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It is New Year's Eve, and over 2,000 passengers & crew are ringing in the New Year aboard the huge cruise ship 'Poseidon' when it capsizes on the open sea in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean! A small group of survivors find themselves unlikely allies in a battle for their lives. Preferring to test the odds alone, career gambler Dylan Johns ignores captain's orders to wait below for possible rescue and sets out to find his own way to safety. What begins as a solo mission soon draws others, as Dylan is followed by a desperate father searching for his daughter and her fiancée--a young couple who hours before couldn't summon the courage to tell him they were engaged and now face much graver challenges. Along the way they are joined by a single mother and her wise-beyond-his-years son, an anxious stowaway and a despondent fellow passenger who boarded the ship not sure he wanted to live but now knows he doesn't want to die. Determined to fight their way to the surface, the group sets ... Written by
Anthony Pereyra (hypersonic91yahoo.com)
Paul Gallico's novel, published in 1969, is not so much a disaster novel, as it is a grim character study of people caught up in a disaster. The book is gripping in it's savage brutality. The character's are stripped of all pretensions, and self delusions. They reveal more and more of their inner selves as they climbed further and further into the ship.
The 1972 film only hinted at this. The Hallmark TV film, only had conventional characters who reacted in conventional and unsurprising ways to the various challenges.
Now, Wolfgang Peterson has stripped the story of all humanity and created what amounts to a two hour film in which the audience watches a very large kinetic sculpture designed to destroy itself. The actors seem to be more like cogs and wheels in that sculpture than human beings. There is no character development and no plot.
Yes, the special effects are fantastic, especially as the wave strikes and capsizes the ship. The sets are stunning but sterile, and the action is absolutely nonstop. And THAT is all the film has going for it. Peterson seems to be catering to those with minds only developed enough to pay attention to movement and pretty lights, like a small baby watching a mobile hung over its crib.
Many of the actors are quite good. We know that because of their past bodies of work. Unfortunately, in this film they may as well have had animated wax figures playing their roles. True, the Irwin Allen film had a number of overblown and hammy performances, but those actors at least had something to bite into. A lobotomized Frances Farmer would have been able to handle these empty insignificant characters.
In interviews, Richard Dreyfuss commented that he did this film for money. I certainly understand that! He definitely didn't do it because it was a great part. He played a gay man, suicidal and depressed because his lover has left him. Unfortunately his being gay seemed rather gratuitous. Publicity for the film stated that he suddenly discovers he very much wants to live. This also seemed gratuitous.
Kurt Russell plays the role of a former NYC firefighter and mayor and seems to have fallen into the real life role of aging action hero making way for younger action hero.
Kevin Dylan plays a character named Lucky Larry, who seemed obviously patterned after computer game icon Leisure Suit Larry. His character would have been quite enjoyable had he not been so reprehensible.
As far as the rest of the cast went, you may as well have taken them like so many Barbie and Ken dolls, popped off their heads and interchanged them.
The costumes were pretty much what you might expect to see aboard ship on New Year's Eve, but nothing strikingly great. The only one that stood out was the singer (who I understand is a member of The Black-eyed Peas). It was so awful, I mistook her for a Charo impersonator. But at least it stood out.
One thing I must give the filmmakers an A+ on. The underwater shots of the ship were extraordinarily impressive. The attention to detail with all the debris and parts of the ship breaking away seemed very realistic. I do have a final question, however (and a nit-picky one at that). Do they no longer bolt down tables and other large furniture aboard luxury liners?
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