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:: Poseidon

Wolfgang Petersen, the director behind The Perfect Storm and the brilliant Das Boot, is thoroughly in his element with his latest film, Poseidon. Watery graves abound in this remake of 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure, yet the question remains as to why it needed remaking at all. The original was a good solid film based on a simple concept and Poseidon does little to build on this.

New Year’s Eve celebrations are in full swing on a luxury cruise ship called Poseidon. The ship’s band led by Black Eyed Peas singer Stacy Ferguson, is counting down to midnight when a rogue wave of catastrophic proportions hits the vessel, rolling it completely. Survivors are trapped in the air bubble of the upturned ballroom but professional gambler Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas) prefers to chance an escape.

Robert Ramsay (Kurt Russell) joins him in the hope of finding his daughter (Emmy Rossum) and her boyfriend (Mike Vogel) elsewhere in the ship, followed by a mother and her son (Jacinta Barrett and Jimmy Bennett), a suicidal architect (Richard Dreyfuss), a young female stowaway (Mia Maestro), a drunken gambler (Kevin Dillon) and a kitchen hand (Freddy Rodriguez). From here the film plays out like a computer game in which characters must navigate through a maze of hazards, flash fires and rising water, to escape the doomed ship through the propeller shafts on its underside. One wrong turn or mistimed leap across a chasm and it’s game over.

The characters never develop beyond the minimal requirements of the script and after the closing credits the audience may well struggle to recall the names of even main characters. Mysteriously blue-eyed Caucasians have a much better survival rate than their Hispanic companions and the subtle Hollywood prejudices don‘t end there. The three women inexplicably dissolve into hysterics at inopportune moments and rely heavily on muscular males for assistance at every turn.

This film seems to exist solely for its action and special effects. These admittedly look great. Waterfalls of fire created with fuel and water, gruesome deaths for unwary extras and sets that turn upside down, make Poseidon an exciting roller coaster ride of a film. These effects are the only justification for this remake, since the story is formulaic to the point of laughter. For example, the daddy, daughter and unpopular fiancée trio led by Kurt Russell is an exact mirror of Bruce Willis’ character in Armageddon. We must also wonder how so many victims go on screaming long after they’re completely submerged in water. If you can suspend disbelief however, there is much to enjoy this classic popcorn flick.