A gripping, pacy remake of Irwin Allen's 1972 classic disaster movie, Poseidon follows the adventures of a gang of passengers on board a luxury cruise ship capsized by a freak tsunami. Led by professional gambler Josh Lucas, our ragtag band of heroes must fight their way to freedom (or in some cases, horrible death) through lakes of fire, corridors of corpses and that ever-reliable disaster movie standby, the ventilation shaft. Essentially, it's Titanic without all the dull bits.
Whereas the original Poseidon Adventure was a big, soggy epic packed with screaming clichés, spectacular deaths and a sneaky religious subtext, this post-milennial version is leaner than a starving jaguar. Director Wolfgang Peterson made his name on the rivet-sweating submarine drama Das Boot, and he knows his way around a waterlogged corridor.
"A JOLLY ROLLERCOASTER"
Chucking the characters from Paul Gallico's novel overboard and paring backstory to a bare minimum, Peterson fills the space with setpiece after setpiece, hardly giving the audience room to draw breath. It's a refreshing approach, but since the new characters are pretty dull, the experience is more of a jolly rollercoaster than a scary movie.
Josh Lucas is an unusually slimy hero; he dashes through the film with a snarl so vivid that it threatens at any moment to jump through the screen and bite your face off. Kurt Russell, as the taciturn tough guy, has all the animation of a lifeboat, and the girls don't make any impression at all. Thankfully there's Richard Dreyfuss, who looks rather like a sunbaked lizard these days, to add a touch of emotional ballast.