Poseidon

 
Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen
Written by:Mark Protosevich
Starring: Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss, Jacinda Barrett, Emmy Rossum, Mike Vogel, Mia Maestro, Andre Braugher, Freddy Rodriguez
Released: June 1, 2006
Grade: B+

It’s New Year’s Eve and the passengers aboard the great ocean liner, the Poseidon, are partying hard.  Jennifer (Rossum) and Christian (Vogel) are a young couple celebrating their recent engagement.  Dylan (Lucas) is an ex-Navy man looking to win big at the poker tables.  Maggie (Barrett) is a single mother searching for the right guy.  Richard (Dreyfuss) is hoping to drown his sorrows in the aftermath of a doomed relationship.  Robert (Russell) is a former mayor of New York City and wants to spend quality time with his daughter.  Valentin (Rodriguez) is a waiter who has smuggled new friend Elena (Maestro) on board.

Thankfully for us all, little time is spent developing these characters.  That sounds like a strange statement coming from me but once you’ve seen the film, you’ll know why.  This is a disaster movie.  The point is to put these characters in perilous, unbelievable situations and then see if they live or die.  Writer Mark Protosevich (The Cell) does just that.

A freakish wave strikes and overturns the enormous boat.  Many people are killed instantly by the crushing water, the instant fires and the flying debris.  A small number survive in the ballroom (which hasn’t flooded) and are advised by Captain Bradford (Braugher) to sit tight and wait to be rescued.  This doesn’t sit well with Dylan who thinks it’s only a matter of time before the boat starts to sink.  He takes the abovementioned characters on a hazardous quest to find a way out.

The wave appears about 15 minutes into the film and what follows is an 84 minute adventure that doesn’t let up.  The water is rising and the dangers are escalating.  Whilst I didn’t have much passion for the characters, the terrifying situations did provide an adrenalin rush.  The lengthy scene in the air-conditioning vent was my favourite.

Deserving the praise is director Wolfgang Petersen (Air Force One, The Perfect Storm) and editor Peter Honess (L.A. Confidential, The Fast & The Furious).  There are hundreds of stunts and thousands of special effects and yet they’ve somehow created a fast-paced film that looks believable.  They even had the guts to show the many dead bodies (which are not shown in other disaster movies out of fear of disturbing the audience).

Poseidon is on a par with the recently released Mission: Impossible 3 in that it provides some great action sequences but little else.  I am surprised that the film has performed so poorly at the box-office in the United States.  Is it too soon after Titanic?