BluRay/DVD Reviews

POSEIDON

By • Aug 22nd, 2006 •

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(Warner Bros Home Entertainment) 2006. 97 mins. 2 discs. Widescreen.
“PG-13” for intense prolonged sequences of disaster and peril (Editor’s note: one of the most amusing qualifications I’ve read from the MPAA). Four supplementary docs.

This disaster film has the pace of an action film. It clocks in at 89 minutes without the end title sequence. And as was evidenced on the IMAX release, it’s a tour de force of in-your-face pyrotechnics, with gorgeously sharp looking images, and a rousing sound mix (only topped this year so far by WORLD TRADE CENTER). Helmer Wolfgang Peterson claims it’s the third in his ‘water trilogy’, preceded by DAS BOOT and THE PERFECT STORM. In the other two, he explains, professionals confronted the sea, whereas here it’s ordinary citizens pitted against the destructive force of the elements.

And our ordinary citizens include Kurt Russell (good, as always), Richard Dreyfuss (wonderful), Josh Lucas (surprisingly good, in the role with the most pronounced dramatic arc), Emmy Rossum (oddly ineffective for an actress who has proved herself to be quite magnetic on film), Mia Maestro (a great actress, pretty much thrown to the sharks here), and Kevin Dillon (slimy, and we know where his character’s ending up…it’s just a matter of when).

‘There’ Got To Be A Morning After’, the memorable ballad warbled by Carol Lynley in the 1972 version of the film (THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE – Fox Home Entertainment) has mutated into a Salsa number here, and that’s indicative of the thinking that went into the remake for the most part, which is that they wanted to get as far away from directly repeating scenes, bits of business, or characters from the original. Obviously they were locked into using the rogue wave, but in that case, the technology has gone so far beyond where Ronald Neame’s film was able to go that the fun of that sequence is seeing what they’ve been able to do with the exact same idea. However, they’ve changed all the cast characters and motivations, thus keeping comparisons between the two films only to ‘which version did you like better’ rather than allowing references to specific characters that might have overlapped. As I mentioned in my coverage of the film theatrically, the only aspect that didn’t equal or better the original was the art direction – all the surrealistic hanging sets are noticeably absent. Certainly they could have done it for $140,000,000.+ Why they didn’t, who knows? This version is far more claustrophobic, and maybe therein lies the answer.

The featurette on Disc One discusses and illustrates the opening two-and-a-half-minute shot, the most complex single shot ever undertaken. While it doesn’t top Welles’ opening tour de force in TOUCH OF EVIL for sheer genius and narrative drive, it’s a great, vivid piece of work, and you’ll enjoy seeing the thought that went into it.

We don’t get Shelley Winters swimming in her underwear (she’s actually referenced in one of the featurettes, and the implication is that her aquatic display was something they knew they couldn’t top), but the actors are all physically game, and the results are quite kinetic. You know that effects galore have undetectably been added afterwards, but somehow, under all that superimposed fire and water, the cast is still taking risks, and it’s an impressive ensemble effort.

Among the interesting supplements is a film school graduate’s video diary of the production. Her most unusual subject is the ‘Dummy Wrangler. ’ And there is a History Channel doc on Rogue Waves which is a bit unsettling. There may actually be as many as one ship or oil rig sinking a year from this formidable natural phenomenon.

Ideal Double Bill: Well, you know what you should watch it with. How could you not want to compare the two? Considering the reasonable running time, a twin-disaster-film-fest would be just the right length for an evening’s viewing.


Directed by Wolfgang Peterson.
Screenwriter – Mark Protosevich.
Director of photography – John Seale.
Editor – Peter Honess.
Foley Artist – Alyson Dee Moore.
Sound Designer: Peter Michael Sullivan.

With:
Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss, Emmy Rossum, Kevin Dillon, Mia Maestro, Andre Braugher.

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