Monday, July 03, 2006

Riding the Waves

Poseidon (2006)
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
Starring: Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, Emmy Rossum, Mia Maestro, Jacinda Barrett, Mike Vogel, Jimmy Bennett

Wolfgang Petersen's remake of the 1972 disaster classic, The Poseidon Adventure, reverting simply to the title of its vessel, Poseidon, tells the story of a lavish cruise ship upturned by a vicious tidal wave on the stroke of New Year. A group of its wealthy inhabitants then embark on a crusade to escape the sinking boat before it, and they, plunge to an untimely end.

Among the band of passengers desperately fleeing is former New York Mayor (Russell), who has doubts about his daughter's (Rossum) relationship with her fianceé (Vogel); an illegal stowaway (Maestro), a heartbroken architect (Dreyfuss), and a young mother (Barrett) and her son (Bennett). They are led by dynamic loner Dylan Johns (Lucas), whose architectural knowledge they rely on far less than his daredevil antics.

Petersen, who perhaps wanted to be taken a little too seriously in his last two offerings (The Perfect Storm, Troy) achieves a much more comfortable outcome when playing to a more thrill-seeking audience. He captures Poseidon with a sweeping grace, and an almost boastful dream-like vigour. With throwbacks to Titanic, he serves up a breathtaking feast of colour and design that paint an ironically gorgeous portrait of destruction.

Although none of the characters are explored in any great depth individually, the constant dynamic of the group, and the way that they interact more than atones for this. As an ensemble the group are solid, and collectively exude a spirit of togetherness that makes them believeable as a unit. Aside from the blatant question of whether Russell's plucky son-in-law will gain his acceptance, Poseidon is refreshingly different in its attempt to drive the narrative, incrementally building relationships within the group thoughtfully and carefully, rather than relying on underdeveloped subplots. As anticipated, the action/adventure elements of the movie include several near-misses and spontaneous outbursts of genius. Nevertheless, Poseidon does succeed in shedding some of its bulky blockbuster cheese, regardless of its occasional predictability.

It's fair to say that Poseidon doesn't rake over any new territory here. It unabashedly possesses all of the most common disaster movie traits, leaving very little cliché unturned in its ninety-minute assault. But with the expertise of Mr. Petersen -- he cuts the film to a meagre 98 minutes -- every minute is a tireless and utterly exhilarating experience. Blockbusters and remakes have been faltering of late -- let's just say Poseidon kills those particular two birds with just one stone.

Grade: B

1 comment:

RC said...

this is definitly a film i have skipped on purpose.

--RC of