All wet

Poseidon Adventure remake does nothing new but annoy

“MMMMM … YESSS”<br>Richard Dreyfuss makes it out to sea sans Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw.

Richard Dreyfuss makes it out to sea sans Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw.

Starring Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell and Richard Dreyfuss. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen. Rated PG-13.
Rated 2.0

Hi. I’m Craig Blamer, and I am a total and complete The Poseidon Adventure junkie.

What’s not to like? A mammoth tidal wave flips a transatlantic ocean liner ass-over-teakettle, and a handful of death baits make their way up through down to escape—check. Ernest Borgnine—check. The lovely Carol Lynley singing that insidious ear worm “The Morning After"—check. Gene Hackman in that full-on Nietzsche-meets-Christ mode—check. Leslie Nielsen as the captain in his last straight role before hitting that career rearrangement moment of Airplane!—check.

Shelley Winters doing that wet dress thing—check. Check out. Check, please.

I mean, really … check, please. Please. For the love of God, give me the check, please.

Check this out: Wolfgang Petersen’s remake brings nothing new to the table and then leaves with even less. With its aggressive disregard for physics, it even manages to make its 90-minute running time seem infinitely longer.

Not that it’s bad ….

It’s just not any good.

Gather around, folks, as we enter the land of zero character development. What we have here is Kurt Russell as the former mayor of New York, a former firefighter uneasy about the relationship between his daughter and her secret fiancé. Then there’s the gay dude. And the hot stowaway. Then there’s the single mother and her young son, not to mention the jerk with a mustache (a redundancy, but … y’know). Fast forward as the excrement hits the rotating device and the characters go through the motions.

Essentially, that right there is the character development. It’s pretty easy to figure out who’s gonna die, and they all die on schedule. While the original took time to consider themes of faith, heroism and existentialism in its own chowder-headed ‘70s sort of way, here the only thing that catches Petersen’s attention is the pixels. And while I’m not CGI-phobic, having a digital character plunge from his table down into a chandelier with a smash of sparks just doesn’t hold the same impact as watching a flesh-'n-blood stuntman pull off the same routine.

The big problem with wan character development in an ensemble piece is that when you finally figure out a character to empathize with and he or she ends up whacked, you sort of lose interest. We also have a perverse version of a luxury liner with no old people, no fat people, nor even any old, fat people.

Maybe it all boils down to the Josh Lucas factor. Who in the hell is Josh Lucas and why does he rate billing over Kurt Russell and Richard Dreyfuss?

OK, the dude does seem to have a low-budget Matthew McConaughey-buggered-Kevin Costner-and-spawned-a-bastard-offspring vibe going down, and even worse the filmmakers seem to have taken an inordinate amount of energy to highlight his preternaturally blue eyes to the point that one goes: Who in the hell is this man sleeping with?

Ultimately, it boils down to the shallow waters of the target audience. You want a movie with Josh Lucas as the lead? Well then, here’s your crap. Choke on it.

This movie would have gotten a much better rating if it had ended with a great white shark lurching up from the depths to swallow Dreyfuss whole as the others try to pull him into the incongruous inflatable life raft. Well, not whole … leave behind a hand and wrist with Rolex still attached. That’d be cool. But that doesn’t happen, so … meh.