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Poseidon Adventure (TV Movie) (2005)

Review: written Nov 2009

Watered down re-make

Poseidon Adventure (TV Movie) (2005)

Here's a great idea - take a much loved classic disaster movie, and make it with a bunch of almost-was and once-was actors, on a TV budget, and draw it out over twice the time. If that seems like logic to you, then you may well love this entirely redundant time filler. On the other hand, with some decent stuntwork on display it certainly could have been a lot worse, with the bangs and shouting drowning out the dodgy acting and leaky plot. There are in fact more holes in the plot than the unfortunate Poseidon has.

Based on the original Paul Gallico novel, many of the characters names are the same, and some key set pieces are the same, paying homage to the original (fiery engine room, Christmas tree ladder, and the famous man falling on to glass in the ballroom..). However, there seems to be a gross misconception of what makes a great disaster movie. Poseidon Adventure was the start of a wave (sorry) of likeminded movies, which thrived on creating big budget set pieces, but with a background of memorable characters. Who can forget Gene Hackman's preacher, or Shelley Winter's one-time swimming champion..? Well the writers here did - they ditched all the memorable aspects those characters had, and added some entirely redundant ones. Vitally, you soon realise with a sinking feeling that the sense of claustrophobia so brilliantly done in the original is thrown away by a combination of cutting to the outside rescue efforts (terrible idea, in which all suspense is dissipated) and some lightly lit interior sets with a few pools of standing water. The plot is padded out by having a terrorist plot instead of a giant wave, and while this seems more `with the times' it fails to be more than an obvious plot device, adding nothing except running time. The sense of being chased by the water lapping at their heels just never appears, even at the end, so the sense of urgency is, shall we say, diluted.

The actors frankly seem all at sea, none of them really bringing the required oomph to stem the tide of that nagging `when will it end' feeling. Steve Guttenberg gamely tries to steal his scenes by grabbing people along the way and trying to talk about his feelings, but he fails to convince - perhaps he is just in too deep? Rutger Hauer may as well be asleep, or at best on cruise control, for all the charisma he brings to the role. Only Bryan Brown and Adam Baldwin at least seem to be having some fun, even if there are no new ideas being floated and they fail to stem the tide of boredom for much of the movie. Stunts are certainly ok, digital effects are so-so.. I watched on a big screen which was less than forgiving, but that's the reality of made for TV perhaps, where not every effect can be ship-shape.

And then there is the ending - where in the original, we had the terrific speech from Hackman, adding pathos and gravitas to proceedings, here we have an endless scene of the few survivors crossing a catwalk to escape - which frankly, just doesn't look that dangerous. It leaves the end feeling somewhat of a damp squib.

For family friendly fare, well, this is a Hallmark Channel presentation, so it's probably safe (as long as you don't want to explain to the kids exactly what Steve Guttenberg was doing with that masseuse that made his wife so upset..), and does not embarrass itself too much when seen as a 4 hour TV mini-series compared to others of its type.. but for a fresh stab or even a tribute to a much loved classic - why not just get the original, as this one is just too watered down to be memorable in comparison.

Poseidon Adventure (TV Movie) (2005)

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