The granddaddy of disaster movies stripped down
That film -- titled, as you may recall, "The Poseidon Adventure" -- invited us to take pleasure in the outlandish spectacle of serious actors swimming through elaborate upside-down sets while spouting ridiculously florid dialogue.
The new "Poseidon," directed by Wolfgang Petersen, strips the title down to its essentials, along with everything else. The characters are even more sketchy then they were the first time around -- plucky ethnic types, young couple in love, mother and child, previously suicidal older fella -- and as far as dialogue goes, well, Andre Braugher strings together a poofy speech about the gods of the sea in an early New Year's toast, but after that it's just a lot of shouting and screaming.
Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss and half a dozen others move with urgency and look appropriately soggy, but Petersen never allows them the essential breathing room between crises that would let them become people, rather than overpaid stunt players.
The special effects, though, are constant and impressive, and the production design is at least as exacting as the first film's, although perhaps Petersen's insistence on showing us all the fresh corpses that would be scattered throughout the overturned ship is a flourish of realism the movie doesn't exactly beg, particularly since Russell's firefighter-turned-politician seems an awful lot like an idealized version of 9/11 icon Rudy Giuliani.
This isn't to imply that "Poseidon" Mark II isn't a well-made or occasionally thrilling picture ... just that there's a grimness and economy at work that seems contrary to its purpose as an entertainment.
Warner is releasing two different "Poseidon" DVDs. (Well, three, if you count the full-frame edition, but we really try not to.)
A single-disc edition pairs the feature with "Poseidon: A Ship on a Soundstage: The Complexities of Making a Modern Adventure Movie," which is exactly what it sounds like, but more interesting.
Meanwhile, the double-disc edition throws in two more behind-the-scenes featurettes and a History Channel documentary about rogue waves in the real world. Turns out luxury liners aren't really in a lot of danger these days, but the waves can still be pretty scary.
STUDIO:Warner Home Video
RELEASE DATE:August 22nd
PRICE: $28.98 (standard edition) / $34.98 (deluxe edition)
TIME: 99 minutes
DVD EXTRAS:French and Spanish audio dubs; English, French and Spanish subtitles; production featurette. Special edition includes documentary and additional featurettes.