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Directed by Wolfgang Petersen.
Written by Mark Protosevich.  Based on the novel by Paul Gallico.
Starring Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, Emmy Rossum and Richard Dreyfuss.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  5/14/06


No, the new film "Poseidon" is never as good as the 1972 version of Paul Gallico's novel, starring Gene Hackman and Shelley Winters, for a number of reasons...the biggest being the performances of the leads, in addition to the very end of the movie, which is stunning.  In the new version, Wolfgang Petersen and his team turn this into a blow-up-the-set fantasy that didn't make me really get into the characters as much.

In the present day, the ocean liner Poseidon gets hit by a big-ass wave right after New Year's is celebrated in the liner's ballroom, flipping the ship over and sealing its impending doom.  While one of the ship's officers (Andre Braugher, WAY too talented to be in this film) tries to call his ship's guests down after the captain and his crew are killed, a gambler (Josh Lucas), the former mayor of New York (Kurt Russell), his daughter (Emmy Rossum), and a few others tell the officer to fuck off and find their own way off the ship!

After the initial ship-flipping, I was amazed at how calm everyone was given that they had just watched their impenetrable seacraft literally flip over and have literally hundreds of fellow passengers die around them.  After about five minutes, the majority of the folks we must follow around were in "Okay, everybody just died in a natural disaster; we need to roll outta here pronto!"  Wouldn't they have been a little more caught up in the disaster?  Maybe not.  But, giving us adventurers that aren't caught up in the moment are what summer movies are for, right?  The players, led by Lucas, just never seem that inspired to me, although they do a great job of swimming under major duress.  Their actual acting is generally weak, save for Richard Dreyfuss as a gay politician or business or something, because he is faced with one of the more difficult moments in the film, when he is trying to cross an elevator shaft with or without a fellow passenger.

As expected, the effects work is great; also, Petersen (who has to be considered the King of the Sea after directing "The Perfect Storm" and "Das Boot") does do decent work in building some tension during action sequences as he continually puts his actors in perilous situations.  I also give a lot of credit to the production team for not trying to make "Poseidon" more than it is; in a film like this, there should be almost no introduction to the action and there should be very light pre-disaster activity; about 10 minutes into "Poseidon", the ship flips over.  It also wisely just ends, as opposed to drawing that out, too.  But, a major change from the previous film (I have no idea which is more loyal to the novel's ending) is the choice of which characters do and don't make it of the big things about "The Poseidon Adventure" was who made it out alive, and that effect is lost in the current version of this story.

I thought this was going to be a lot worse, but instead, it's just okay.  Hey, at least there won't be another sequel!

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09