What’s Old is New Again

Main Cast: Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss, Mia Maestro

Director: Wolfgang Petersen

Plot Summary: While on a New Year’s Eve celebratory voyage the passenger ship Poseidon is hit by a “rogue wave” and turned completely over. A small group of passengers and crew band together and fight their way to the bottom (now top) of the ship to an exit and safety.

PoseidonJust to be thorough, I watched the old ’72 flick The Poseidon Adventure before seeing this one. It’s interesting how much has changed, yet some things remain the same. For one, the “disaster film era” is gone. Holding through the 1970s and early 1980s, these films played on the fears and anxieties of the society in the United States at the time. Even with the “War on Terror” I believe we, as a whole, have less fear than twenty to thirty years ago. More popular now are the slasher films, where any number of lovely and handsome young college students are chopped up or otherwise sent to gruesome ends by a madman. Both genres share a few common themes, however. We have a group of people, made up by many different personalities, trapped in a confined place. They must fight among themselves and against either a) nature or b) another human in order to escape.

In the case of Poseidon, we have a mixture of the old and young, trapped in an upside-down ship which is slowly sinking. They must fight against water, fires, and falling debris in order to get to an exit. In the ’72 version, the leader was a priest who was suffering a crisis of faith. He saw the various deaths of the others as a personal attack from God, why I can’t answer. Overall the ’72 version was more serious, at least when it came to plot. In this version the lead is split into two strong men: a young gambler who, at first, only wishes to go alone, and an older fire-fighter and former mayor. They don’t fight as much as the priest and a police officer in the ’72 version, but there are times where the group is frayed and various options (paths) are weighed.

The new version does a much better job in the special effects, naturally enough. You get a sense of a real ship turning over, with much more realistic deaths shown. In both cases we have the bulk of survivors staying put in the ballroom under the care of the remaining crew, which turns out to be a bad move. In both cases we have a swimming sequence that ends in one of the characters dying. There is much more swimming underwater in the new version (probably because of more money), and generally the sets are better.

But, in the end, both are disaster flicks and must be viewed as such. The plot doesn’t much matter. we just want to see the order in which the characters will come to an end, and hope it’s an interesting one. We go for the special effects: explosions, fires, and other mayhem. Shakespeare this ain’t. And, for what it is, it does well. I can recommend it as an amusing few hours.

Related posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Get Netflix Dates emailed free to you every week