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Over 2,000 passengers and crew are celebrating New Year's Eve aboard the luxury cruise ship 'Poseidon' on the open sea. Without warning, at midnight, a rogue wave hundreds of feet high, slams into the ship and rolls it ups... more »
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Cameron T. from SPARTA, MI
Reviewed on 3/18/2011...
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
A disaster flick that treats its audience like an idiot
Alexander M. Walker | Chicago, IL USA | 05/01/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Few films achieve a level of awful that reaches a point where it actually offends. Roland Emmerich and Michael Bay tend to come pretty close, but their films usually round out to just being below average. Usually, Wolfgang Petersen sits comfortable above these two on the quality scale, as his films The Perfect Storm, Air Force One, and Outbreak never sink to a level of craptacular disaster flick or racist robot populated summer blockbusters. Then he made Poseidon. It doesn't have either of those two detractors I just mentioned, but it has an unforgivably bad story, little to no suspense, and a wasted cast. It wants to be an Emmerich-style disaster piece with Michael Bay-sized visuals, but it has no momentum whatsoever. A huge cruiseliner gets overturned by a rogue wave and then the movie, like the ship, just proceeds to sink deeper and deeper into oblivion with the crew (for the metaphor, this would be the audience) powerless to escape.
Any disaster flick will fail if the audience isn't at least slightly invested in the people on the screen. The writer and director are charged with making them as human and relatable as possible so if we don't see ourselves in the characters, we at least see people we know. That caveat makes Poseidon all the more embarrassing, because despite being set in the present, you'll have an easier time relating to the characters in Titanic. Off the bat it should be known that it's really not the cast's fault. Josh Lucas, Emmy Rossum, Kurt Russell, and Richard Dreyfuss have proven they can act, I think that's something most won't bother arguing. So why do they all come across as loathsome morons who just can't die fast enough? Because there's nothing in the film driving it forward once the wave hits. Unfortunately the wave hits within the first ten minutes of the film, it wastes no time getting to the excitement, but it never arrives at that destination. It rolls about in action film purgatory with the cast running, climbing, and scraping about from one section of the capsized ship to the next trying to get to the surface.
Along the way, we see personal relationships unfold in tremendously shallow ways that we just can't help but not care about. Kurt Russell is attempting to deal with his daughter's coming of age as she and her brainless beau work through their relationship-defining-talk. Pretty boy Josh Lucas plays the charismatic young man who leads the survivors towards safety using his intimate knowledge of the ship's throughways. Dreyfuss plays the token old guy, and finally, a mother (Jacinda Barrett) and her whiny child tag along, because hey, they don't want to die. There is character development, but it's useless and does absolutely nothing to help the audience care. At all. We watch the lemmings parade about the ship with the no-name actors (the Star Trek red-shirt equivalents) getting picked off one by one in uninspired death scenes. Characters blurt out expositional passages to explain why they can't go a certain way; which wouldn't be so bad if it didn't also come from characters who should know nothing about the situation.
What the film lacks in any real substance or value, it makes up for (only barely) with an interesting set concept (which is covered in detail in an extra feature). Setting the film on an overturned cruiseliner means the luxurious set is turned on its head making the panicked voyage to the surface at least somewhat interesting. However, even the visuals of the film pale in comparison to the villain which rears its ugly roguish head in the opening ten minutes and then leaves the film to wither and die. That the Poseidon is capsized by a rogue wave is the most interesting thing the film has going for it, which says a lot considering it's a CGI-fest on Blu-ray. You'd expect to be blown away by the audio and visuals, but the writing is just so appalling that everything good is overshadowed.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The extras on the film's production easily trump the film in terms of generating viewer interest in what's on the screen. Showing the soundstage and the sets as they shot the film is actually quite neat. They even saw fit to include the History Channel's piece on rogue waves. Then, though, there's the utterly useless film intern video diary. It's really hard to care about that last piece for the 12 minutes it insists on carrying on for. In the long run, hearing the actors and directors talk about this film like it's anything other than a trainwreck actually provides a nice level of comedy."