The summer blockbusters are here and with it inevitably come the epic disaster films. Take a big boat, an even bigger wave, a cast of good looking actors, and literally mix them all together and you get “Poseidon.”
A remake of the 1972 classic “The Poseidon Adventure,” starring Gene Hackman, Poseidon is the story of a group of passengers on a trans-Atlantic cruise ship bound for New York. Starring Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas and Richard Dreyfus, the film is a suspenseful and worthy remake that leaves one wondering, “Can a boat really float upside down?”
When struck by an enormous wave and capsized, the Poseidon cruise ship is left precariously relying on sealed air pockets within the ship’s hull to remain afloat. Not convinced of its stability, Lucas embarks on a journey to the top, err, bottom of the ship in a daring attempt to escape its clutches as wells as the cold ocean seeping in. Russell tags along to find locate his missing daughter and others follow, sensing the impending doom of staying idle while the ship waits for rescue. The small band of passengers blindly weaves their way through the broken bowels of the cruise liner in a race against time and water, to avoid becoming eventual fish food.
The scale of disaster movies always aims to overwhelm and devastate the audience, much like the mammoth wave. Poseidon uses both the incredible imagery of the wave’s humbling size to effectively create that scale and thusly the tremendous damage to both the ship and its cargo. The life and death struggle of those trapped within is also put into perspective by haunting submarine shots of the ships inverted hull and the gradual destruction and deterioration of it. But despite the awesome scenes of chaos on the outside, the real story of Poseidon is the survivors within.
Despite the lack of character development and ample background or justification for their presence on the ship, the portrayal of desperate survivors needs no history. The primary focus of the film is endurance, but without reason or motivation to connect or care about the characters, they come off as a bit hollow. It could have easily been made into a Titanic-sized epic in both length and emotion, yet the most “I’ll never let go” relationship lies between Russell’s daughter and her fiance, who both hold somewhat supporting roles in the picture.
But what salvages the lack of individual background is the development of relationships between characters. Lucas is a card playing hustler whose quick wit and lone ranger personality feeds off of Russell’s by-the-book, no-I-in-team philosophy. The two take the reins together while Dreyfus provides the moral and inspirational support for some of the weaker characters on the ship. The film does also mix in some inopportune humor amidst the rising waters and deep breaths while keeping in perspective the freezing waters and extensive injuries bestowed upon them.
Poseidon is definitely worth the price of admission, as the overwhelming suspense and scale will have you on the edge of your seat throughout. With developed and proven action adventure actors, the intense sequences and daring leaps and bounds create a dazzling visual effect for the audience. A guys version of Titanic, Poseidon is a modest 99 minutes and keeps the deep seated love story and to a minimum while offering up an undeniable tale of survival that is a classic all its own.
“Poseidon” is in theaters now.