“Poseidon’s” action keeps things afloat
Yes, we are all sick of the constant stream of pointless remakes that Hollywood cranks out ad nauseam. Yes, we know there are too few original screenplays, and the industry is fixated on target marketing and not artistic merit. But some remakes make sense. No, not “The Pink Panther,” “Herbie the Love Bug,” or “The Longest Yard.” Despite their age, the originals of those films haven’t lost any of their luster and didn’t need revisitingdespite the decent box office tallies of their pitiful remakes.
The original “Poseidon Adventure” ushered in an era of epic disaster flicks back in 1972, but its biggest cachet was a cast that included five Oscar winners. In its day the original seemed larger than life, an experience that was greatly enhanced for this future film reviewer by witnessing the Hollywood premiere as a wide-eyed, teen-aged film fanatic.
But remaking it to take advantage of current technology seems logical, especially when put in the hands of a director who knows his way around a sinking ship. Wolfgang Petersen was responsible for the nail biting claustrophobia of the German thriller in “Das Boot,” as well as the blue collar seafaring drama “The Perfect Storm.”
After a perfunctory introduction of the main characters, the 150-foot rogue wave hits, the cruise ship flips, and “Poseidon” gets down to business. Thankfully, the film rarely strays from its main objective: Create believable mayhem, give a few heady survivalists a fighting chance, let the special effects thrust us into the danger, and don’t let things like backstory, political correctness, or momentum-stalling anecdotes get in the way.
Does dialogue like “Are you OK?” and “You can do this!” seem trite and clich?? Sure. But next time you’re in the middle of a disaster try NOT saying something sappy. We’ll also apply the “Spider-Man” theory to those detractors who say the 150 foot wall of water looks “fake.” To those who launched the same complaint about the CGI technology that made the web-slinging crusader swing we say, “How do you know it looks fake?” (Survivors of an ocean wave the height of Niagara Falls feel free to e-mail me.)
While not the cavalcade of stars the original was, this year’s “Poseidon” has some stalwart veterans (Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss), and some newer faces from TV’s ranks (Andre Braugher, Mia Maestro, Kevin Dillon, and Freddy Rodriguez). Of course, there’s also the requisite kid and his mommy played by Jimmy Bennett and Jacinda Barrett. “Poseidon” marks the coming out of Josh Lucas as a likeably casual action hero that could fill the void left by the aging Bruce Willis.
One final note: Betwixt the abundant flotsam and jetsam, “Poseidon” reveals its share of dead bodies– as you would expect from this type of accidentand that’s why they call them disaster movies. I discourage cynical filmgoers who find this kind of carnage funny to stay home so as not to ruin it for others. Watch it at home, that’s what the DVD is for.
Rated PG-13 for violence, brief gore, and profanity.