Release Date:  May 12, 2006
Rating:  PG-13 (intense prolonged scenes of disaster and peril)
Genre:  Drama, Action/Adventure
Run Time:  99 min.
Director:  Wolfgang Petersen
Cast: Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, Jacinda Barrett, Jimmy Bennett, Emmy Rossum, Mike Vogel, Mia Maestro, Kevin Dillon, Stacy Ferguson

Even though it’s common knowledge that “Poseidon” is a remake of the early-70s film “The Poseidon Adventure,” it’s difficult not to compare this ship-sinking adventure to that other disaster classic which won all the Oscars. Aside from that horrible Celine Dion theme song, of course, there’s a reason that “Titanic” still fares far better – even nine years later. And it’s because you actually care about what happens to Jack, Rose, their arch nemesis, Cal, and even a minor character like the unsinkable Molly Brown.

Unfortunately, one can’t say the same for the main players in “Poseidon” because, well, you never learn much about what makes them tick as the story unfolds. What we do know, however, is that Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas) is a charming professional gambler with an undefined Navy background that ends up coming in rather handy later on. Then there’s Robert Ramsey (Kurt Russell), a former fireman (another helpful coincidence) and New York City mayor with a beautiful, bratty daughter (Emmy Rossum) who’s secretly engaged to Christian (Mike Vogel) but hasn’t bothered to tell Dad yet because Robert hasn’t exactly been supportive of the pairing.

A few minor characters prove to be fairly one-dimensional as well, including Maggie James (Jacinda Barrett), a pretty, dutiful mother to Conor (an adorable Jimmy Bennett) and Richard Nelson (Richard Dreyfuss) who’s nursing a broken heart (and even contemplating suicide) after his lover leaves him.

Then, almost as quickly as these characters are introduced, a mysterious “rogue wave” (gotta hate it when those rogue waves arrive without any warning) swoops in 15 minutes into the film, and everyone’s left wondering whether he/she will live or die as the party comes to an abrupt ending and the boat fills up with water.

Figuring out fairly quickly that an alternate route (rather than the Captain’s orders to remain in the main part of the ship) is going to be necessary for survival, Dylan plots out an escape plan for himself. See, he works better alone … well until he can’t resist the panicky cries of Maggie and Conor. And Robert could probably be of some use, too, since he was a fireman and all, but then he can’t leave his daughter and the love of her life behind. So they join in, along with Richard and Elena (Mia Maestro). And it’s here where the big-budget blockbuster finally begins to get interesting as they get in one nail-biting situation after another.

Sure, some of the scenarios are completely implausible, but if you keep munching on your popcorn and suspend your disbelief, you might actually enjoy it. But eventually when it comes down to that crucial plotline of who lives and dies, sadly, you don’t care that much because you were never that attached to anyone in the first place.

Even with limited material to work with, Lucas turns out to be the real star as a charismatic and capable leading man who transforms from selfish to selfless throughout the course of the movie. Russell also does the best with what he’s got, and Dreyfuss delivers the necessary comic relief just when you think you can’t handle any more flash fires or escape hatches that just won’t open.

But unlike “Titanic,” there’s just not enough of the human-interest element in “Poseidon” to balance out the tragedy, which ultimately makes the film sink even when the boat was still above water.

AUDIENCE: 13 and up

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Several of the ship’s passengers enjoy a few drinks and cigarettes while playing poker.
  • Language/Profanity:  Minimal, aside from four instances where expletives of a religious nature are used
  • Sex/Nudity:  None
  • Violence:  Because of the movie’s disaster-oriented plotline, there’s plenty of potentially troubling scenes that involve gruesome deaths as a result of drowning, fires and a host of other causes as the boat sinks.