It’s New Year’s Eve on the mega-ship Poseidon. The 2,000 or so passengers are the luckiest people on earth. Livin’ large in the largest, safest, and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, Poseidon’s inhabitants are more than ready to usher in the New Year in style. The party moves to the ballroom, where the giddy (and rather tipsy) passengers prepare to party all night long.
Meanwhile, in the control room, things are not at all “swell.” The captain knows something is wrong but cannot put a finger on the problem. It soon presents itself in hideous fashion, when a giant “flash” tidal wave is seen barreling towards Poseidon with unprecedented force.
Before anyone can react, the menace engulfs the ship, sending it lurching facedown into the deep.
Those very few lucky enough to survive the ship flipping completely over, soon find themselves trapped but alive in the supposedly airtight ballroom. A ship official assures everyone, “We are at most several hours from rescue,” adding that the ballroom is a perfectly safe place to remain until help arrives.
Professional gambler Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas) knows ships. He also knows that the water will find its way into the ballroom, whether it is supposed to be “air-tight” or not. He sees only one option: go up to the bottom of the ship and search for another way out. Much to his dismay, he is soon joined by a small company of equally skeptical passengers, including the former mayor of New York, Robert (Kurt Russell), who’s desperate to reach another part of the ship and retrieve his daughter (Emmy Rossum), architect Robert (Richard Dreyfuss), single mom Maggie (Jacinda Barrett) and her young son, stow-away Elena (Mia Maestro), and crew-member Valentin (Freddy Rodriguez), who agrees to guide them through the ship to an exit.
The task proves to be more difficult than anyone anticipated. The ship is soon discovered to be sinking at an alarming rate. The water continues to rise faster than the group can climb, and numerous underwater obstacles lay in the group’s way. It is soon obvious that these lucky few will be the only ones to survive the night, that is, if they withstand the ocean’s fury.
Poseidon attempts to remake the 1972 thriller, which cemented “disaster” as a movie genre. The cinematography for the time period was brilliant, and despite being horrifically acted, it garnered a set of Academy Award noms, mostly for its amazing special effects.
This movie is very similar. Its monster budget is evident, and the cinematography is brilliant. And the acting is once again mediocre at best. But unlike the, original, I can guarantee this one will not be receiving any Oscar attention.
Since Titanic brought in more money than any in history, the movie business has been busy producing more and more big-budget disaster flicks. Poseidon is another play on American’s strange obsession with watching people fight for their lives.
The filmmakers don’t seem to care about developing any plot whatsoever. The wave hits the ship less than five minutes into the movie, and it’s a breathless ride from there. The theme is human survival, and any further character development is lost in the waves.
Poseidon is, however, an entertaining thriller. It is one of the tensest movies I have ever seen and will keep audiences enticed until the very end. The desperation of the characters is evident, and the claustrophobic feeling of the dark ship adds to the already dire mood.
Although the remake steals its name and main plot point from the original, it changes many details to set it apart from the 1972 version. After the group heads off on its own, the movie is almost completely different. Because of this, the audience never knows what is going to happen. It is wonderfully unpredictable, up until the final scene. Each time the viewer thinks he can have a moment to breathe, something more horrific happens that threatens everything.
Nonetheless, when all is said and done, Poseidon is just an attempt to open up the summer blockbuster season with a big hit. The characters are almost completely ignored except to dangle death in front of their faces, all to please a catastrophe-obsessed audience.
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