Sunday, October 08, 2006

Poseidon (2006)

36Whenever Hollywood decides to remake a film already regarded as a classic the inevitable response is 'Why?!', followed by a general critical mauling in the press. Poseidon, a remake of 1972's The Poseidon Adventure, is no different, as evidenced by the appallingly low 'Rotten Tomatoes' critics rating shown on the left.

Sometimes though we see the past through rose-tinted spectacles and, having watched the new 'special edition' of that original movie, released here a month or so ago, it has to be said the original film hasn't stood the test of time as well as one would hope. The characters are paper, shouty stereotypes that will have you wanting to rip your own fingernails out before the film's less than half way through its running time, and the whole thing is far more campy and cheesy than a film referred to with such reverence, deserves to be.

The problem with this newer version is that, despite director Wolfgang Petersen's claims to the contrary in the accompanying featurette, this is really a pretty redundant carbon copy of the original. If you can deal with it on that level you're in for a fairly enjoyable ride, although the deaths seem more brutal this time around and leave a rather nastier taste in the mouth as a result. Subtlety has never been Petersen's strongpoint, as evidenced by the director's previous effort, the execrable Troy.

The doomed characters aren't quite as annoying as most of the original 'shouty' one-dimensional cast of the 1972 version were, but against that neither Kurt Russell nor Josh Lucas deliver anything like the strong performances Gene Hackman and Shelley Winters gave in the original. The real stars here are the special effects - and the water - and the effects have been very much updated, with that ridiculously large budget all pretty much evident on screen. Water is very much Petersen's medium of course, having previously made Das Boot and The Perfect Storm.

The new film, clocking in at just over 90 minutes, is shorter than the original, but felt just as long somehow, even though the pace never felt sluggish. If you're looking for strong character development and a great story this isn't for you. If you're looking for pretty brainless, but well executed eye candy hokum on a Saturday night the film's well worth a look.

The picture transfer is good, with excellent use of surround sound, as one would expect from a bug-budget disaster movie like this. Extra's wise, there's just a single 22 minute featurette and a trailer, although the featurette is not the usual marketing fluff and gives some interesting behind-the-scenes interviews and explanations of how the effects were achieved. With not much else out this week you could do worse than pick up a copy of this, particularly if you like to see special effects done the way only very big budget Hollywood movies can do them.

No comments: