2006-09-01 18:50


It is New Year's Eve aboard the luxury cruise ship Poseidon, and the passengers are celebrating far below deck in her ballrooms and bars. Then the unthinkable happens - out of nowhere the ship is struck side-on by a 50-metre high rogue wave, capsizing the enormous vessel. Most of the shell-shocked survivors huddle on what was the ceiling of the main ballroom, hoping vainly to be rescued, but a small band of more daring passengers decide to find a way out. Led by a wolfish professional gambler (Josh Lucas) and a once heroic ex-fireman (Kurt Russell), the small band must fight their way through sharp debris and raging fires to escape the rising water.


Poseidon may be visually impressive and intermittently thrilling, but it is ultimately an empty headed (and hearted) piece of disposable cinema. Despite its hard working cast and expensive good looks, this flimsy sugar rush of a movie slides out of your head the moment you leave the theatre.

We could blame veteran director Wolfgang Peterson for its failings. Always more concerned with looks than guts, Peterson's last few films (Troy, The Perfect Storm) have veered increasingly towards empty grandeur.

Or we could blame the screenwriter Mark Protosevich, who thought it prudent to jettison all of the original characters in Paul Gallico's novel (on which this and the original film - 1972's The Poseidon Adventure - are based) and replace them with a troupe of cardboard cut-outs.

Perhaps it's the aggressive editing by Peter Honess that robs the film of its emotional centre. Peterson likes to have a bit of room to work his magic and his films are rarely under two hours long (his best ones are much longer - Das Boot for instance). Maybe Poseidon's heart is lying on the cutting room floor.

In reality it's a combination of all of these things. A great disaster film turns on one simple axis: we have to care enough about the characters to imagine ourselves in their position. That's where all the terror and excitement comes from - not lavish sets and expensive CGI effects.

It seems such a shame to dismiss a movie this technically adept as a failure - but that's what it is. Watching the action sequences, you can't help but be impressed by how much sweat and love went into each minute. The same is true of the cast, who spent weeks up to their chests in cold water, doing their best to sound convincing while shouting dumb lines about hatches and propellers. But, though it all seems so breathless at the time, you struggle to recall any high points in the action. After all you aren't invested in these moments - why should you recall them?

The most interesting thing about Poseidon is what it says about the industry it springs from. Many thought the low point was when Hollywood began to plunder ideas from violent video games (Doom) and amusement park rides (Pirates of the Caribbean). Little did we realise that "normal" movies would soon come to resemble these things.

So, if it's a 100-minute amusement park ride you're after, then you could do worse than Poseidon. Like a computer game, you don't have to care who lives and who dies, you can just enjoy the sensation of watching stuff explode. Just don't expect to remember it a week later.

- Alistair Fairweather

It's supersized, expensive, and oh so pretty, but this frantic disaster movie never lives up to its own grand promises.

Brandon 2006/06/15 11:06 AM
Review on Poseidon Haven't seen the movie, just wanted to comment on a very well written review. Nicely balanced - few and far between reviewers who understand that word "BALANCE". So good one Alistair. Will wait for the DVD. Ciao Brandon.
Movies24 2006/06/15 7:22 PM
Poseidon I actually enjoyed this film. I thought the actors did a great job- and this film was not as unrealistic as I expected it to be. The graphics was amazing, in the very first scene of the film the camera gives us a tour of the exterior boat with a beutifull sunset in the background and it's just amazing. The characters was "typical Americans" falling in love with strangers, saving the world (or atleast each other)... I enjoyed the movie and thought the director did a great job. More characters we can relate to would've been graet... o and Fergie from the Blank Eyed Peas was awesome... just don't blink you might miss her. Poseidon
Carrie Marshall 2006/06/18 2:34 PM
Poseidon this was an action packed movie!!! it is for all those who enjoy a good adventure with alot action!!! its not a happy happy movie, it really works on your nerves!!!!! you will either be bored, thouroghly enjoy it or sit biting your nails the whole way through!!!! i thoughly enjoyed it and sat biting my nails!! i believe it is a MUST SEE!!!! Poseidon.... havent seen any of the others on the circut.
Jennifer 2006/06/18 3:29 PM
Heart reanching and a thrilling movie Keeps you in suspense the whole way through. I would recomend this in a heart beat
Brigitte 2006/06/23 1:30 AM
POSEIDON I saw the original Poseidon Adventure many years ago. Who can forget the haunting theme song "A morning after"??? Haven't seen the full length new release, POSEIDON, but just having seen the trailer, my heart is pumping, so i think i would really like to see the entire movie. Hope it will live up to my expectations and not leave me with a sense of disappointment!!
Brian Hovelmeier 2006/06/23 9:40 AM
Poseiden "The Star's" reviewer gave it an eight. I give it a four. I've lost faith in their ratings, which have previously given a guide as to which films to see and which to avoid. "Poseiden" was a complete waste of time and money. "Capote"
Tania 2006/07/12 6:47 PM
poseidon Absolutely Brilliant,at first you think Titanic but no!! Peterson has done a gr8 job!!!! Poseidon
Leon 2006/07/25 8:37 PM
Poseidon Fun to watch, good but not excellent.
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