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“Poseidon” {Blu-ray}
Wayne Klein
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date:
Special Features:

Featurettes, “Shipmate’s Diary”


It seems every book, film or play is going to get remade in my lifetime as well as yours. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing because these reinterpretations DO allow these projects to come to life again and be relevant to a new generation of people. However, “ Poseidon” manages to be capsized by its own good intentions to try and reinvent the original film when it doesn’t need to be redone at all. ***

Where the film truly runs aground is in the area of character development; the film tries to jump right into the disaster without setting up the characters so we care about them which is very much a flaw of most modern disaster movies—playing to the ADD of modern iPod/internet instant gratification audience. Instead of trusting that the audience will buy into a well written drama with characters that happens to have a major disaster happen, the filmmakers, instead go for cinematic short hand and create characters that are defined by minimal dialogue and “types”. One thing that the disaster movies of the 70’s and even the 80’s had going for them (aside from the soap opera like plots) were characters that were developed with clear definition as to why they behaved the way they did. Even if that meant casting actors based on “type” that could bring a certain amount of gravis and character to their performances (for example Charlton Heston in “Earthquake”), the film directors of that time recognized a means to develop cinematic short hand that would compliment the soap opera plot and characters. ***

Wolfgang Petersen’s “Poseidon” takes the basic template but doesn’t flesh it out so that, instead, we get a massive wave of action that overwhelms any attempt to develop meaningful drama so we don’t really care like most adrenaline junkies about anything except the next big disaster moment. It’s a pity, too, because Petersen has assembled a marvelous cast including Kurt Russell, Jose Lucas, Jimmy Bennett, Richard Dreyfus, Mia Maestro and Jacinda Barrett all of whom are completely WASTED in their trivial roles as bookmarks until the next disaster rolls through. So does “Poseidon” stay afloat as a drama? No. The writing is little more that functional moving us from point A to point B with as little mess as possible and as little suspense or interest as well. The one strong point of the film are the often stunning visual effects which isn’t a surprise given Petersen’s other films. *** For those that don’t know “ Poseidon” focuses on a luxury liner on its maiden voyage that capsizes when a tsunami wave overwhelms the ship flipping it upside down in the ocean but keeping it afloat. The various characters must get to the stern of the ship to survive and find a way out of the ship before they run out of air or the ship sinks. ---

Image & Sound:

“Poseidon” looks as surprisingly soft in its Blu-ray debut. Colors are vivid and the transfer is decent despite the inherent softness of the picture. ***

Audio sounds quite nice with an effective DTS-HD Lossless 5.1 mix. The soundstage is marvelous throughout and the presentation is alive with activity. ---

Special Features:

All of the special features are presented in standard definition which is disappointing. ***

“Poseidon: A Ship on a Soundstage” takes us behind-the-scenes for about a half hour of footage of the actors on set discussing the making of the movie. ***

“Shipmate’s Diary” runs around 13 minutes and gives a production grunt’s point-of-view as Production Assistant Malona Voigt runs errands on the set. Ahhh I remember those days well…. ***

“Poseidon: Upside Down” looks at the challenge of building the entire set upside down. ***

“Rogue Waves” is a documentary from the History Channel that takes us into the real events that could flip a ship like Poseidon. ---

Final Words:

If director Petersen had flipped the concept of “The Poseidon Adventure” someone on its head, this “remake” “Poseidon” might have been interesting. Instead, we get a rehash of the original with better visual effects, less involving characters and a screenplay that seems like it was written by a series of sea creatures that know very little about human behavior. Stick with the original film which features iconic performances and at least is suspenseful.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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