a critiQal film review Poseidon (2006)

Plot: A New Year's Eve aboard the cruise liner Poseidon is about to go horribly wrong as an enormous rogue wave capsizes the massive ship. In the aftermath of the wave, in a world suddenly turned upside down, a few passengers must do what they can to reach the surface. But, with time running out and the ship sinking further with each passing moment, what chance do any of them have to survive?

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  • ...a thrill ride of a film made personable by it's tremendous cast.

After Mission: Impossible III (2006) provided an incredible kick-off to Summer 2006, we couldn’t wait to check out our week 2 pick, Poseidon. The remake of the 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure, Poseidon looked like it should be an exciting event in theaters.

Add in the mix of veteran actors (Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss) and hot new stars (Mia Maestro, Emmy Rossum and Josh Lucas), the combination looked to be something we couldn’t miss. So, would Poseidon be a strong follower to Mission: Impossible III (2006) – or would week 2 bring the first disappointment of the summer?

If Poseidon had failed to bring a strong cast to the table, the movie would be rather dull. After all, if the viewer doesn’t care about what happens to the characters, how tuned in will they be – no matter what array of special effects are plastered across the screen?

Thankfully, the cast was well aware of this, and do their best to keep the viewer involved. For Kurt, this isn’t really a stretch, as he has always had the ability to bring the fantastic down to earth since way back in Big Trouble in Little China (1986). He’s usually a likable guy on-screen, and the audience easily relates to him.

Richard Dreyfuss, on the other hand, is sometimes aloof from the audience, and the viewer never seems to really bond with his characters for the most part. However, Poseidon gives him another chance, and he does a tremendous job of connecting with the audience, despite some horrifying situations.

Josh Lucas, usually typecast as the brash young hero, doesn’t disappoint here, either. He easily fits into the role of a man with a plan, and he provides the goal necessary to motivate his fellow travelers. Mia Maestro (“Alias” (TV)) does a great job personifying the fear the rest are all feeling, but doing their best to hide. Emily Rossum and the rest of the impressive cast also help provide a much needed human element to Poseidon, keeping the story personal for the audience throughout the film – and therefore, so much more exciting.

Since the cast is able to keep the audience tuned in, it gives Poseidon the chance to throw an impressive array of obstacles in front of the characters, making for an edge-of-your-seat action thriller that doesn’t let up for the entire 2 hours of the film.

Poseidon‘s heroes struggle through a ship that is falling apart around them – complete with shaky and shifting surfaces, flooded passageways, sudden fires and explosions – and a constant threat of water following their every move.

With this wide-range of obstacles, Poseidon could take a slow pace, dispersing obstacles occasionally throughout their path. But Director Wolfgang Petersen, no stranger to water films (with Das Boot and The Perfect Storm (2000) under his belt) knows what the viewer wants – and he gives them exactly that.

The obstacles come fast and furious, presenting seemingly insurmountable odds for our heroes. And just when they barely squeak by one obstacle (through displays of incredible bravery and courage, mostly), there is another obstacle waiting just ahead.

The special effects are also tremendously well done. From the sequence when the ship is first hit by the wave (in a scene destined to become a classic cinema moment), the special effects fly fast and furious – and all come through looking remarkably realistic. The first long, slow pan of the ship during the opening credits is probably the worst of the special effects – it makes the ship look more like a toy than anything else. This first shot is placed perfectly, however, as it sets the viewer’s expectations quite low for the effects later on in Poseidon – so when the effects are spectacular, the viewer is blown away all the more.

Unlike some action movies of the past, these heroes are not without faults, again keeping them on the level with the viewer. Instead of keeping their stars on a pedestal, Poseidon lets the viewer know that every single one of it’s cast members is only human – and therefore expendable.

Going into the film, the viewer knows at least one person will make it off the ship – but at no point does Poseidon let them know which one that will be. The film hammers home the point that no one is safe again and again – and will leave the viewer constantly doubting if their favorite will escape this underwater deathtrap alive.

A great cast, incredible effects, and obstacles that never stop coming? Wow – Poseidon has made week 2 of our 2006 summer as entertaining as the first week was.

Poseidon is a thrill ride of a film made personable by it’s tremendous cast – and a must-see on the big screen. Kurt, Josh, Emmy, Mia, Richard and the rest are on the ride of their lives – and they are inviting you.

If you haven’t already seen this (and I don’t know what’s keeping you), go check out Poseidon today. It’s worth every second.

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