“There’s blood in the water tonight” warns Kevin Dillon early on in this shipshape remake of the 1972 disaster classic The Poseidon Adventure, and he’s not kidding.
It’s New Year’s Eve on the world’s largest cruise liner and everyone is having a cracking time drinking, arguing, and contemplating suicide, until their world is turned upside down – literally - by a gigantic “rogue” wave.
The survivors, a mismatched group including a former fire-fighter (Kurt Russell), professional gambler (Josh Lucas), and obligatory cute kid (Jimmy Bennett), then embark on a death defying quest to find an exit from the upturned and fast-sinking ship.
Director Wolfgang Petersen knows exactly what he’s doing when it comes to big waves (The Perfect Storm) and underwater mayhem (Das Boot), so he was an obvious choice for this surprisingly entertaining big-budget update.
Ignoring the far-from-watertight plot, Petersen focuses on a torrent of fast-paced action sequences in ventilation tunnels, elevator shafts and narrow corridors, and avoids the watered down niceties of most Hollywood blockbusters by butchering major characters right from the off.
A 25-minute “making of” featurette entitled “Poseidon: A Ship On A Soundstage” is the only entry on this woefully sub-standard bonus feature package. While all of the major players pop up for a quick chat, the majority of the running time is taken up with pointless comparisons between the 1972 original and Petersen’s modern day version.
This lack of special features is made all the more galling by the fact that Americans were provided with a splendiferous two-disc version, jam-packed full of goodies. Fans eager for more will have to wait for the inevitable special edition DVD release some time next year.
Despite his best efforts (there is 20 minutes of clunky exposition at the start) the focus on action rather than plot leads to a distinct lack of characterisation, and there are some distracting plot holes (e.g., Richard Dreyfuss’ eel-like underwater swimming skills) that threaten to sink “Poseidon” well before the finale reel.
An ill-advised “Bruce Willis in Armageddon” moment late on is also liable to leave some viewers feeling decidedly sea-sick.
Staring: Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, Kevin Dillon, Jacinda Barrett, Emmy Rossum, Jimmy Bennett, Mike Vogel, Mia Maestro
Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen
Extras: “Making of” featurette