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Wolfgang Petersen
Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss, Jacinda Barrett, Emmy Rossum, Mike Vogel, Mía Maestro, Jimmy Bennett, Andre Braugher
Writing Credits:
Mark Protosevich, Paul Gallico (novel)


While ringing in the New Year aboard the cruise ship Poseidon, a giant wave crashes into the ship and flips it upside down. A ragtag group of survivors realize their only chance is to make their way to the deepest bowels of the ship, now at the top, if they are going to have any chance of getting out.

Box Office:
$160 million.
Opening Weekend
$22.155 million on 3555 screens.
Domestic Gross
$60.418 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 8/22/2006

Disc One
• “Poseidon: A Ship on a Soundstage” Featurette
• Trailer
Disc Two
• “Poseidon: Upside-Down” Featurette
• “A Shipmate’s Diary” Featurette
• “Rogue Waves” History Channel Documentary


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Poseidon: Special Edition (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 8, 2006)

Movie buffs always assume that remakes will be inferior to the originals. I don’t think it’s that simple, though, and can see opportunities for improvements. I’ve liked a lot of the horror film reworkings we’ve gotten in recent years, and I think the old Seventies disaster flicks are ripe for new renditions. I’d love to see a fresh take on 1974’s Towering Inferno and eagerly greeted Poseidon, the 2006 remake of 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure.

Both flicks follow similar storylines. The movie tracks the journey of the SS Poseidon, on its way to New York. During this New Year’s voyage, we get to know some of the passengers. Young adult Jennifer Ramsey (Emmy Rossum) dates Christian (Mike Vogel), though her dad Robert (Kurt Russell) – a former mayor of New York – doesn’t really approve of their relationship. Stowaway Elena (Mia Maestro) seeks passage to the States to visit her sick brother. Loner Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas) apparently works as a professional scoundrel, and that attracts the attention of sexy single MILF Maggie James (Jacinda Barrett). She takes the voyage with her young son Conor (Jimmy Bennett). Finally, Nelson (Richard Dreyfuss) gets jilted by his long-time boyfriend and seeks to kill himself.

After these moments of exposition, disaster strikes. A “rogue wave” capsizes the Poseidon. This sets the survivors on a quest to survive, and the film concentrates on the characters described previously.

Since I don’t think Adventure is any sort of classic, Poseidon had a lot of room to improve on it. Unfortunately, it suffers from many of the earlier flick’s flaws but presents few areas that work better.

Usually fans complain that movies run too long. In this case, however, some extra minutes might have made Poseidon more involving. It zips through its initial exposition so quickly that we get very little feel for the characters. They seem awfully sketchy, so we maintain absolutely no investment in them when disaster strikes. At that point, we know little about them other than their names, and the ensuring dribs and drabs of character definition don’t help.

This means we’re more likely to think of them by the actors’ names and not the characters’ since we barely have even heard the latter. I don’t think we learn Robert’s name until almost halfway through the story! This seems like an odd choice. Yeah, I know audiences don’t maintain the same attention spans they had in 1972, but some character detail would be nice.

Everyone here seems interchangeable, especially the women. All three of the female leads look a lot alike, and the movie gives us little reason to differentiate among them. You’ll constantly forget which one is which, and you probably won’t care.

Because of this, Poseidon lives and dies with its action sequences. Unfortunately, these don’t work particularly well due to the absence of character definition. There’s only so much drama these scenes can evoke because we don’t know – or care about – the various personalities. Simple spectacle works to some degree, but the different segments leave me oddly disinterested.

I mean, I grew up on big disaster flicks like this and always loved them. I should really dig into the blasts and explosions of Poseidon, but the film gets so hung up on technical bravado that it fails to offer anything else. Heck, it even steals one of its big attempts at emotion from Armageddon. Expect lots of CG sparkle but no heart, drama or excitement.

Footnote: if you’re curious about which characters parallel those in the 1972 Adventure, it’s pretty easy. Dylan is obviously Reverend Scott, while Robert takes over for Rogo. Nelson is an uncloseted Mr. Martin, and Elena fills in for Nonnie. Maggie becomes an older, non-jailbait Susan, and her son Conor takes over for Susan’s brother Eric. Waiter Valentin (Freddy Rodriguez) subs for Acres. This means we get no substitutes for the Rosens or Rogo’s wife, and the original includes no parallels for Poseidon’s Jennifer or Christian.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio A/ Bonus C+

Poseidon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though parts of the film looked terrific, too much inconsistency occurred.

Most of the problems related to definition. While I saw no signs of edge enhancement, I thought too many wide shots came across as a bit soft and indistinct. That didn’t happen constantly, as some broad images appeared pretty concise, and closer shots always offered nice sharpness. Unfortunately, the picture simply became a little too loose for my liking. Jagged edges and shimmering created no problems, and source flaws seemed absent.

Colors worked fine. Given the prevalence of dark interiors, the film didn’t get many chances to shine in this area, but it always created accurate, acceptably bright tones. Blacks were fairly deep and firm, but shadows could seem a little murky. Some low-light shots tended to be less dynamic than I’d prefer. Again, there was enough good quality here to make the movie more than watchable, but don’t expect a scintillating visual experience.

On the other hand, Poseidon offered the kind of Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that sells home theaters. I anticipated a terrific soundfield and that’s what I got. With all the explosions, water and other dynamic elements, the mix occupied my ears with tons of good material. The initial assault of the wave presented a sequence destined to demo many a system, as it used all five speakers to great advantage. I won’t directly specify the other standout moments since they’d reveal too much about the plot, but suffice it say that every speaker in your array will get an active workout from this broad, involving mix.

The track backed up the strong soundfield with excellent audio quality. Speech always remained intelligible and concise, and I noticed no edginess or other problems. Music was bright and full. The score played a backup role given the dominance of the effects, but the music showed good definition.

And how about those effects? They filled out the movie well. At all times they were accurate and vivid. No distortion or other concerns appeared, and bass response was amazing. Lots of deep, rich low-end occupied the mix and added a real kick to the proceedings. This was one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in quite some time.

When we head to the extras found on this two-disc set, DVD One presents a trailer along with a featurette called Poseidon: A Ship on a Soundstage. This 22-minute and 37-second show mixed movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from director Wolfgang Petersen, producers Mike Fleiss, Akiva Goldsman and Duncan Henderson, Gallico estate representative Jon Brown. NOAA meteorologist Mark Jackson, writer Mark Protosevich, associate producer Barbara Huber, co-produce Todd Arnow, visual effects supervisor Boyd Shermis, 2nd unit DP Mark Vargo, 1st unit stunt coordinator Allen Robinson, 2nd unit director Doug Coleman, director of photography John Seale, 2nd AD Basil Bryant Grillo, key makeup artist Gregory C. Funk, costume supervisor Bob Morgan, costumer John Voght, dyer Steven Porch, ILM visual effects supervisor Kim Libreri, special effects supervisor John R. Frazier, and actors Kurt Russell, Emmy Rossum, Jacinda Barrett, Kevin Dillon, Mike Vogel, Mia Maestro, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss and Jimmy Bennett.

“Ship” looks at the adaptation of the original story and film and where this one fits in Petersen’s résumé. We hear about factual elements of the tale, the decision not to shoot on a real ship and the use of visual effects for the boat and other elements. We also learn about the use of real sets, filming in continuity, stunts, cinematography, Petersen’s ability to work on a large-scale project such as this, costumes and makeup, and dealing with all the water on the set.

Should you expect to learn a ton about Poseidon here? No, but you’ll get a program that seems more satisfying than the average promotional featurette. “Ship” gives us a reasonable overview of the various filmmaking elements. Though it doesn’t come across as fulfilling, it’s a decent teaser.

Moving to DVD Two, we open with Poseidon: Upside Down. The 10-minute and 40-second featurette includes statements from Petersen, Russell, Lucas, Dreyfuss, Henderson, Grillo, Arnow, Barrett, Frazier, illustrator Daren R. Dochterman, set decorator Robert Gould, production designer William Sandell, art director Bradford Ricker, set designer Kevin Loo, assistant art director Luke Freeborn, construction coordinator Gary Deaton, location manager Michael John Meehan, and property master CJ Maguire.

“Down” looks at the design and creation of the titular ship. We learn a little more about why the film never uses a real boat, and we then get into the elements of the movie’s Poseidon such as challenges related to the sets and their construction. As with the first featurette, “Down” offers some good moments, but it’s too quick and superficial to go as far as I’d like. We get a decent glimpse of ship-related issues and that’s about it.

A Shipmate’s Diary goes for 12 minutes and 18 seconds. As implied by its title, “Diary” consists mainly of behind the scenes footage. We follow Petersen’s assistant Malona P. Voight as she leads us around the set. We also hear from Seale, Sandell, Frazier, Coleman, Lucas, Russell, Dreyfuss, Petersen, Henderson, and various cast and crew members such as makeup department head Edouard F. Henriques III, video and graphics supervisor Dean Striepeke, lighting programmer Scott Barnes, set PA Ryan Bonner, dummy wrangler Dirk Rogers, driver Dester Stowers, assistant production coordinator Michael Steinbach, staff assistant Sean Dennehy, extras Andy Deal, Rachel Vander Woude, Bob Buckingham, Adam Jones, Jesse Henecke, and Anthony Konopski, 2nd unit stunt coordinator Rick Avery, cablecam inventor Jim Rodnunsky, 2nd unit production manager RJ Mino, craft service’s Nick Mestrandrea, editor Peter Honess, supervising sound editor Wylie Stateman, and actor Stacy Ferguson.

“Diary” doesn’t become terribly in-depth, but it manages to spotlight some elements of the production these shows don’t usually address. Those moments allow “Diary” to become reasonably informative and interesting. Voight’s frequent comparisons of Poseidon to student films get old, though.

Finally, DVD Two ends with Rogue Waves. A History Channel documentary, it runs 28 minutes and 35 seconds. “Waves” features remarks from Petersen, historian James Delgado, author Frank Delaney, the University of Miami’s Dr. Brian K. Haus, Professor Susanne Lehner and Professor Hans Graber, Texas A&M at Galveston Professor Vijay Panchang, NOAA officer and scientist Cdr. Mark Pickett, NOAA deputy director Geoffrey Fuller, and GKSS Center’s Dr. Wolfgang Rosenthal.

We get some facts about the concept of rogue waves and look at their damage over the years. We also learn about possible explanations for how these waves develop, how they fit in with mythology, scientific attempts to detect and observe them, and designs to create ships more able to handle the force of the waves. The show also looks at the waves created for Poseidon.

With the imprimatur of the History Channel, you might expect “Waves” to take a serious look at its subject. However, it prefers a hyperbolic take on matters as it throws out soundbites and quick cuts. It also often acts as little more than an ad for Poseidon. Clearly the film’s promotion was the impetus behind this show’s creation and airing. We get a passable summary of the issues created by the waves, but this doesn’t present satisfying science or history.

A thin disaster flick too concerned with effects to involve us, Poseidon comes as a real disappointment. Despite its solid production values, the movie never creates any drama or tension, mostly because we simply couldn’t care less what happens to the sketchy characters. The DVD offers amazing audio but gives us inconsistent picture quality along with mediocre extras. Combine a bad movie with a less than stellar DVD and I can’t recommend this one.

Note that you can buy either this two-disc Special Edition of Poseidon or a single-DVD edition. While this one retails for about $35, the more basic release lists for $29. The cheaper set loses the second platter of extra but still includes DVD One’s featurette. I’d advise purchasers to go with whichever one they find for the least money. The extras on DVD Two are not substantial enough to merit much additional cost.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 44
2 3:
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