On New Year's Eve in the North Atlantic, guests are celebrating in the ballroom of the luxury cruise ship Poseidon on route to New York, when a rogue wave hits the ship. While some survivors wait for rescue, professional gambler Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas) tests the odds and sets off to make his own escape. Nine year old Conor (Jimmy Bennett) asks that he and his mother Maggie (Jacinda Barrett) come too. Ex fireman Robert Ramey (Kurt Russell) is not far behind, with his daughter Jennifer (Emmy Rossum) and her fiancé Christian (Mike Vogel). Stowaway (Mia Maestro), the heartbroken and suicidal Nelson (Richard Dreyfuss) and a waiter who knows the ship's layout (Freddy Rodriguez) also join the group, as Dylan leads them upwards to the surface - if the sinking ship and exploding gases don't get them first.
Review by Louise Keller:
When The Poseidon Adventure was released in 1976, based on Paul Gallico's novel, it was called a disaster movie, joining others such as Earthquake in 1974 and the Airport movies in 1970, 1975 and 1977. Audiences have always been partial to watching distress unfolding; they can relate to bad things happening and it is especially comforting to feel the adrenalin rush in the comfort of a cinema or home entertainment environment.
Whether or not this story of a luxury ocean liner that capsizes mid ocean on New Year's Eve needs to be retold is debatable, but Wolfgang Petersen's big budget watery affair works on some levels. Superb technically with no cost spared on the special effects, Poseidon floats on its budget and mostly satisfies, despite a tired storyline and a script whose inane and predictable lines will make you squirm. 'Help me, please,'; 'It's just dead people, right?'; 'Get back sweetie, don't look down'; 'God rest our souls'; 'We can do this'; 'It's all right baby'; 'Did you miss me?'
There's a marvellous opening shot in which with one spine-tingling swoop, the camera spies Josh Lucas' Dylan Johns jogging, before zooming up, around the front of the ship and over the top deck Jacuzzi where Dylan looks up to see a spectacular sunset. (It's all CG (but you would never know), and matches John Seale's superb and real cinematography. The introductions to the characters with whom we are going to spend the next 98 minutes are mercifully short, and the moment of impact is dramatic and impressive, when the massive wave curls around the liner as if it were a surfer riding submerged. It's with fascination rather than terror that we watch and the sequences with the most tension are the underwater ones. I held my breath a few times, testing my lung capacity with those of the actors, reminding myself when I did not score very well, that I was up against Hollywood and the actors are always made to look good.
Having said that, I am full of admiration for the cast, who endured being submerged underwater and stuck in claustrophobic tunnels for much of the film's running time. Kurt Russell is good value as the heroic, former fireman, Emmy Rossum lovely as his love-struck daughter and Josh Lucas at his best in the action scenes. Australian actress Jacinda Barrett does a fine job, and her strapless black dress successfully defies gravity throughout the wash. Not all the characters make it, of course, but we know that the rescue will come eventually to the little band that does. A little gripe about the music, which is sound on its own terms, but signals only too readily how we should feel and when we should feel it.
Poseidon is pretty much what you would expect - a slick result from technical prowess, aimed for a popcorn audience.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's exactly what you expect from the director of Das Boot, in which a submarine and her crew face a death-defying struggle to survive underwater hazards. And the man who created The Perfect Storm on screen ... which was also shot by Australia's John Seale, as is this film, much to its advantage.
Poseidon (like its predecessor, The Poseidon Adventure) is a disaster movie in which characters define themselves simply by their actions and interactions. It's perhaps the simplest forms of drama, and the most resistant to subtlety. But it comes ready made with dramatic tension to burn, which keeps this film afloat a lot longer than its critics will have you believe. The dialogue is often bilge water, but this is not a film you see for the dialogue.
The two primary actors who bring emotional connection to their roles are Emmy Rossum of Phantom fame, and Kurt Russell, surprisingly enough. Little Jimmy Bennett is terrific, too while Richard Drefuss and Mia Maestro also help out in the vulnerability stakes (Dreyfuss plays the broken hearted half of a gay couple).
But the real stars of the film are the CG artists who created the whole ship; none of the exteriors are real, and the seamless effects are a significant element in taking us into the dangerous heart of the catastrophe. Tension begins to build fairly early and never lets up: Wolfgang Petersen's direction is focused and the production designers have created a searingly realistic hellhole of the upside down Poseidon, with flash fires, explosive water and crushing cascades of broken stuff. If it's these kinds of thrills you're after, Wolfgang is your man.
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CAST: Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, Jacinda Barrett, Richard Dreyfuss, Jimmy Bennett, Emmy Rossum, Mike Vogel, Mía Maestro
PRODUCER: Mike Fleiss, Akiva Goldsman, Duncan Henderson, Wolfgang Petersen
DIRECTOR: Wolfgang Petersen
SCRIPT: Mark Protosevich (novel by Paul Gallico)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Seale ACS, ASC
EDITOR: Peter Honess
MUSIC: Klaus Badelt
PRODUCTION DESIGN: William Sandell
RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 1, 2006