Wednesday, May 10, 2006


So who's smart idea was it to involve me in this sinker?

I was still a kid when I watched The Poseidon Adventure on television, which had Gene Hackman as a priest and a group of squabbling folks making it out of a capsized ship through its engine room. It was pretty exciting stuff, given the premise, and the characters that were in it - the usual selfish "villains", and an elderly sacrificing couple are some of those I remembered.

Director Wolfgang Petersen has the credentials to do a remake of the movie, based on a novel by Paul Gallico. Given that he's got his feet wet enough with Das Boot and The Perfect Storm, and enough experience helming big budgeted summer movies like Air Force One and Troy, however, what's the point of a remake?

It's a pretty short ninety nine minutes (inclusive of a nine minute end credits), and it doesn't waste much time with the introduction of our merry characters. In fifteen minutes, the freak tidal wave strikes, and it takes four minutes to capsize the boat - falling stunt people, SFX, and flying props all over the place. You can say I was pretty bored with it to have timed the sequence. Nothing too amazing, and nothing which you haven't seen done with James Cameron's Titanic, or the original Poseidon Adventure for that matter.

Perhaps it's for the action sequences, to see how far time has brought us with an update of stunt techniques and such. However, I felt that certain essential filler scenes made way to keep the running time under check, so some of the action appeared disjointed. It kind of improved towards the end when peripheral characters got out of the way, but there wasn't a scene which distinctly stood out. Petersen managed to keep most of the action well paced, though the emotional scenes just dragged and the characters were so full of cliches.

Seriously, you won't give a hoot about the characters and their respective back-stories, which were mentioned in a sentence or two in passing. Kurt Russell stars as a fireman turned mayor turned retiree who has control issues over her daughter Jennifer (Emmy Rossum, was waiting for someone to throw a corny disaster inspired line like "where will you be, The Day After Tomorrow?"), and who disapproves of her wishy-washy gutless boyfriend Christian (Mike Vogel). In fact, their triangle relationship reeked of another summer movie from the past, from a certain Willis-Tyler-Affleck movie.

But leading the team (and hence getting top billing), is Josh Lucas' selfish gambler Dylan Jones, who decides to try his luck by leaving the supposedly safe havens of the ballroom, reluctantly taking along the bunch of baggage in the form of mother-son team, played by Jacinda Barrett and Jimmy Bennett (the familiar kid from the recent Firewall), a stowaway (Mia Maestro), a cook (Freddy Rodriguez) and one throwaway irritant gambler (Kevin Dillon). Perhaps the worst character is the gay architect, played by Richard Dreyfuss, whose character is gay only because it's hip nowadays to feature gays in films. His character can be a dog for that matter, and it'll probably be more interesting to see the mutt swimming around. Stacy Ferguson (from the Black Eyed Peas) makes a cameo here as a, what else, songstress.

There are plenty of gaping potholes, erm, plot holes that makes you wonder if the budget is catered only for the effects department (there were many involved, including ILM, I counted about 5 or 6 effects companies). Despite the many beautifully mangled corpses and plenty of fire and water to fill the screen, these holes just stand out so starkly. Like how a flimsy outdoor ballroom door can keep the water out, and with the kind of CPR performed, no wonder it's ineffective. Or that deep dive which was quite reckless and stupid. Despite being upside down, the layout of the ship seemed to work just as effective the other way around too, kinda weird. I remembered the original crew having a real hard time navigating around the ship. Not this one though. Perhaps they've become more intelligent.

So, the burning question is, is it worth a watch? Sure, if you haven't seen the original. Otherwise, this is just a jazzed up modernized version, which couldn't hold a candle to the original. The Josh-Kurt pairing couldn't fill the shoes that Hackman left imprinted, and the supporting characters just lacked the oomph. Too much sentimentality packed in a short action movie. It should've focused on one, or the other, or tried to achieve a better balance between the two.

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