By Amy Lamare, May 13, 2006
Don’t let the simple plot and barely drawn characters in this action-adventure fool you. Wolfgang Petersen’s (WGPET) Poseidon rides a wave of thrills and chills to its foregone conclusion. Some people die, some live, all look annoyingly good wet. Where is this waterproof makeup the makeup artists use? I need some. This Poseidon stars my future husband Josh Lucas (JLUCA) as Dylan Johns, a professional gambler with a Navy background. But Lucas’ intense blue eyed gaze and daring dive into flame ridden water is not the only reason to go see this film.
I am perhaps the biggest proponent of plot that I know. Admittedly the plot here is simple: Ship gets hit by a rogue wave and capsizes. Rag tag bunch of vacationers band together somewhat reluctantly to escape. Dialogue is limited. Character exposition is minimal. But it’s enough. This simple approach to a disaster pic works for one very simple and powerful reason: it draws us into the story. I felt like I was a part of this group of survivors trying to fight my way out of the ship. (But you can bet I would have somehow gotten myself into a situation causing an intensely intimate rescue by Josh Lucas).
Kurt Russell (KRUSS) stars as a former fireman and former mayor of New York in a nod to the relief efforts during 9/11. Emmy Rossum (EROSS) plays his daughter Jennifer, who is traveling with her fiancé Chris, Mike Vogel (MVOGE). Jacinda Barrett (JBARR) is the single mom traveling with her young son Conner. Richard Dreyfuss (RDRYF) is the heartbroken gay architect and Alias‘ Mia Maestro, the stowaway. As this rogue wave interrupts the New Year’s Eve festivities, everyone but the stowaway is dressed in finery.
The group proceeds to make a daring escape from the Main Ballroom where Captain Andre Braugher (ABRAU) urges them to stay together and await rescue. The Captain is confident the GPS will dispatch rescue personnel to them in no time. Josh Lucas knows better and Richard Dreyfuss backs him up. “I’m an architect,” he says. “This ship wasn’t built to float upside down.” With that they are off, making their way upwards to the former lower decks so they can escape to the outside through the propeller shaft. They are greeted by fire-both flash and lasting. They encounter dead and bloodied bodies by the thousands. They must make their way upward through an air conditioning vent at one point. Mia Maestro’s convincing performance of a woman suffering from claustrophobia in this scene brings it home and makes it real. It is uncomfortable and stifling and, well, claustrophobic. Kudos go out to the director and actors.
Some die along the way. Sometimes it’s accidental. Sometimes it’s on purpose in order to save the others. The little boy Connor repeatedly wanders off and gets lost, necessitating side rescue missions meant to show off Josh Lucas’s prowess in underwater rescue.
Director Petersen knows his way around cramped underwater sets. He is the man behind such soggy epics as Das Boot and The Perfect Storm. But unlike his counterpart in floating mayhem, James Cameron (JCAME), Peterson knows how to run a tight ship. This flick clocks in at just under 100 minutes and in that time Peterson packs a wollop. He showcases the ship and its disaster in all its glory. The special effects are stunning, almost as stunning as Josh Lucas’ blue eyes.
It is a bit hard to watch the death and carnage when the ship first capsizes. People are thrown from fiery decks to perish in a way very reminiscent of the people who jumped out of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Poseidon is a remake of the 1972 camp classic The Poseidon Adventure. But the capsized ship is about all that the two films share in common. The 1972 version featured characters that were more realized than the characters in this version. These characters are not interested in chatting or lingering. They are about survival, guts and determination. They are characters much more attuned to the current world, one rife with wars and terrorism and a government that spies on private citizens.
Poseidon is a fun summer thrill ride that hits mostly all the right notes. And where it doesn’t, well, there are the very blue eyes of Josh Lucas to tide us over.
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