Poseidon is what Titanic has already brought to the big screen. Such theme and story has definitely sailed these waters before. It’s nothing more than a formulaic sea-travel thriller with ready-made template for the filmmakers to fill.
This disaster movie about a sinking ship is pretty formulaic stuff. What makes it considerably float to survive the depths of dullness is that it can bring some of its viewers into an almost two-hour contemplation of what people do for survival. From initially presenting a grand and spacious cruise ship to a suddenly perilous and claustrophobic death ship, Poseidonconveys how life and death decisions are made. From here, this remake of The Poseidon Adventure of the 1970s considerably becomes an intense thrill ride of watertight action.
A massive ocean liner is struck by a 150-foot killer tidal wave and flips the ship upside down. And as the clock ticks, the ship is gradually destroyed. Panicking, terrified, and trapped within the closed spaces of the sinking ship, a maverick group of passengers fight their way to the ocean surface by escaping through the bottom of the ship that is now on top of the water. It discusses the ironies and metaphors as the story starts off with a splendid and spacious cruise ship to an enclosed space lacking escape routes, along with the lives of the passengers turning upside down together with the ship, through a series of chases and escapes.
The intensity of Poseidon is primarily physical. It has solid special effects doesn’t drown the story as it blends seamlessly to the character’s actions and surroundings. On an action movie level, this movie is nerve-wracking enough when tapping into the audience’s primal fears. Seeing a number of struggling survivors passing through complicated and labyrinth-like passageways amidst other helpless souls makes it an engaging enough popcorn flick. However, the film misses on providing more elaborate characterizations. It is action-packed, yet it is quite thematically bare.
Director Wolfgang Petersen knows how to hammer tension. However, he is unable to carefully explore beyond his movie’s stereotype characters. It is quite observable that the thinly developed script is tumbled down by the requirements for large action and suspense pieces. A balance between the screenplay and the thriller requirements could have made it much better. Nevertheless, the action clichés still make huge waves to those merely seeking a suspense ride.
Kurt Russel offers something workable for the story. Josh Lucas keeps the action up and going. His physical stream as a character moves the action in a fine enough pace. Richard Dreyfuss appears too detached. While her character is significant to the story, Jacinda Barrett’s character as a single mother is so predictable and formulaic, just like most of the others. She and child actor Jimmy Bennett complement their mother-and-son role in such a clichéd way. Emmy Rossum doesn’t give justice to her role. There is no much emotional tension created between her and Russel. Their father-daughter relationship is very superficial. So goes with her relationship with her fiance portrayed by Mike Vogel.
The story doesn’t give any of the significant role enough texture. Mia Maestro becomes effective with her “panicky acting.” As usual, Black-eyed Peas frontgirl Stacy Ferguson gives a dash of musical performance for her role as a cruise ship performer. The Rossum-Vogel tandem has no chemistry at all.
This rough seas action thriller allows the audience to see how people can possibly behave and react in such a life and death situation. The treatment is still very traditional – yielding to a tried and tested box office formula. The cliches are all there. At least, Poseidon tries to connect with the audience in terms of superficial emotional curves through its own dose of drama, tension, and thrills.