**1/2 (out of 5)
May 12, 2006
Josh Lucas as DYLAN JOHNS
Kurt Russell as ROBERT RAMSEY
Jacinda Barrett as MAGGIE JAMES
Richard Dreyfuss as RICHARD NELSON
Jimmy Bennett as CONOR JAMES
Emmy Rossum as JENNIFER RAMSEY
Mike Vogel as CHRISTIAN
Mia Maestro as ELENA GONZALEZ
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
In a strange way, “Poseidon” reminded me of “Brokeback Mountain.” I know that’s not the first comparison you’ll hear about this film, but stay with me on this for a moment.
When I first saw “Brokeback Mountain,” I said that it was a movie that could not be described any way except as the “gay cowboy movie.” Some films – take “American Beauty” for example – can be described in many different ways: a teenage coming-of-age film, a movie about a man going through a mid-life crisis, a dark romance, an emotional drama about a family disintegrating. But “Brokeback Mountain”? Nothing but gay cowboys there.
Similarly, “Poseidon” can only be described as a movie about a cruise ship capsizing on the ocean. The easy comparison to “Poseidon” is “Titanic,” but there was so much more to “Titanic.” That was a film that could be described in many ways: a love story, an epic drama on the high seas, an adventure film, a disaster film.
“Poseidon” is all about the disaster, and that in itself is a disaster.
I generally like Wolfgang Petersen’s work. Yes, even “The Neverending Story” has some fond memories. However, “Poseidon” left me with the same level of indifference as Petersen’s last great epic, “Troy.”
The movie seemed unexpectedly rushed. It was as if the filmmakers just couldn’t wait to get to the disaster. And that makes sense, considering how weak the characters were. They are introduced on a fleeting sweep of the boat, then the next thing you know, it’s midnight on New Year’s Eve and that rogue wave flips the ship over.
I liked the cast – I really did. Even though I’m not a huge fan of Josh Lucas, I really enjoy Kurt Russell, Andre Braugher and Richard Dreyfuss (although I kept expecting him to see a shark in the ship and yell, “This was no boat accident!”). However, these great actors aren’t given much to work with.
I’ve never been a fan of the original. Highest grossing film of 1972 or not, “The Poseidon Adventure” seemed like a long, drawn out TV movie. After the ship flips, it’s just a lot of people yelling at each other and dying.
But at least “The Poseidon Adventure” had some characterization to it. This new film just falls back on the standard human spirit struggle. I felt no remorse when characters died (although some of them, like Kevin Dillon, did go out with a bang). In this respect, I blame the writers and not necessarily Petersen.
Yes, the special effects are cool. Director Wolfgang Petersen’s decision to use practical effects over CGI whenever possible makes for a stunning film visually. The rest of the film is surprisingly empty.
I understand that, especially with a movie like this, you have to suspend disbelief for a bit. But there are moments that fit together so well (or so poorly) that they are laughable. For example, in the beginning, the first mate wanders through the bridge in the beginning, saying, “Something doesn’t feel right.” It was such a corny way to introduce the behemoth rogue wave that it was laughable. Another example includes a ridiculously convenient life raft waiting outside the ship when survivors escape.
Still, it wasn’t a total loss. At least we didn’t have to watch soggy Shelly Winters on screen for 90 minutes.