Went to see Poseidon last night with Eric. The film is a new adaptation based on the novel by Paul Gallico, whose book The Poseidon Adventure was made into an awesome movie back in the 1970s. This new one is based on the same ideas, but in the end cuts down on the character development as much as possible, resulting in a lean, fast-paced thriller that has some nice technical set-pieces, but feels about as hollow as can be.
The premise is simple: a rogue wave capsizes the cruise liner “Poseidon”, rendering it upside down, on New Years Eve. A group of survivors now need to work their way up to the bottom of the boat to escape. But the water is rising, the boat is sinking, and time is running out. Our cast of characters includes an ex-New York Mayor (Kurt Russell), a card hustler (Josh Lucas), a heartbroken gay man (Richard Dreyfuss), the Mayor’s daugher and her fiancee (Emmy Rossum and Mike Vogel), and a mom and her son (Jimmy Bennett). There are other characters as well, but they’re not as noteworthy because, well, they all die. In fact, by the time the movie is over, all of the ethnic minorities have died. Hmmmmmm……
The capsizing sequence was well done, and Industrial Light & Magic did a very nice job. The opening shot of the film is a nice middle-finger to the work Digital Domain did on Titanic almost 10-years ago, and for the most part the effects work is quite good. Probably the most fun was had by KNB Effects, who provided all the dead bodies on-set. There are some nice gruesome shots that push the PG-13 rating, especially during the capsizing sequence.
Because the film had been cut down to 98-minutes (from a reportedly nearly 3-hours running time), most of what ended up on the cutting room floor was the character development. The result is that we have a group of actors that we have to follow who we care very little about. We’re not invested in them enough to care, and as the ship slowly picks them off one-by-one, I found myself laughing more than feeling sorry for them. And I’m sorry, but the casting of Jimmy Bennett as the kid is quickly making me dislike him as much as Dakota Fanning. Are there no other child actors in Hollywood? Seriously.
Musically, Klaus Badelt’s score had a nice theme that we barely heard through the mix, and much of the score was relegated to fighting against the sound effects. It worked, for what it was supposed to do, but that’s about all I can really say about it.
In the end, Poseidon is a film that is easy to shrug off. Mindless entertainment, lacking any real substance and certainly none of the interesting characters that populated the 1972 disaster classic. I’d say, wait for DVD if you’re interested in seeing the action sequences.