Tonight I went with Mac to see Poseidon. Yes, on purpose.
The reviews will tell you this movie is bad, and the reviews will be correct. It’s really tough to recommend; we had fun watching it, but we had to put a lot of effort into it. I think even if I were Joel Siegel and I were desperate to come up with quotable blurbs to put on the poster, the best I’d be able to come up with would be “Guaranteed to make you have to pee!”
It was pretty clear it was going to be bad as soon as the opening shot started. It was a long fly-over of the boat that didn’t look like an ad for a cruise ship line as much as an ad for a piece of open-source CGI rendering software. Set against a sunset straight out of one of those inspirational “Footsteps in the Sand” posters.
I think the whole point of the scene was to introduce us to our hero, who is not Matthew McConaughey. Dude likes to run, and he had some type of previous career involving the Navy. That’s about all the character background we get for him, but that’s all right because that’s pretty much all the character background we get for anybody. The movie’s got an assload of dead bodies throughout, meant I guess to imply how horrible a disaster the Rogue Wave caused but without having to go into a lot of exposition as to who these people are. But you don’t really care much more about the main characters than you care about Random Immolation Victim #38.
There’s the ex-Mayor of New York who loves his daughter, the daughter who needs to prove to Daddy that she’s a grown woman, the boyfriend who’s there, sleazy greasy gambler Lucky Larry, a waiter, a captain who’s clearly slumming after “Homicide” got cancelled, and a woman who has a kid.
Fergie from the Black-Eyed Peas is in the movie. Ironically, she’s the only actor in the main credits who remains dry throughout the entire film. When I’d heard she was in it, I was hoping there’d be a dramatic scene where everybody’s standing hip-deep in water and they say, “Wait… did it just suddenly get warmer?” And then the camera pans over to Fergie and she shrugs and there’s the sound of tinkling bells and a slide trombone.
Richard Dreyfuss goes against type and plays a mopey, fussy, annoying old gay architect. I couldn’t tell if he was acting so prissy because they wanted to play up that he was old, or because they wanted to play up that he was gay, or because he’s Richard Dreyfuss. Mac pointed out that he exclaims “oy vey!” at one point, and also calls the waiter guy “gorgeous,” so I’m guessing his role in the movie was to combine Shelley Winters’ and Red Buttons’ characters from the original into one show-stopping performance.
Nadia from “Alias” is also in the movie, playing the Catholic claustrophobic Elena who’s Catholic. Also, she’s Catholic. This is crucial, because her crucifix is the only thing the movie has that resembles a plot point. In case you were in danger of forgetting that she’s Catholic, they make sure to show her making the Sign of the Cross every 30 seconds. This was clever re-enforcement of the idea (to wit: she’s Catholic), otherwise audiences would be completely bewildered at the sight of a Hispanic woman wearing a crucifix. On “Alias,” she only appeared for like 20 episodes, and by my calculations, she was impaled by glass shards about 18 times and turned into a zombie. In Poseidon, she isn’t much less clumsy.
I never liked disaster movies, because they always seemed completely pointless. This movie is so pointless and inessential it makes the original seem profound. I kept hoping for some sign of cleverness or suspense, or even irony, but the people making the movie just wouldn’t meet me halfway. They just really wanted to be faithful to the canon of the original, I guess, and exhaustively document the story of a ship that sinks and almost everybody except a few people dies.
Which reminds me: the death count is disappointingly low. I kept hoping for random shark attacks or electrocutions or getting sucked into jet engines or even ravaged by an unexpected shipment of snakes that break loose from the cargo hold. There’s only two main character deaths that are cool at all, and they’re both telegraphed way in advance and happen too soon and too close to each other. The annoying child character comes tantalizingly close to death about a dozen times, but for whatever reason he shows a Terminator-like knack for surviving.
There’s exactly one sequence in the movie that’s genuinely kind of cool. It’s after crash when Kurt Russell suddenly climbs out of a pile of open-eyed dead bodies, horrifying the mom and her kid. It lasts about 8 seconds. That’s not too good for a movie that’s about 100 minutes long.
But the summer movie season ain’t over yet. Next week: The DaVinci Code. I really want to go to the theater a day early and wait in line, wearing my albino monk costume. Incidentally, every time a big blockbuster movie comes out, there’s always a porn movie with a parody title released soon afterwards. When are they going to come out with The DaVinci Choad?