Although we’ve very much enjoyed the cruises we’ve taken (once, in the Caribbean, around the Bahamas, the other one around the Hawaiian islands), we were happy last night to be celebrating at a resort on land because when we got back to our room, Sean chose Poseidon for its New Year’s Eve setting but this movie might have made us think twice before getting on a boat.
The unsuspecting guests on that boat had just rung in the new year, with Fergie leading them in a countdown to midnight (the Shakira of the sea, we renamed her, since Shakira had played at our sister resort). But then a rogue wave hits, flipping the boat upside down. Of the 5000 or so passengers who must have been on board, most die instantly (and not on film). Mostly just the hundred or so survivors of the ballroom are given any airtime: Fergie of course, and the ship’s captain, Capt. Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher, again!), a degenerate gambler named Lucky Larry (Kevin Dillon, also again!), a suicidal man named Richard (Richard Dreyfuss), Robert, the former mayor of New York (Kurt Russell) and his daughter Jennifer (Emmy Rossum), newly and secretly engaged to Christian (Mike Vogel), a mother and young son, a stowaway, and of course the fearless leader Dylan (Josh Lucas), whose dimples will surely keep them afloat for hours. The ship’s captain is trying to keep everyone calm and contained within the airtight ballroom until help can arrive, but squirrely Dylan is not content to stay put. He leads a small handful of the survivors “up” (which in this case means travelling down into the ship’s bowels since it’s currently bobbing upside down in the ocean). They’re battling flash fires, rising waters, and of course gravity to get out in time.
Like most movies of its ilk, Poseidon (this is the 2006 remake of a 1972 classic) is big on the epic disaster set pieces and meager on story and character. It’s not going to make any logical sense, so leave that in life raft for later. You’re not going to know or really care about the people either. Remove your humanity, wrap it in a personal flotation device, and move on. The movie delivers a bloated sense of claustrophobia and a bad case of Murphy’s law, which impressively follows them right down to the bottom of the ocean. The camera dwells on the dead bodies as we swim by them so if you’re hoping for some campy fun, think again. There are corpses everywhere, and not all of them float. Not unlike this movie, which sinks under its own self-importance.