Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
99 Minutes

Review of Poseidon

A "rogue" wave comes out of nowhere to capsize a large cruise ship, sending the passengers willy-nilly into survival mode.

Strike that – actually, only a handful of passengers, inspired by ex-submariner and poker player Dylan Johns [Josh Lucas], begin the difficult trip to find an exit from the upside down ship. The other passengers are bottled up in an "air bubble" in the grand ballroom of the boat, milling about blankly in ruined party clothes, where the ships captain [Andre Braugher] is convinced they are safe and can await inevitable rescue.

Like the film The Day After Tomorrow, its quite obvious that the mass of passengers who follow this advice are doomed, like the mass of survivors who elect to leave New York City on foot with the advent of a superblizzard coming. Both groups from both films are warned by the erstwhile heroes of the folly of their respective plans, and of course each group meets disaster as predicted.

After seeing a few "disaster movies," predictability is a unintended feature of the genre. The audience knows what is coming (for that is the selling point of the movie) but it is how the story is told, and of the suspense of seeing the characters matched against the dangerous circumstances that make these kind of movies work (or not).

Quite good special effects show the spiral of worsening conditions onscreen. The characters are sketched out quickly, and from there do not develop with any story or history, but struggle onward to their various fates. Kurt Russell is an ex-fireman (rather handy) and ex-Mayor of New York named Robert Ramsey, and Richard Dreyfuss is Richard Nelson, a corporate type who is mulling over a broken love affair on New Year's Eve and is about to leap overboard when the killer wave comes into his view. There is a certain humor to Dreyfuss' character (though its certainly not played that way) thinking better of suicide and dashing for the interior of the boat. The subsequent situations are full of tension though many of them seem like video game scenarios, and if a viewer has any heightened fears about drowning, this would be a disturbing film for them to watch.

But on the whole the characters onscreen rise to the occasion, with only a claustrophobic scene in which a stowaway [played by Mia Maestro] scarily impedes some of the other passengers behind her as water rises up a conveniently located air vent they are using as escape. Her temporary panic is pathetic and never reaches any stage of real derangement. In fact, except for the several passengers from our group appointed to die in the course of this 99-minute journey, there is no threat they do not get around by just simply thinking it through. The human brain is a wonderful thing and I appreciate the tribute to its cleverness that is this movie, but I would have expected emotion to play a better part for good or ill. These passengers cooperate together beautifully, which seems unreal, except for poker player Lucky Larry [played by Kevin Dillon] who is so obnoxious and abrasive one wonders if the "rogue" wave was dispatched specifically to get him.

Poseidon Box Office and DVD Sales Numbers

Poseidon had an approximate production budget of $150 million. Tickets sales (as listed at Wikipedia) were domestic USA $60,674,817 and $121,000,000 in all other markets, with a total return of $181,674,817. reports DVD sales for Poseidon as 1,183,187 units, for $19,614,680 in sales.

Box Office Mojo lists Poseidon as the 49th largest box office draw of 2006, Warner Bros pulling in $60,674,817 domestic from 3,555 theatres.

Original Page September 2008

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