‘Poseidon’ provides plenty of action in remake of disaster flick | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Poseidon’ provides plenty of action in remake of disaster flick

In this photo provided by Warner Bros. Pictures, a luxury ocean liner capsizes from a colossal tidal wave, leaving its survivors to fend for themselves as they find a way out in 'Poseidon.' (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures/Claudette Barius)

Oh, sure, there are times when your world has been turned upside down, but that was usually on dry land. Try facing life’s obstacles from inside an aquarium looking out!

First off, dare I say I haven’t felt this claustrophobic since Bruce Willis crawled through that air duct in “Die Hard” saying, “Now I know what a TV dinner feels like.” There are times during “Poseidon” when you feel so helpless and confined you want to leave the theater just to breathe.

Director Wolfgang Petersen knows a few things about being on the ocean and confined to a limited space. Without question he was the only director to pull this aquatic remake off. Some of his most memorable movies have been surrounded by water. He directed Mark Wahlberg and George Clooney in the true-life story of doomed fishermen in “The Perfect Storm” with amazing effects.

As an avid fan of submarine movies, no one beats his epic German classic, “Das Boot,” which so encapsulated the effect of being in tight quarters, coupled with the horror of war rolled into one incredible movie, that it had me siding with the German U-Boat characters in this scenario. If you do see “Das Boot,” do not get the English dubbed version, but opt for the original German.

It’s Petersen’s attention to detail that makes his films worth watching. He wanted no CGI effects in “Poseidon” when it came to the acting, which meant that many of his actors (including the principle players) had to perform their own stunts. There were a few injuries on the way, including Josh Lucas, who injured himself during the filming. Richard Dreyfuss said that this was the most difficult movie he ever made. It shows, though, in the final cut, and I’m sure after they healed, they were satisfied with the jobs they did.

The movie scores big points in the action department because it spends more time on the catastrophic peril of the ship rather than the drama from the characters’ personal lives. That’s because Petersen pretty much tossed out the old script and injected an entirely new version from screenwriter Mark Protosevich with much better results.

As in the original 1972 movie, “The Poseidon Adventure,” a giant wall of a wave strikes a luxurious cruise ship, knocking it upside down. It was that original flick that launched a series of disaster movies, but now with the technology at its zenith, it makes sense that Hollywood would remake some of these movies to upgrade the reality (in Hollywood’s vision) with more chilling effects. I must admit, though, I do miss the queen of the disaster theme, Maureen McGovern, singing “Morning After” from the original.

Kurt Russell plays former mayor of New York Robert Ramsey. And if that wasn’t glamorous enough, he was also a firefighter, so guess who has the smarts and experience to lead the survivors out through the hull. With him is daughter Jennifer (Emmy Rossum) and her boyfriend, Christian (Mike Vogel), which adds to the disaster mix at times. Dreyfuss, who knows a thing or two about being on boats surrounded by sharks, gets to play a role that is different from any other he has experienced, and even though it was a demanding one, he seemed to relish being in his first big budgeted project in years. The other actors that occupy “Poseidon” are not big names, but you’ll recognize many of them from TV, including Mia Maestro (“Alias”), Andre Braugher as Captain Bradford (“Homicide”), Freddy Rodriguez (HBO’s “Six Feet Under”) and Kevin Dillon (from HBO’s “Entourage”). Funny how Dillon’s character resembles the one he plays on HBO.

As far as remakes go, this was pretty good. I mean, it has all the elements needed for a summer blockbuster hit. Pure escapism for one, and seeing something that can only truly be appreciated on the big screen for another. The majority of the cast is soaked as they clamor to find their way to the top – er, bottom – of the ship and, unlike Shelley Winters from the original movie, actresses Jacinda Barrett, Emmy Rossum and Mia Maestro all look pretty attractive when they’re immersed in the frigid cold. Hello.

– Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv comedy club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout northern California and Nevada, including the Sirius Radio Network every Sunday evening. He hosts “Howie’s Morning Rush” on Tahoe’s KRLT radio and you can see his film reviews every Friday morning on KOLO ABC TV Channel 8.

Keepin’ it Reel

Now playing: “Poseidon”

Starring: Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, Jacinda Barrett, Richard Dreyfuss, Jimmy Bennett, Emmy Rossum, Mike Vogel, Mía Maestro, Andre Braugher, Kevin Dillon, Freddy Rodríguez, Kirk B.R. Woller, Kelly McNair, Stacy Ferguson, Gabriel Jarret, David Reivers, Gordon Thomson, Jan Munroe, Caroline Lagerfelt, Jesse Henecke, Valerie Azlynn, Carrie Frymer, Kimberly Patterson, David Dittmer, Andy Deal, Rachel Vanderwoude and Beverly Overstreet

Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen

Rated: PG-13 for intense prolonged sequences of disaster and peril

Length: 100 minutes (which is a first for Petersen, given the length of some of his past projects)

Howie gives it: 3.5 out of 5 bagels

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