The Sunday Review: Poseidon

Sunday 4 June (2006)

poseidon - it's an adventure

The Poseidon Adventure is a classic high-concept movie: big boat, big wave, boat is upside down, handful of people climb up to the 'bottom' of the boat to escape certain death. It's all a bit silly, but when you're a kid that's just about all you could ever ask to see in a movie, and I loved it – so I was looking forward to this remake quite a lot. Generally remakes annoy the hell out of me; they take what is usually a well-loved classic and then butcher it (take Flight of the Phoenix – I mean, the original had Jimmy Stewart and Richard Attenborough for God's sake. What next, Casablanca?) But, in this case, I wasn't bothered – the vast improvements in special-effects technology would make it all worthwhile.

First and foremost, Poseidon is a disaster movie. No-one is coming to watch this film because they want to see the (tragic?) love story between Emmy Rossum and Mike Vogel, or because they want to see some Oscar-winning screenwriting – it's all about the wave hitting the ship, and it looking cool. And for this reason alone, Poseidon is a winner. Yeah, the dialogue is cheesy, the characters are obvious and the story is clichéd, but when the big wave rolls the ship over… it's worth seeing.

So the basic plot here is simple. Josh Lucas puts in a good turn as Dylan, the leader of the bunch. He used to be in the navy so he knows his way around the ship, which is lucky. Kurt Russell plays Robert Ramsey, the rich, used to be important politician but also a fireman, generic hero character, and Emmy Rossum plays his daughter. Her boyfriend is on board too (Vogel) and there's also a single mother and a kid to fill out all the token roles (there's no black guy in the team, but the Captain of the ship is black so they've done one better.) Taking the final token role is the gay character, played by Richard Dreyfuss, who apparantly has been doing movies over the last 13 years since Another Stakeout. It's a strange role because after some very impressive acting where he begs his ex-boyfriend to phone him and then decides to go outside and kill himself (kind of like Rose in Titanic) but, on seeing the killer wave, decides that maybe he's not ready for death yet after all.

The first twenty minutes or so with this rent-a-role cast are a bit rough, but nevermind because soon after that the real action starts, and from then on in it's pretty much constant. The special effects are amazing, and the heightened reality makes for some very entertaining viewing. Ultimately, Poseidon is a bit of fun and nothing more, and you'll probably only ever want to watch it once. That said, if you're only going to watch it once, you might as well pay a couple of quid and watch it on the big screen with the surround sound – it's probably the only way to see this kind of blockbuster.

It's great! Once. I don't find myself wanting to watch it again, but I enjoyed it.

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