May 17, 2006

"Poseidon" Review

Well here's a movie that was well hyped and was not only slammed by critics but fell well short of expectations for its opening weekend gross.

So, of course, I had to see it.

Let me start off by saying that the original, "The Poseiden Adventure", is my all-time favorite 1970's-era disaster flick. And one of the biggest reasons is Gene Hackman. I even own a VHS copy. That being said, I had adjusted my expectations down in the hope that they would be exceeded.

Here's the bottom line: It's "Titanic" without the two and a half hour build-up. If you're claustrophobic or have a fear of drowning, this one could be uncomfortable to watch. The emphasis here is constant peril. The minute the ship flips, there isn't a moment to lose. It's almost as if the director, Wolfgang Peterson, doesn't believe in letting the audience catch it's breath (though you will find yourself holding your breath to see if some of the scenes are plausible).

Visually, the film is stunning. From the opening sweep of the luxury liner to the submerged explosions, you see a lot of detail. In particular, you will see a lot of people either through the windows or being jettisoned out of the part of the ship while that's underwater. The effect is to reinforce the idea that the ship is filled with thousands of people, most of whom are doomed. You didn't really get that sense with the original.

The rogue wave that capsized the ship is well done - but not over done. The special effects really require an in-theater viewing. They're that good.

Now the downside. The movie is only about 90 minutes long. And the journey to the hull involves fewer people than Gene Hackman's 1972 group of survivors. Needless to say, you don't get a whole lot of time to get to know these people. You get a cursory introduction to their backstory, but that's it. And frankly, it's hard to get attached to any of them. Some of them you just don't care about. The performances are strong but fleeting.

It almost seems nowadays that filmmakers don't want to slow down and let the audience connect to the characters because they're afraid that they will disconnect if they are not overwhelmed with action sequences. Maybe this is true. But how many times have you watched the deleted scenes feature of a DVD and the commentary is always the same: "This was one of our favorite scenes but it had to go for pacing reasons". What do they teach these guys in film school these days? Hey, for nine bucks I want those deleted scenes. I want my money's worth.

I started this review by saying that "Poseidon" was "Titanic" without the build-up. Perhaps Hollywood is sensitive to the fact that the biggest complaint about "Titanic" was the running time. But then again, that movie did gross $1.8 billion worldwide. A movie doesn't make that kind of money unless a lot of people see it over and over again. So what's the problem? Sounds to me more like a fear of artistic criticism than anything else.

"Poseidon" is very broad in scope, yet it lacks depth. It feels like it floods (no pun intended) your senses in too short a time. It's like that special rollercoaster you wait in line an hour for and it's over in three minutes. You really enjoyed it at the time but question whether the wait in line was really worth it.

I can recommend this movie with a caveat: If you want a fast-paced thriller with lots of eye candy, it's worth seeing in the theater. It's worth it, that is, if you see it the way I did - in a huge multiplex with reclining seats, lots of leg room and a nearly empty theater (a weeknight is best). Show up ten minutes after the start time to avoid the annoying commercials that they show nowadays and worst case scenario is you only lost an hour and half of your life that you'll never get back. It's probably best to go after the season finales of all your favorite tv shows are over.

Rating (using the "NetFlix" scale): Three out of Five Stars (Liked it).

Posted by: Gary at 09:35 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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1 Shelley Winters was the hero of the original. I assume they cut that part, since nobody would put a woman that size in a movie these days. Maybe I'll go see it.

Posted by: rightwingprof at May 17, 2006 01:34 PM (hj1Wx)

2 I'll grant that Shelly Winters was the hero, but Ernest Borgnine was the anchor of that film. I gotta disagree about Hackman, Gary. He annoyed me more than he inspired me. He overplayed every scene. That scene where Borgnine surfaces and tries to tell Winters (Mrs. Rosen) that she'd done a great job and is stopped cold by Hackman 'cuz she's dead and Borgnine says "Aww jeeze...!" is classic. And that scene where Linda falls to her death and Borgnine says "Preacher! You had me fooled! I almost believed in you, but now you've taken away the only thing I ever loved... my Linda! You killed her! You killed her! You killed her. You killed killed her..." After Hackman sacrifices himself to close that valve, Red Buttons says "You heard the preacher... Get us through!" Not getting a rise out of him, he challenges with "What kind of a cop were you?" Borgnine looks up -- smacked to his senses -- and leads them onward. You said this version of the story is short on characters. I've never been impressed with "special effects". Unless they make the story better. Is there anything in this adaption that I might appreciate? Obviously, Carol Lynley is nowhere to be seen...

Posted by: Tuning Spork at May 20, 2006 12:01 AM (UdSDL)


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Posted by: nigga at June 14, 2011 04:43 AM (sZzLw)

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