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Poseidon - Review

Josh Lucas in Poseidon

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

POSEIDON is the latest Hollywood blockbuster to try and ride the crest of the remake wave but while it’s undoubtedly exciting in places, Wolfgang Petersen’s film is ultimately a shallow experience.

Like Irwin Allen’s 1972 original (named The Poseidon Adventure), the film focuses on a group of ocean liner passengers who are forced to fight for survival when a rogue wave capsizes their luxury vessel on New Year’s Eve.

But while Allen’s film was a camp classic that threw in plenty of character back story and a religious subtext involving Gene Hackman’s Rev. Frank Scott, Petersen’s re-imagined version is a full-on rollercoaster ride that barely allows viewers to catch their breath, let alone allow any room for character development.

Hence, while there’s plenty of fun to be had in guessing who will or won’t survive, there’s no real sense of loss surrounding anyone unlucky enough to meet their demise.

The survivors this time are led by Josh Lucas’ professional gambler, who reluctantly agrees to lead the party despite only really wanting to save himself.

Along for the ride are a single mother and her son (Jacinda Barrett and Jimmy Bennett), an overbearing father who happens to be an ex-fireman and mayor (Kurt Russell), his daughter and her fiance (Emmy Rossum and Mike Vogel), a stowaway (Mia Maestro) and a suicidal businessman (Richard Dreyfuss) who just happens to be an architect.

Once banded together, this ragtag bunch are put through the physical and emotional ringer as they navigate the perils posed by lakes of fire, dangerous elevator shafts and claustrophobic air conditioning ducts.

Petersen is no slouch when it comes to piling on the tension – having previously directed the likes of Das Boot and The Perfect Storm – but his film exists to thrill on a visual level only.

There’s no real emotional attachment to any of the survivors and no sense of loss – especially in the clinical depiction of the spectacular death of the ship’s many thousands of other passengers once the wave has hit.

What’s more, one of the major plot contrivances has been lifted directly from another recent disaster epic (Armageddon), thereby rendering Poseidon a remake that also borrows from other, lesser movies.

At a time when – by the director’s own admission – the world has been affected by so many natural disasters, is it right to turn such death and destruction into big-scale entertainment?

Audiences seeking some popcorn-style Friday night fun will probably be entertained but in all other respects, Poseidon has trouble staying afloat.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 98mins