Characters too similar in ‘The Poseidon Adventure’ |

Characters too similar in ‘The Poseidon Adventure’

DAN THOMASpitkin county correspondent
Dan Thomas

There’s nothing fair about what gets a remake and what doesn’t.By most accounts, “The Poseidon Adventure” was probably due after 34 years. Wolfgang Petersen raised the ante in 1981 with “Das Boot” and again in 2000 by adapting Sebastian Jünger’s “The Perfect Storm” in the wake of James Cameron’s “Titanic,” the redefinition of nautical-disaster-adventure-as-chick-flick.

Maybe Petersen’s to blame for making the genre such a buzzkill in the first place: The original “Poseidon” contained an awful lot of soap operatics for something with “Adventure” in its title. So he was a natural choice for turning over the ocean liner again, while turning down the corn and cheese of the original (and of last year’s dreadful TV remake).For the new “Poseidon,” Petersen tones it down almost to anti-“Titanic” levels. Not only is there no Riverdancing in steerage class, the big-budget “Poseidon” confines its displays of opulence to the first few scenes, except after the boat capsizes and morphs all the bling into deadly hazards.

There are a few principals who command attention – professional gambler Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas), ex-firefighter Robert Ramsay (Kurt Russell), his daughter Jennifer (Emmy Rossum) and her beau, Chris (Mike Vogel) – but the main characters are so bland it’s hard to tell them apart, much less keep their names straight. And while a lot of movies have taken the diversity requirement too far in assembling their motley crews of castaways, the less … er … colorful a survivor is, the better chance he or she has to survive “Poseidon.”The focus on action, though, certainly isn’t all bad after the excessive back story that’s crept into action-adventure movies over the past decade or so. “Poseidon” moves like an exceptionally well-mannered horror movie: The water rises to the hull relentlessly, the lights blink off underwater, and the protagonists run out of room. Petersen never dwells on their idiosyncrasies long enough for viewers to forget that this ship is sinking.

The downside is that it comes off pretty bare-bones for such a big-budget movie, and like last year’s remake of “War of the Worlds,” it’s not a lot of fun. Then again, I’m frankly not sure a chronicle of a last, desperate gasp for survival aboard a capsized ship should be.Action and adventure usually do great during the summer, but “Poseidon” foundered at the box office. Maybe we knew it all along: There’s got to be a morning after.

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