Cover Art/Menu: 5/10
The word cheap comes to mind when I look at this DVD cover. I would not be compelled to rip this DVD from the shelf and race home to watch it. It reminds me of a cheap novel, but instead of a hunky dude with a damsel in distress draped over his arm, it’s a ship about to be slung into certain doom by a rather large wave. Since that’s what the whole movie is about, it’s appropriate, but still tacky. The menu is functional but with the same uninteresting flare about it.
A small making of piece and a trailer nothing to see here folks move along. If you want extras there is a 2 disc special edition for a couple of extra bucks.
The Movie: 6/10
Let’s not kid ourselves people. We can bullshit all day long about how films are art and meant to reflect society..blah blah. But let’s face it, some movies are nothing more than titillating-action-adventure-nail-biting-edge-of-your-seat-stimulating-distractions. That doesn’t make them good or bad, it just is what it is. “A good night at the movies.” I didn’t coin the phrase and I wasn’t the one who applied it to Poseidon, but it’s very true.
From start to finish we are treated to some very cool spectacles. The opening sequence gives us the grand exterior tour of a luxury liner so dreamy and amazing I had to pry my brain away from believing it could possibly exist. It’s overly dramatic and when we see our “hero” for the first time close up, it’s pretty dang cheezy. He stands overlooking the many decks of the ship and the sea. For some reason, every time I see a shot of the whole ocean I get a certain kind of doom in my belly. I call it PTSD, “Post Titanic Stress Disorder”. I did see the original Poseidon Adventure, so knowing the fate of this monster ship was looming over my head anyway.
Oh, you haven’t seen the original, and you have lived under a rock for the past 30 years? Well, forget the doom thing and hope for the best.
The cast is full of famous faces and some of what I like to call, anonymous famous faces. You will think to yourself, “I know that guy/chick, but I have no idea what I saw them in or what his/her name is.” Richard Dryfus and Kurt Russell lead the pack, so that’s good enough for me. Their characters aren’t exactly interesting, then again, no one in this movie will take up much space in the memory banks of your mind. There is the brave father figure, the semi-rebellious daughter and unapproved fiancé, the dumped gay older man on the edge of suicide, the single mom and kid, a stow away, and the mouthy one-liner slim ball. I can’t spoil things for ya, but I will say this script doesn’t have time to give slim balls much screen time, lucky us.
More good luck, when the ship is hit with a rouge wave (I’m thinking it’s left over from Deep Impact a few years ago) a rag tag group of survivors are determined to make their way to the um, bottom/top of the ship to escape, or jump into the freezing waters, or fly away on a giant bird, whatever. Anyway, they happen to have amongst them an ex-fireman/politician and an ex-Navy man. I understand, if the situation were real, these types of people would most likely rise to the top of the food chain and make the best effort to survive. I just have to tick that box in my brain that shuts off the believabilityometer. That’s not fair, I know, I just have to tell it like it is. This is a movie about superficial character stereotypes overcoming great odds and life threatening situations with lots of explosions, bloodied dead people, a sinking ship, sharp edges, and heart pounding near death moments. I liked it.
It has moments of taking itself a bit too seriously, but then again, this is the third in a series of water logged tragedies by Director Wolfgang Peterson (Das Boot and The Perfect Storm). He has room in his movies for the drama, and the tension, it’s just that he kind of forgets to turn down the sappy, emotional dial. That added sentimentality does it’s magic and just when I was well into an action sequence, sitting up straighter, gritting my teeth, someone has to go and be too brave or too afraid and it pokes a big hole in my excitement balloon.
The stunts and the special effects, along with the sets are all AMAZING! This is a great looking movie, even if it falls short on the dialogue and character front, it’s got so much more to offer visually. I loved seeing the wave hit the ship. It was thrilling to imagine. I don’t want a real ship to be blind sided, I’m not a freak, I’m just saying it’s something to think about. The sets were almost all real, not CGI that is. So, when they are in a grand lobby with fire, water, and falling debris, it’s real. The actors had to swim, dive, jump, climb, and do lots of their own stunts, which does boost the credibility points for me. The people in the shot might be boring and forgettable, but the fallen elevator hanging precariously over bubbling burning water and fuel is not something I will soon forget.
Oh, before I end it all, I have to go back to the “bloody dead people” thing. The movie has a rating that includes extreme violence. That doesn’t mean you see people attacking people. It’s just that Peterson was not afraid to show some pretty severely injured, tossed around, and burned folks to keep things kinda real. I totally appreciate the severity of some of the scenes with people getting electrocuted, burned alive, falling down to hard surfaces (and we are not patronized by the camera turning away, we see the impact). I sound morbid and all that, but sometimes I want a movie with guts enough to tell its story without pretending that I’m a 10 year old who needs my eyes and ears protected from the bad stuff that happens in some stories. It’s a ship that’s been toppled by a giant wave. There’s gonna be blood, death, destruction, and mayhem. Poseidon gives it to us (about 90% anyway) on a silver platter.
What this movie lacks in quality characters and script it makes up for in how it looks and the fact that when it’s over you feel like you have been there trying to survive with the best of them. It doesn’t deserve a great score on the movie quality scale, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good enough to belly up to when you are in the mood for some action.
You know what? It doesn’t matter what this DVD costs. Just rent it. I rarely TELL anyone what to do when it comes to movies. I am willing to say my opinion and even be biased on occasion :), but this time, I truly mean this. Rent Poseidon or wait for it to come on HBO in the next few months. It’s a good movie adventure, but it’s not the kind of flick you will most likely desperately have to have in your collection. It’s worth watching, just not purchasing.
Overall Score 6/10