THUMBS DOWN FILM REVIEW RATING!
When word that Wolfgang Petersen — director of such fantastic films as DAS BOOT, ENEMY MINE, and THE PERFECT STORM — was slated to direct the remake of THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (now shortened to simply POSEIDON), the sizzling hype around Hollywood was immediately palpable. Production costs for the heavily CGI-laden film skyrocketed to $160 million, making it one of the most costly films of 2005 (released in 2006).
Adding to the costs was an ensemble cast starring Josh Lucas (GLORY ROAD), Kurt Russell (SKY HIGH), Richard Dreyfuss (MR. HOLLAND’S OPUS), Emmy Rossum (THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, 2004), Freddy Rodriguez (LADY IN THE WATER), and Kevin Dillon (24 TV Series).
Now The Poseidon Adventure (1972) wasn’t that great a film to begin with, but what it did have was a catchy tune created by Maureen McGovern but sang (lip-synched?) by Carol Lynley ("The Morning After"), and a great human story surrounded by a terrible event: the capsizing of a cruise ship. Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Roddy McDowall, Shelley Winters, and Jack Albertson rounded out that all-star cast. And although the production was a bit cheesy by today’s standards, it held at its center a tale of human determination and sacrifice. This was the focus. The destruction of the ship was just the catalyst, not the focal point. Which is where Wolfgang’s remake encounters significant problems.
The character set-up in Poseidon is rushed, never giving the audience a sense of empathy or angst for any of the people onboard. More film time is given to the CGI water, fires, explosions, and other non-character items. Many times during the film we are yanked away from the characters in order to watch yet another explosion happen somewhere on the ship, then we’re jerked back to the characters who don’t really respond to it. So what was the purpose of showing the movie-watcher these things? The simple answer is because it was CGI, it was cool, it cost money, so you have to show it in order to justify your budgetary expenses.
Since we’re given so little time to understand or appreciate the characters’ interactions with one another, when one of them dies there’s no impact for the viewer. Most will probably say, "So what" when this person or that gets snuffed out by the expensive CGI water, fire, or explosion.
Hollywood needs to learn that it’s the people in the film audiences care about, not the "totally awesome" special effects. Sure, directors/producers can put the CGI in there and make it look nice, but it has to have an impact on the characters.