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The Poseidon Adventure(TV) (2005)
The Poseidon, an ocean liner bigger than the Queen Elizabeth and Mary combined, is charting its course on New Year's Eve when just after midnight a 90' tidal wave hits. It is the last thing that everyone onboard sees before drowning — the Poseidon is turned upside down, with only a handful of survivors. The lucky few take a journey through the bowels of the ship in an attempt to survive.
For more about The Poseidon Adventure and the The Poseidon Adventure Blu-ray release, see the The Poseidon Adventure Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on August 6, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Adam Baldwin, Rutger Hauer, Steve Guttenberg, Bryan Brown, C. Thomas Howell, Peter Weller
Director: John Putch
» See full cast & crew
The Poseidon Adventure Blu-ray Review
This Titanic of a remake sinks without a trace.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, August 6, 2009
With Y2K looming and CGI techniques being quickly refined, the disaster film—which had been largely dormant since its 1970s glory-days—saw a predictable resurgence in the late 1990s. Computers allowed destruction on heretofore-unseen scales, giving us Dante's Peak and Volcano in 1997, followed by Armageddon and Deep Impact only a year later. Since then we've had The Perfect Storm and The Day After Tomorrow, among others, and Roland Emmerich's upcoming 2012 threatens to up the ante with its promise of world-destroying spectacle. The genre got its start, though, with 1970's Airport and 1972's The Poseidon Adventure, and when word came that Wolfgang Petersen would be helming a remake of the latter, NBC and Larry Levenson Productions thought they'd get in on the action with a made-for-TV remake of their own. Riding the tidal wave of hype generated by Petersen's 2006 film, this superfluous television version is just about what you'd expect—a dumb, occasionally fun adventure with TV production quality and a cast of loveable but undeniably c-list has-beens.
Based on a novel by Paul Gallico, the Poseidon story, which concerns a capsized ocean liner and a band of survivors trying to escape, has changed little over its four iterations. This made-for-television adaptation, however, does significantly differ in the manner by which the boat eventually tips. Whereas the other versions rely on a rogue wave, NBC's Poseidon Adventure features a nefarious plot by cookie-cutter terrorists seeking to hit "soft targets" outside the U.S. mainland. Despite preying on post-9/11 fears, no real intrigue is added to the formula by this substitution, and the plot remains largely the same. Adam Baldwin (Full Metal Jacket) plays Mike Rogo, a Department of Homeland Security sea marshal assigned to protect the S.S. Poseidon on a voyage from Cape Town to Sydney. On the civilian end, the ship is populated with a random sampling of stereotypes, including philandering husband Richard Clarke (Steve Guttenberg), his ice-queen wife Rachel (Alexa Hamilton), a Jewish grandmother (Sylvia Syms), a lonely priest (Rutger Hauer), and a TV producer (Bryan Brown) on honeymoon with his much younger, American Idol-style wife (Tinarie Van Wyk-Loots). The ship's imminent sinking forces the survivors to confront their demons and make good with their significant others, all while cooperating to find a way out.
The film attempts to paint itself as more character-driven than the original, and while this is somewhat true, it comes at the expense of pacing. First we have to sit through a lengthy terrorist meeting—like the most boring, real-time episode of 24 ever—and endure an almost interminable amount of set-up, introducing each character with a series of broad, personality-defining strokes. By the time the bomb goes off, over an hour into the film, you'll have a grasp on who everybody is, but you might be too bored to even care. Thankfully, once the ship rolls over and starts sinking, the pace ratchets up a notch as our heroes flee through the flooded, on fire, or otherwise nearly impassable corridors. The ending, however, is almost as prolonged as the outset. When the survivors reach their final obstacle—an upside-down catwalk suspended over a raging fire—it takes forever for each character to cross, especially since they pause to emote, say potential goodbyes, and quake in fear at what is, I'd have to say, one of the easier obstructions they've had to surmount.
Which leads me to some of the film's other ridiculous elements. I know this is a TV movie and standards aren't as tight, but I caught numerous continuity errors, my favorite of which being a supposedly dead guy breathing and blinking quite apparently in the foreground. There's also a gratuitous, let's-get-the-hot-girl-in-her-bra-and-panties sequence, when Aimee, the pop-star, rips off her dress so the others can tear it into strips to use as smoke masks. Afterwards, she asks her husband for his coat, prompting me to wonder why they didn't just rip up the coat in the first place. Cheeky! Then, we have the somewhat suspect ability for Rachel to send a distress e-mail, even though the ship's communications have all been shut down. And why does every computer screen in the film look like it's from 1994, not 2005?
Still, most people come to disaster films looking for wanton destruction, not necessarily character or continuity, and The Poseidon Adventure does deliver some isolated thrills. I've always been a sucker for tilting sets—I get great joy watching actors slide across ceilings for some reason —and the capsizing sequence is unadulterated, rumble tumble goodness. The kitchen staff dangles from stainless steel tables, Cirque du Soleil-style acrobats plummet fatally to the ballroom floor, and two lovers fall literally head over heels when their mattress gets unceremoniously overturned. The CGI, however, is on par with something you'd see in a pre-rendered videogame cut-scene circa 1997. Fire and water effects are laughable, and the shots of the ship out on the ocean look flat and unconvincing.
Ultimately, NBC's The Poseidon Adventure is a me-too production that's even more unnecessary than Wolfgang Petersen's 2006 remake. While the actors turn in likeable, if occasionally hammy performances, and though there's a fair share of underwater mayhem, there's simply not enough new to justify the movie's existence. If you're looking for camp charm, stick with the original, and if you're after big-budget destruction, go with Petersen's impressive CGI display. This film doesn't really have either, and though it's among the better of the made- for-TV movies I've seen, I can't think of any real reason—besides its bargain-bin price—that you'd need to buy this on Blu-ray.
The Poseidon Adventure Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Poseidon Adventure's video quality has the odds stacked against it from the get go. For one, this is a made-for-TV movie, and the quality reflects it, from the flat and largely uninspired lighting to the antiquated CGI. The film's 1080p, MPEG-2 transfer only magnifies these flaws, and by cramming three hours of footage onto a BD-25, it shows some issues of its own, mostly in the form of compression artifacts and a few instances of noticeable aliasing on CGI elements. The print itself isn't in the best shape, and you'll count numerous white specks and flecks throughout. Grain is also heavy and persistent, littering the background and the foreground with rampant and often distracting noise. Black levels occasionally crush, but more often than not they take on a soupy, washed-out look that flattens the image. That said, for a TV movie this could have been a lot worse, and the colors, while over-pumped at times, are vibrant, especially royal blues. Clarity is hit or miss. There are a few ultra-crisp shots, mostly in close-up, but much of the film has a soft look that's due to the lighting conditions and/or grainy film stock. You'll never mistake The Poseidon Adventure for a modern theatrical offering, but for what it is it looks okay.
The Poseidon Adventure Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Poseidon Adventure comes with four audio tracks—Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby 2.0, and Linear PCM 2.0. I started my listening experience with the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but soon began to feel that the dialogue was incredibly low in the mix. The DTS 5.1 track (Note: Not HD Master Audio) proved better, with boosted vocal work and a livelier mix overall. For a TV movie, I'd say Poseidon's audio is slightly better than average. Dynamics are fairly solid, from the LFE rumble in the ship's bowels to high-end sound effects that are crisp and detailed. The first third of the film features quiet but substantial ambience in the rears—ballroom chatter and the clanging of cookware in the kitchen come to mind—but when disaster finally strikes, the surround channels get plenty of opportunity to whiz, bang, crash, and gurgle. The discrete effects are sometimes a little clunky, but considering the material, Poseidon sounds better than you might expect.
The Poseidon Adventure Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Director Featurette with John Putch (1080p, 7:26)
Putch shows off the ballroom sets in this fairly boring behind-the-scenes piece. I was really hoping to get some footage of the tilt sets in action, but alas, it was not to be.
Do note that while this is in 1080p, it definitely looks like upscaled video. The same goes for the rest of the special features.
Interviews (1080p, 16:00)
Included are brief interviews with Adam Baldwin, Rutger Hauer, Steve Guttenberg, Bryan Brown, Peter Weller, and C. Thomas Howell. Most of the actors talk about their experiences watching the original Poseidon and then describe the surface details of their characters. Insignificant stuff, really.
The Poseidon Adventure Trailer (1080p, 1:53)
The Poseidon Adventure Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There are far better disaster films to spend your hard-earned money on, and with an unimpressive visual presentation, merely sufficient audio, and a barebones package of extras, I can only recommend this made-for-TV sinker to diehard Poseidon enthusiasts. Save your money and buy Knowing instead.
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The Poseidon Adventure Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Poseidon Adventure Coming to Blu-ray - May 18, 2008
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment has announced the next two titles to their budget line of Blu-ray releases. On June 3rd, they will bring the 2005 remake of 'The Poseidon Adventure' and the Daryl Hannah film 'Final Days on Planet Earth'. Video will be presented as ...
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