July 27, 2006 -- “Poseidon” is one of those unnecessary remakes that Hollywood regurgitates about once a month whether anybody is interested in them or not. This particular remake was a costly mistake for Warner Brothers movie studio. The film was an expensive one to make and it made very little money at the box office. It was also a critical failure, being panned by most critics because it is obviously inferior to the original film, “The Poseidon Adventure.” If one regards the film on its own, however, and doesn't compare it to the original film, it isn't bad. The stunts, sets and special effects are good and the acting is competent. What it lacks are characters which are even mildly interesting.
The reason this film should not have been made is that the script is weak. It isn't very compelling and the characters are bland. The film would have been stronger had it stuck to the original script, which at least established strong characters and built some dramatic tension between the main characters. Instead, the script for this film is an almost total rewrite of the original script, maintaining the bare essentials, but eliminating most of the character development and some of the dramatic and romantic plot developments. The essential story is the same, the ship is struck by a rogue wave (which is not detected by the ship's radar for some inexplicable reason) and is tipped upside down. A small group of passengers decides to climb to the bottom of the ship (now the top) in hopes of rescue, against the advice of the ship's crew. As they continue on their perilous journey, heroic deeds are done and self-sacrifice enables some to survive.
Elaborate, upside down sets, surrounded by water tanks, were reportedly created for this film. The special effects, except for one or two scenes when the digital effects are a little too obvious, are very good, particularly the extended sequence where the ship tips over. Like the first film, the action in this film is essentially an obstacle course with the survivors going over, around and under obstacles, including several underwater sequences and several fire hazards. The party is headed by an ex-mayor, Robert Ramsey (Kurt Russell of “Miracle”) and professional gambler Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas of “Glory Road”). The geezer role, originally held by the late Red Buttons, is held by Richard Dreyfuss of “Mr. Holland's Opus”). The role of the kid goes to Jimmy Bennett (“Firewall”). The kid's mother is played by Jacinda Barrett of “Ladder 49”). Emmy Rossum (“The Phantom of the Opera”) plays Ramsey's daughter and Mike Vogel plays her fiancé. Also along on the trip is a crewman, Valentin, played by Freddy Rodriguez. If this was an episode of Star Trek, this particular crewman would have a red uniform, if you know what I mean. It is not all that tough to figure out who is expendable here, it is mainly anyone who isn't a WASP. Also in the party is a stowaway, Elena, played by Nadia Santos. Another member of the party is Lucky Larry, played by Kevin Dillon of “The Doors.”
There are some logical problems with the film, such as the presence of oxygen in the upside down boat, despite the engines continuously running for hours and fires all over the ship. The normal paths for air to get into the ship would be underwater, so the supply of oxygen would be very limited and the ship's engines and numerous large fires would have used the up the trapped oxygen quickly. The other problem has to do with electrical circuits, such as ship's controls, still working when submerged in sea water. Salt water is a conductor of electricity and it should have shorted out many of the ship's electrical circuits. Another problem has a very powerful wind tunnel effect created by the ship's propellers. A ship's propellers are like aircraft propellers, but their pitch and rotation speed are suited for water, not air. At most, the propellers would produce a modest wind (assuming the engines were still running at full speed), not the gale depicted. Aside from these gaffes, the film works well enough, but for the amount of money and talent that went into the film, it should have been a lot better. It rates a C.
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