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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - Edition No 908 

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GHOST SHIP

SYNOPSIS:
The hot-shot salvage team from the pugnacious tug, Arctic Warrior, led by Sean Murphy (Gabriel Byrne) and First Mate Greer (Isaiah Washington) is relaxing in a bar after a hazardous but successful operation when a stranger (Desmond Harrington) points them to what could be a major coup: a missing vessel with hidden treasure. When they accept the strangerís proposition and cut him in on the deal, the team discovers the opulent Italian liner Antonia Graza, which disappeared in May 1962, in a remote part of the Bering Sea. Sheís afloat but rusty and abandoned; as they begin their salvage, they discover the ship is not as deserted as she seems. And a lot less peaceful . . .†


Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Ghost ships have a wonderful mystique, a timeless and dangerous attraction for both filmmakers and audiences. They tug at our imaginations and our sense of wonder, coupled with the awesome mystery of the sea. But they have to be carefully written and constructed; and restrained. This ghost / horror story stretches beyond the creative capacities of the writers and falls foul of its own ambitious intentions to go further than the genre allows. Thatís not to say rules should be obeyed, but story telling is of paramount importance. Donít diddle the audience. And donít add supernatural B to supernatural A Ė it ends up Y. There is a sense of predictability about the film after the promising start and for all its good intentions it never takes us on board with its mish mash of ghosts, mysticism and spiritual concoction. Otherwise, itís great. Terrific performances from a truly talented ensemble cast and excellent technicals (although not jawdropping these days), the film crawls to its final berth with just enough air left to avoid sinking. I am surprised that the legendary producer Joel Silver didnít demand a couple of final re-writes.†

Review by Louise Keller:
A supernatural adventure set on the high seas, Ghost Ship is enjoyable escapist entertainment that offers a few good scares and a compelling cast. Although most of the action is set in the present day, thereís one scene in particular that haunts me. Itís right at the beginning of the film, when we witness the gruesome events on board the majestic liner channelling through the high seas forty years ago. Itís a shocking scene that comes so unexpectedly, that we hardly have time to look away. What is clever about the construct, is that the events immediately connect us to the characters that have just met. First of all, thereís the seductive chanteuse in the blood-red, body-hugging strapless gown with matching long red gloves and red drop earrings. Then thereís the bored little girl and the Captain who asks her to dance. The images of these characters are imprinted in our mind, and we are not likely to forget them. Itís almost a relief when we leave the past and come to the present, where the salvage team are jiving. But thereís something rather eerie about a deserted vessel, and we can almost smell the dank, stale air as the team venture through the corridors and cabins in pursuit of clues as to what happened to its passengers. Putting a spin on the premise of a haunted house by taking us out to sea, the deserted liner location brings elements of isolation and claustrophobia, turning a simple salvage rescue mission into a nightmare of horror. Then strange things start to happen when the past and the present seem to meet in a limbo world of creepy madness. The main appeal of the film lies in its engaging characters, especially by its strong female protagonist, who combines gutsy decisions with human vulnerability. In a role that demands physicality as well as mental adeptness, Juliana Marguelies is striking as Epps, and we care for her more than any of the other characters. I like Gabriel Byrne as Captain Sean Murphy too, whose air of mystery gives him added appeal; the unspoken relationship between Epps and Sean is a subplot that is never fully developed. Good support by Isaiah Washington, while Karl Urban and Alex Dimitriades add diversity and lively interaction. Desmond Harrington is cleverly cast, with his everyman persona allowing him to be invisible for much of the narrative. Shot in Australia, the production design is excellent, allowing us to believe that we are really on a ship that has been deteriorating over time in the middle of nowhere. The stunts are impressive, and while Ghost Ship offers little that hasnít been done before, it is very well executed and good Saturday afternoon thrills.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

GHOST SHIP (MA)
(US)

CAST: Julianna Margulies, Ron Eldard, Desmond Harrington, Isaiah Washington, Karl Urban, Alex Dimitriades and Gabriel Byrne

PRODUCER: Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis, Gilbert Adler

DIRECTOR: Steve Beck

SCRIPT: Mark Hanlon, John Pogue (story by Mark Hanlon)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gale Tattersall

EDITOR: Roger Barton

MUSIC: John Frizzell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Graham ĎGraceí Walker

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 5, 2002







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