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Blu-ray Review: Poseidon

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My first encounter with Poseidon was an unpleasant one. It was a weeknight following the movie’s premiere at a local theater; the auditorium was inhabited mostly by empty seats. I was one of perhaps three people that attended that evening — and I firmly believe the other two individuals present were theater employees getting a free ride.

The empty theater was my first clue.

The opening credits began to roll. The name of screenwriter Akiva Goldsman — one of the Hollywood’s least-finest — soon flashed by as a producer. Therein was the second clue.

And then, the movie itself (the third and final clue that I should have spent my $8 on a few more beers) began to play out. At best, it was a bland and (ha, ha) shallow remake of 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure (itself an adaptation of Paul Gallico’s novel). All of the major cinematic elements that the original film was well-remembered for were present: a big boat, a big wave, and a big disaster — emphasis on disaster. But, wherein the 1972 film actually went so far as to include realistic characters, the Wolfgang Petersen-directed remake eliminated the human element altogether: patching together a number of stars (up-and-coming and washed-out alike) in a tale of survival involving an overturned cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

As the young hero, actor Josh Lucas is forgettable. Co-star Kurt Russell seems to be doing a paint-by-numbers routine. Richard Dreyfuss’ performance is that of a memorable one: not because he’s convincing, but because he portrays an aging queen who somehow manages to inadvertently kill off all of the movie’s ethnic characters. Recording artist Fergie gets a grand introduction (no doubt to cause all of the pre-teen girls that didn’t show up to go, “Ooh, it’s Fergie!”) and is quickly forgotten about (which is a blessing), only to be killed off later on (which is a huge blessing).

I still have no idea what they were thinking with this one. Yes, I can understand Hollywood wanting to use modern computer technology to spruce up an old story with new-and-improved special effects (it worked for George Lucas, didn’t it?), but, in the case of Poseidon, all they succeeded in doing was spending a shitload of money on something nobody really bothered to go and see.

Hooray for Hollywood.

My second encounter with Poseidon was via Warner Home Video’s Blu-ray release. And, while the 1080p/VC-1 2.40:1 High Def presentation of the lackluster blockbuster definitely looks better than it did when I saw it in the theater four years previous, I can’t say it improved the experience for me any. On the plus side, Warner’s transfer displays a great deal of detail (which, in turn, reveals just how obvious the film’s usage of CGI really is), with a smooth contrast and some better-than-average colors (for a movie that is rather dark and has a lot of underwater scenes, that is).

Accompanying the feature film is an impressive 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Lossless soundtrack. If there is any reason to see Poseidon on Blu-ray, it would be for said soundtrack. From that CGI-laden moment that the evil rogue wave capsizes the helpless liner, to the final moment where our soulless survivors are saved from the blue waters of death, this audio mix is pretty frickin’ awesome. Explosions, waves, screaming, and Fergie’s annoying musical number come through loud and clear, encompassing the viewer (well, aurally, at least). There was also some dialogue present in the movie, I think, but it tends to get washed away with some of the actors every once in a while. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks are also included, and subtitles are available in English (SDH), French, and Spanish.

Seeing as how Warner’s Blu-ray of Poseidon is just a catalogue release, I didn’t expect much in the way of new special features. The disc carries over the same bonus materials that were featured on the Two-Disc Special Edition DVD release of the film — as well as the HD-DVD issue — but completely neglects to give them an HD makeover. The handful of supplements includes three production/behind-the-scenes featurettes (“Poseidon: A Ship On A Soundstage,” “A Shipmate‘s Diary,” and “Poseidon: Upside Down”) and a History Channel program about the phenomenon of “Rouge Waves” (which is the most interesting thing on here).

In the long run, Poseidon makes about as big of a splash on Blu-ray as it did in theaters: a shallow one. But at least it’ll give your audio setup a good workout (and Fergie dies…how cool is that?).

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.
  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/josh-hathaway Josh Hathaway

    Well done, Sir Luigi. The Fergie blasts have made this Monday slightly more tolerable.

  • http://viclana.blogspot.com/ Victor Lana

    Luigi, if you really want to see something that is bad, but also laugh-out-loud but unintentionally funny, rent the sequel to the original movie. It stars Telly Savalas (minus his lollipop). Michael Caine also shows up and reads his lines. It is hysterical and terrible, which somehow makes it fun.

  • http://www.mindybeanphotography.com Mindy

    The movie wasn’t that great but your post was. I enjoyed reading it and I agree with Josh the Fergie blast was a major highlight for me.

  • John

    Does anyone know why when you play some of these new Blu-Ray DVD’s on PC, the sound is very faint? I am using Win-DVD?

  • Jacky

    Hi,John

    I believe you bought a private DVD. Several month ago, i still got the same problem as yours with my DVD, later on, my friend told me that was a private one!

  • Wayne

    Jeebus! You’d think they would have at least included the half an hour or so worth of scenes they left on the cutting room floor.