Thursday, April 27, 2006

Moviewatch: "Poseidon"

Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Fien Print Rating (Out of 100): 55
In a Nutshell: The first think you have to know is that I really really like "The Poseidon Adventure." While the fashions and music and special effects are dated, the performances by the all-star cast mostly haven't dated, nor has the effective suspense direction by Ronald Neame. Compared to that 1972 film, which runs 117 minutes, Wolfgang Petersen's not-remake (the characters are almost all different, as are most of the situations) feels like an effects-heavy trifle. Despite a respectable cast, this new "Poseidon" is devoid of characters or personal stakes and it has a sort of weightlessness that comes from having the dialogue trimmed to nearly nothing. Very little of what happens on screen matters because you don't care who it's happening to, which means you're forced to just watch for the set-pieces, which are acceptable, but never inspired. The giant wave is just a cheesy CGI whoosh, no better or worse than what Petersen whipped out six years ago in "The Perfect Storm" and every excessive pillar of fire is compensating for a loss of tension elsewhere. Several of the main characters die, of course, but their demises really don't compare to the showcase deaths in the original. Of the actors, I liked Richard Dreyfuss, whose character is an amusing mixture of the Shelley Winters and Red Buttons characters. I was also appreciative of Josh Lucas in a way that I'm not sure I have been for a while. With virtually no dialogue for the movie's second half, Lucas charts an interesting arc, the kind of thing that was probably in the script at one point, but got cut to make way for the next fireball. Then again, summer movies are all about the fireballs and gigantic waves, so somebody will probably be happy.

Check on Friday, May 12 for my review.

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