that feels like you’re playing a video game. He’s
also changed the names and backgrounds of all the characters, though they’re
still little based on readily recognizable caricatures.
There’s the former Navy diver (Josh Lucas), the suicidal, just-dumped,
gay architect (Richard Dreyfuss), the clueless ship captain (Andre Braugher),
the frantic single mom (Jacinda Barrett), her resourceful, nine year-old
son (Jimmy Bennett), a disgraced ex-NYC mayor (Kurt Russell), his recently-engaged
daughter (Emmy Rossum), her world-class swimmer fiancé (Mike Vogel),
a pompous jerk (Kevin Dillon), the saloon singer (Stacy Ferguson), the
Latino stowaway (Mia Maestro), and her bus-boy boyfriend (Freddie Rodriguez).
Like the Titanic with all the emotional content excised, this movie achieves
in about an hour and a half what it took that blockbuster over three hours
to around to. The story unfolds in the North Atlantic on New Yea’s
Eve aboard The Poseidon, a cruise liner headed for New York City. Right
at the stroke of midnight, the first mate signals the alarm when he notices
the “Perfect” tidal wave head straight for “Das Boot.”
The revelers only have time enough to brace themselves for the impact,
which is strong enough to flip the ship upside-down. Wolfgang gets very
creative at this juncture, displaying passengers and crew dying in every
way imaginable, by concussion, by crushing, by falling, by explosion,
by drowning, by electrocution, by immolation, etcetera. Hundreds who survive
this initial host of horrors follow the captain’s orders and huddle,
wringing their hands inside the supposedly waterproof ballroom.
Only Dylan (Lucas) has the sense and spunk to disagree, so he rounds-up
those who’d rather at least try to save themselves than simply sit
and await a likely watery fate. Poseidon then kicks into high gear from
here on in, never allowing the audience a moment to catch its breath till
our entombed ensemble burst through the hull of the flipped ship and reach
the ocean’s surface.
State-of-the-art f/x, but as cheesy a script as the first one.
Good (2 stars)