Poseidon
Why yes, those are lovely reasons to see this film.

Theatrical Release Date: 05/12/2006
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Cast: Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, Jacinda Barrett, Richard Dreyfuss, Emmy Rossum, Mike Vogel, Kevin Dillon, Mía Maestro, Jimmy Bennett, Freddy Rodríguez

How do you know when the summer movie season has kicked into gear? Well, just look for all the major releases to be sequels, remakes, or star Tom Hanks.

Case in point, director Wolfgang Petersen’s take on “The Poseidon Adventure.”

What? The movie will score better with the younger demographic if we make the name sound less hokey and more epic?

How about, “Rogue Wave”? No?

Ummm …. “Big Boat Blown-over Backwards”? No again?

Well … “Crack the Scrotum”? Yes! That’s it!

Wait, we can’t call it that, huh? Stupid teenagers. Ok fine, let’s just call it “Poseidon” and move on. In this updated take on the 70’s original, Andre Braugher is the captain of the ill-fated Poseidon. Then a massive ‘rogue wave’ (Seriously, we can’t use that? Ok, fine.) delivers the coup de whoop-ass and tips the big boat over.

While Braugher and ex-Kids Incorporated star Stacy “You Can Call Me Fergie” Ferguson don’t die immediately, let’s just say they aren’t long for this world. Mad I told you that they don’t make it to safety? Honestly, you know you’re not surprised.

Anyway, a rag-tag bunch of upstarts gather together and instead of waiting around to be rescued, decide to find their way out of the ship on their own. This gaggle of independent thinkers are comprised of Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, Jacinda Barrett, Richard Dreyfuss, Emmy Rossum, Mike Vogel, Kevin Dillon, Mía Maestro, Jimmy Bennett and Freddy Rodríguez.

That’s a lot of people to include in a movie script. As fate would have it, by the end of the film (surprise, surprise) there aren’t so many characters to worry about giving lines to anymore.

I will stop giving away things at this point just in case you’re headed to the multi-plex to catch the flick. Which brings me all the way back to the point of this rambling. Should you see the film?

Well, yes and no. I suppose fans of the original may have an interest in seeing another take on this story. And those of you who like disaster films and just want a bit of a thrill ride may enjoy yourselves as well. That leaves all of you snobby, independent cinema crowd. Oddly enough, “Poseidon” may not be for you.

Now if you’re in either of the first two categories, here’s what you can expect: explosions, water, screaming, climbing, swimming, dead people, more water, fire, a little more swimming, a lot more screaming and much more water.

Sound good? Well, most of it is. I had gone into the theater expecting a clunker, something way too bogged down by sappy goodbyes and needless diatribes. I expected wrong.

I must thank Wolfgang and his crew for keeping the film moving at a brisk pace and stopping only to help set up another perilous obstacle to our group’s intended goal of finding a way off the boat.

What sappy speeches there are don’t slow the movie’s momentum much and serve to help flesh out the characters. Though, let’s be honest. This is a big budget disaster film so don’t go into it expecting Mamet-like wit or Dickensian character development.

I did have a few problems with “Poseidon” though and I’m sure that doesn’t shock you.

First, the opening scene sets this movie up to be a very, very bad movie. It’s a long drawn out shot of the exterior of the boat. That might sound like a good idea but maybe the producers should have shelled out some more cash to make the CGI look better. I think the shots in “Titanic” back in 1996 looked better. Seriously, these are some of the worst effects I’ve seen since “Extreme Ops” use of blue screen.

Also, when a huge cruise ship capsizes and multiple explosions are set off as things short circuit, all of that chaos creates sound and vibration in the ocean. Those things bring sharks. Lots of them. Read accounts of naval ships going down and you’re bound to find multiple tales of people being gobbled up by some sleek, toothy bastards.

But not in “Poseidon”. There’s not one shot of a shark or any other sea creature for that matter. I’m not necessarily a marine biologist but I spent enough time at Sea World as a kid to know that’s not realistic.

The last big problem I had with the film is the ending but I suppose I can’t really talk about that since many of you are reading this before or instead of watching “Poseidon”. Let me just say that partially due to more horrendous CGI and moreover due to an almost deus ex machina type of deal, I got the giggles as the ordeal was beginning to truly wrap up.

Now back to the good points. The acting was solid all around. Even Josh Lucas managed to stay on my good side. Though I think at this point, casting directors are just throwing Josh Lucas in because they need a certain look. Poor Ben Affleck. If he hadn’t gone nuts and done the Bennifer thing, maybe he would be getting these plum roles. Oh well, that doesn’t really matter to me anyway.

The direction was good as well, as Petersen did a nice job of keeping the story moving and the action was done fairly well. I must say that I’m both relieved and perturbed at how decent this film turned out. I had gone into the theater hoping for a true stinker and it ended up being an okay summer popcorn flick. (Though constantly having Emmy Rossum bend towards the camera in a low cut shirt didn’t hurt either.)

So if you want a thrill ride, go ahead and check out “Poseidon”. I’m giving it a stamp of approval and sending it on its voyage with a 3 out of 5. And if you learn anything from this film, let it be this: If you find yourself trapped in an ocean liner underneath the surface of the ocean, don’t hang out in a room with windows. They tend to break under pressure.