Friday, 8 June 2007

DVD: Poseidon

Lowdown: Noah's ark got tipped over. Again.
With some films you just know they are going to be bad, or even worse, but you still want to watch them. Don't ask me exactly why: one reason could be that you just want to watch something simple and stupid to cleanse the mind with after a bad day at the office, while yet another reason might be that the well oiled marketing machine behind the film did its job so well that while you know the product is going to be bad you still have this need to watch the film anyway. Well, whatever the reason may be, the new incarnation of Poseidon certainly falls into the category of films that are just so bad you know they're bad just by smelling the DVD's box.
The film's crappiness could actually be considered to be a surprise given that this redo work of the Shelley Winters original was made by Wolfgang Petersen. He gained his fame with his rather fascist Das Boot, Airforce One and In the Line of Fire; I do consider them all to be good films, to one extent or another. Yet as Perfect Storm has shown, he is fully capable of creating a bad film, and in Poseidon he sinks to a bottomless pit: the special effects heavy yet totally dumbed down film.
The plot is very simple: A state of the art cruise ship with all the amenities you can imagine and then some is hit by a "rogue wave" which topples it over. A group of people decide they are not waiting and start climbing up to the top (which is the bottom of the boat, since it's upside down). In between they have to tackle all sorts of special effects laden obstacles, and most of them die in the process, until salvation arrives.
So, what is wrong with the film? Let me count briefly. Unlike the original, in here the acting sucks. The plot doesn't make sense. Plausibility simply does not exist. There is no plot to speak about, just a collection of obstacles to tackle. Special effects are the real star of the show. There is no morale or anything, even though it wouldn't be too hard to have one central motif in a film like this. It's all pretty predictable. And probably the worst, with the way the film shows it, certain lives are more important and more valuable than others.
As far as positives go, there are some wow shots in the film. In particular the opening scene, featuring an actor jogging along the deck of the huge ship with the camera panning all over the place. However, in the DVD supplementals we learn the ship only existed on a computer screen and the scene was shot on a blue screen. Overall, I would say Titanic did a much better job in the realism department.
Worst scenes: Pretty much any of a large collection of scenes where the heroes need to dive through an obstacle and end up being under water for 5 minutes, no problems whatsoever.
Or are they the scenes that show the carnage of the sinking boat, with more blood and gore than your Private Ryan meets Letters from Iwo Jima?
Picture quality: Lacking in detail but also lacking in digital artifacts.
Sound quality: A cacophony of sound effects that are well recorded, yet there's nothing special about it all.
Overall: A badly made film that's totally redundant unless you really want to wipe your brain clean. 1.5 stars out of 5.

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