Why? Why?? Why??? Why does Hollywood feel the need, year after year, to remake and remodel? In 1972 Irwin Allen virtually invented the ?isaster movie?genre when THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE ?cruise liner upended by tidal wave and survivors struggle to escape ?and this pointless remake doesn? come close to having the impact of the original, despite all the enormous strides in digital technology which make the overturning of the ship in the original movie look like the result of a kid in a bath having a hissy fit with a plastic toy.
The story remains the same ?with a few trendy amendments to allow for modern tastes. The new Poseidon is a state-of-the-art luxury liner, the scale and size of it cleverly invoked in the opening credits sequence where the camera follows the jogging John Dylan (Lucas) as he runs around the deck on a morning constitutional. There are swimming pools, ball rooms, discos, lavish accommodation suites?t? a city on the sea. At just 98 minutes the film doesn? have time to waste on trivia like characterisation so we?e rapidly introduced to the Cast of Cliches. The ever-dependable Kurt Russell plays Robert Ramsay, former New York Mayor and, usefully, ex-firefighter, who? on holiday with his daughter and her feckless boyfriend. Then there? compulsive gambler Dylan, depressed gay Richard Nelson (Dreyfuss), the obligatory single mum and her irritating son Connor and a handful of others who are just there to make up the numbers and meet fiery ends. As in the original movie the passengers are enjoying a sumptuous New Year? Eve ball when the ship is flattened by a ?ogue wave?and turned upside down. The FX here really are astonishing and some of the scenes of death and devastation are terrifyingly realistic, bodies tossed around like rag dolls, flattened and squashed, electrocuted. It? a nerve-jangling sequence but it? not long before we?e back on the safer ground of corny dialogue and cheesy action acting. ?ow bad is it??one bloodied survivor asks Richard Dreyfuss, whose character is suddenly redeemed by an unlikely association with frightened Maggie (Barrett). ?ery bad,?replies Dreyfuss with a spectacular grasp of the art of understatement. Later, as all Hell breaks loose and the depleted band of survivors are an ace away from escape but frustrated by whirling propellers in the bow. One bloke grabs his girly and, as explosions explode and things fall down around them, he earnestly tells her that ? need you to tell me you love me!? As you would.
The film rattles along and there? never a dull moment. As in the original it? fun playing the ?ho? going to die next??game and there are a couple of surprises as one or two characters meet their demise earlier than might have been expected. Anyone familiar with Roddy McDowell? role in the 1972 film shouldn? expect to see Freddy (SIX FEET UNDER) Rodriguez make it far into the second act and there? a genuine shock as one major player doesn? make it to the credits.
POSEIDON is all about spectacle. It? a shame that the characters are so one-dimensional and uninteresting as their plight as they struggle to reach the top/bottom of the ship and make their way to freedom, is genuinely quite gripping and the scene where they?e trapped in a ventilation shaft will touch the same raw nerve as the cave sequence in THE DESCENT. There are the usual unlikely last-minute escapes and some real horror ?the sequence where the rest of the survivors, milling about in the shattered ballroom, flee hopelessly as the windows crack under the pressure of the water outside is ghastly and there are graphic images of charred and drowned bodies which, in all honesty, are likely to live longer in the memory than any of the perils encountered by Kurt and co.
It all ends spectacularly as the Poseidon finally gives up the ghost and sinks beneath the waves (mercifully removing any possibility of a remake of BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE) and it won? be spoiling anyone? enjoyment of the movie to reveal that the last few survivors are left bobbing about in a life raft as a couple of CGI helicopters circle overhead.
Wolfgang Petersen, a director far more interested in water than can ever be considered healthy (DAS BOOT, PERFECT STORM) has delivered a feisty, workmanlike, thoroughly entertaining little film but, with nothing much to commend it on the acting or scripting front, it remains frustratingly vacuous and, with the original still holding up extremely well, ultimately entirely pointless.