May 18, 2006
The disaster classic is remade with an extra helping of cheese in Poseidon, an awful, awfully entertaining film.
The crew of Poseidon, a king-sized ocean liner, gets about five minutes of New Year’s Eve celebration as the film starts and then CRASH! the big wave hits.
You gotta respect a movie that doesn’t mess around and gets right down to the business of killing people.
A good number of people get killed in the first big burst of action. As the boat capsizes, everyone on the deck, everyone with the captain, most of the crew and a bunch of the people in various rooms and banquet halls are killed horribly. Some are impaled, some are conked on the head, some are crisped by flash fires, some are drowned — the movie shows all flavors of killing with glee. “Hey, look at this cool impaled-person effect,” the movie says. “And over there, see how we drowned all of those people? Isn’t that just awesome?” Like a kid showing off artwork, the movie excitedly brags over this initial gallery of death.
After the big tumble, some of the sprawling cast decides to stay and die politely when the ballroom finally floods. But a small band (including Entourage’s Kevin Dillion, Alias’ Mia Maestro, Six Feet Under’s Freddy Rodriguez, Real World: London’s Jacinda Barrett and Richard Dreyfuss, who must be feeling like he made a wrong career move) decide to climb their way to the bottom of the boat (which, remember, is the only thing now above water) and sneak out the propeller tubes (assuming they can find a way to do it without getting cut into shark kibble). Leading this pack are gambler Dillon (Josh Lucas, who has a sweaty-drunk look about him throughout the film) and ex-New York mayor Robert Ramsay (a bloated Kurt Russell). His biggest concern is getting his big-weenie daughter Jennifer (Emmy Rossum) off the boat alive. Her biggest concern is making us all queasy with her constant lovey-dovey-ness with her fiancé Christian (Mike Vogel).
Rounding out the group, just to add extra peril in a few scenes, is the buck-toothed child Conor (Jimmy Bennett), whose buck teeth make his every wail even funnier.
They creep through the ship — encountering fires, live electrical wires, pointy objects, rushing water and a script so clunky it’s a shock they don’t bump their heads on it. Occasionally, one of this little band will succumb to some particularly stupid peril. The remainder feel momentarily sad and then move on, with all the abruptness and lack of finesse of a local news anchor ending a frowny face story about a mine disaster before cueing up the hee-larious waterskiing squirrel footage.
Nothing about the movie (characters, story, script, special effects) lives up to even the modest popcorn movie entertainment level set by Mission: Impossible III. But like a fast food ice cream mix-in sundae-shake, Poseidon is a big goopy mess that manages to offer some enjoyment in part because of how junky and bad-for-you it is. C+
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