Poseidon (2006)
4/10
Can you wait for a remake of "The Swarm" or "When Time Ran Out..."? Yes, so can I.
17 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Boats don't seem to be lucky for Freddy Rodriguez on screen; his character met his maker on a cruise ship in the last episode of "Six Feet Under," and in "Poseidon" he's the first of the band of heroes to be killed off. In one of the few moments that indicate how much of a better movie this could have been, it's not so much his death as the circumstances of it that are striking (it tops similar moments in "Vertical Limit" and another (but far superior) disaster movie with Emmy Rossum, "The Day After Tomorrow," because it's not a heroic self-sacrifice like the latter or a convenient way to kill the villain, save the good guys and atone for personal guilt at the same time like the former - Richard Dreyfuss basically, and to be fair unwillingly, has to kill him so that the others have a chance)... but then nothing much is made of it. Or much of any of the characters.

Wolfgang Petersen certainly knows his water what with "Das Boot," the climax of "Air Force One" and the logo for his company (Radiant Productions - sun shining over a tranquil sea), and this isn't as bad as I was afraid it was going to be (it's certainly more watchable than "Lost in Space," which ain't that hard anyway), but even without comparing it to the original movie it almost never catches fire; with most of our heroes mono-dimensional no-narks (it figures that the liveliest one, Kevin Dillon, should be among the ones to bite it) it's pretty hard to care whether or not they make it out - yours truly kept getting Josh Lucas and that guy who plays Miss Rossum's boyfriend confused, which isn't a plus. Dreyfuss and Mia Maestro do manage to make some kind of positive impression, and it's amusing to see Kurt Russell start to turn into Nick Nolte, but most of the others are either wasted (Andre Braugher in particular) or nondescript.

The hand of Akiva Goldsman had to have been brought onto that dialogue (Russell: "Everyone can see..." Rossum, playing his daughter: "The twins?"), the reduced running time is more the work of savage editors than the script (although Mike Vogel's aching legs after being pulled out from under the wreckage in the disco never seem to hinder him again...), the standard army of FX studios (ILM, The Moving Picture Company, Giant Killer Robots and so on) turn in work ranging from excellent (like the capsizing) to dire (like the shamelessly fake oil that ushers in a pillar of fire), and unfortunately this was one time that Petersen left the music intact; Klaus Badelt proves that he's no John Williams (like we didn't know already), and the less said about Her Butterfaceness Queen Stacy of Ferguson and that awful sub-Celine Dion dirge over the end credits the better. This all seems a bit like a video game rather than a movie, with people facing challenges to get to the next stage. And about as emotionally stirring.

But as I said earlier, there are some strong moments - the air vent sequence is genuinely tense (and it's refreshing to see an air vent in a movie which isn't big enough to fit an SUV in for once), the opening journey around the boat is pretty decent, and a couple of the fates met by key characters are truly affecting. Overall, though, the best thing you can say about the movie is that it's better than "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" - although if you must watch a big-budget box office bomb with Josh Lucas, you might be better off with "Stealth." I never thought I'd say that.
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