Friday, May 12, 2006

Poseidon (2006)

by Reymundo Salao

A massive cruise ship in high seas is struck by a freak tidal wave which sends the ship to tumble upside down. And as the ship continues to sink and is gradually being destroyed, a number of survivors decide to struggle their way through complicated labyrinth-like passageways in order to survive and find a way to get off the ship.

POSEIDON is the remake of the 1972 classic POSEIDON ADVENTURE. I usually find disaster movies boring. I also thought that this remake was needless, considering how good the original version was. And Wolfgang Petersen's last big movie "Troy" failed miserably to amuse me. But thank God for the money and the time that I spent for this movie, I was wrong. Wolfgang Petersen's POSEIDON is teeth-gritting big bag of explosive and massively destructive suspense. Like most disaster movies, POSEIDON carries with it a depressing factor. Understandably, the kind of carnage involved in a disaster movie is totally different from the kind of carnage we see in films like Godzilla, for example. But the degree of drama and dangerous tension is radiant in this film that you actually feel the characters' sense of futility and their relentless effort to survive.

Sure, Wolfgang Petersen may already be master of sea tragedies, having helmed films like DAS BOOT and THE PERFECT STORM. This film is definitely an addition to his line-up of sea-travel thrillers. And indeed, he delivers the thrill and the fear of sea-disasters, perhaps to a point that I may say that this is the kind of movie that may give people a phobia for sea-travel.

the movie does not dilly dally on needless introductory drama, its characters are simple enough that it needs not delve into the layers to understand who or what each character is. the story goes headlong into the disaster itself and into the horrendous experience that the characters go through. As the story progresses, only then do we get a deeper understanding of who each character is. The action sequences that involve an obstacle to survive or to escape from are breath-gripping suspenseful. There were moments when you would hold your breath along with the characters of this movie.

Josh Lucas plays an excellent leading man/hero. My guess is that this movie may pave the way for him to be the new regular action-adventure hero actor for more blockbusters to come. Richard Dreyfuss may have had a long standing reputation in cinema, having worked in many great films, but on this film, he humbles by playing a smaller slice of the lead role compared to many of his works. Kurt Russell, Emma Rossum, Mike Vogel, Jacinda Barrett and Jimmy Bennett's performances were fine on the average level only as far as the storyline permits them. But catching my eye is the performance of a fresh face, Mia Maestro who plays Elena, who delivers a splendid performance as a woman who rode this ship in order to travel to New York and visit her brother who was admitted in a New York hospital.

The only problem with POSEIDON is its simplicity and the cliché brand that it obviously carries with it. The original POSEIDON ADVENTURE was phenomenal during its time that movies of the same theme copied its style endlessly, so much so that it has become a standard cliché. One which this remake is branded with. From sequence progression, to pacing, to character variation, these movies seem to have a ready-made template for the film-makers to fill. In a malicious-thinking point of view, the "homage to the original movie" seemed to be an excuse to execute the clichés. But dissection of the movie aside, the film does connect with the audience in terms of drama, tension, and thrills, whether it is a cliché or not. Thankfully, the execution of the storyline lets you forget this flaw. After all, films are made to be enjoyed, and not be dissected.

No comments: