Director Wolfgang Petersen is best known for his claustrophobic 1981 film Das Boot. This year he returns to the theme of waterlogged seafaring vessels, one he revisited in 2000’s The Perfect Storm. This time it’s a remake of Irwin Allen’s campy 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure.
It’s New Year’s Eve and several stock characters, including the former mayor of New York City (Kurt Russell), a sleazy card shark (Kevin Dillon), Russell’s newly-engaged daughter and her fiancee (Emmy Rossum & Mike Vogel), a former Navy officer (Josh Lucas), and Richard Dreyfuss as a suicidal, recently dumped gay man, are aboard the biggest luxury liner ever made. One rogue wave later, the ship is capsized and the cast, lead by Lucas’s character, make a break for the surface.
Poseidon is not high art. It does what it does well, with great special effects and a better-than-average cast for this type of film. We all know what characters will live, which will die, and the in between offers torrents of water, potential drownings, explosions and lots and lots of screaming and crying.
I enjoyed the film but there’s no real reason to see it unspool at your local multiplex, unless you wish to experience it with theater-quality sound. I echo Roger Ebert’s sentiment that the film does feel very corporate; that being said Poseidon is still a pretty good popcorn picture albeit one best experienced on DVD.