Poseidon Wolfgang Petersen

Poseidon Wolfgang Petersen
Poseidon has a few negative forces working against it. First off, it’s a remake of The Poseidon Adventure, the Oscar-winning 1972 classic featuring the all-star cast of Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Roddy McDowell and Red Buttons. Secondly, it comes in the wake of two popular ocean-based disaster flicks: The Perfect Storm (also directed by Petersen) and the most successful motion picture ever, Titanic. As you can see, blockbuster giant Petersen has a lot to live up to, but luckily he secured a well-rounded cast of familiar faces (Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss and disaster king Kurt Russell) to keep this film afloat.

Retaining the same premise as the original, Poseidon follows a monstrous luxury liner cruising out in the open sea on New Year’s Eve. A massive tidal wave just happens to hit, capsizing the ship and killing the majority of its passengers. A group of ten survivors wisely disobey the captain’s command to stay put and seek a way to escape from the bottom of the ship, facing danger after danger over the course of the movie.

Petersen doesn’t waste any time before crashing the massive waves into Poseidon, barely establishing any characters whatsoever and leaving us to rely on the dire situations to reveal anything about them. The casting does little to boost the film, offering reliable actors typical action parts — Lucas succeeds as the suave co-leading alpha male, alongside Russell, who plays the same role he’s portrayed a million times before. Dreyfuss, who seems almost alien these days, is the odd man out. Trying his hand at the token gay character, he fails to ignite much of a flame (other than his blingy diamond earring) in what would normally be a standout role.

Thankfully, Petersen isn’t relying on the cast to carry the film and doesn’t resort to anchoring the plot with a tacky, "star-crossed” love story, though he subtly squeezes one in for the sake of two minor characters. Poseidon is careful to balance the necessary re-jigged original moments with the technological and social advancements of today. Of course, the film looks amazing, especially in comparison to the modest effects Irwin Allen’s production used 34 years ago. The details in the disastrous sequences are stunning to behold and as gruesome and spectacular as they would be in reality. The overall action is also bolstered, but without the charm of the characters Borgnine, Buttons or Winters played the intensity just isn’t there.

Poseidon will have neither the legacy of Titanic nor the box office receipts, but it’s a fun and explosive 99 minutes, as well as a great opportunity to see the annoying Black Eyed Peas front-woman Fergie meet her maker — a cinematic moment that alone should be enough to make it number one this weekend. (Warner)