Monday, June 05, 2006

Hell -- upside down!

“Poseidon”… Just as I expected, terrific special effects (especially the inversion!) but character development and dialogue were sorely lacking. This version could have used memorable lines like “Mrs. Peter Pan, I’m not” or “I saw a young officer on deck the other day, and he looked pretty damn familiar -- even with his clothes on!" or the immortal “Life always matters… very much… doesn't it? ERKH!” [head lolls back lifelessly]. We miss you, Shelley. Anyway, rather than bore everyone with yards of prose, I think a simple table should do the trick:

“The Poseidon Adventure” (1972)

“Poseidon” (2006)

Fading stars

Pretty much the whole cast except maybe Gene Hackman and the kid

Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss


Lame – a model in a bathtub

Excellent, thanks to the several thousand people credited with some sort of CGI work

Cheesy song

There’s Got to be a Morning After” (Maureen McGovern, lip-synched by Carol Lynley)

“Won’t Let You Fall” (sung over closing credits by Stacy Ferguson of the Black-Eyed Peas, who also brought some funkitude to New Year’s Eve)

People killed by…



Yes, though no char-broiled steak; there were “flash fires” that simply seared the victims’ lungs and saved a fortune on makeup

Massive coronary










Hard to say



Yes, though only after the fact

Yes, including a main character suffering this fate in crystal-clear water before our eyes

Getting squished by a runaway elevator


YEAH, baby!

Ludicrous death sounds

Shelley Winters

Kurt Russell

Person crashing through the ballroom skylight



Cute little boy who jumps into curtain from table now on ceiling and later gets lost due to caretakers just having other things on their minds

Yes (though far too precocious to be likeable)


Helpful waiter who bites it early

Roddy McDowell (Acres)

Valentin (Freddie Rodriguez)

Obnoxious mean guy who bites it early

The purser (Byron Webster)

Lucky Larry (Kevin Dillon)



Yes (who immediately reminds us of this joke)

Hilarious costumes

No contest…

Nonnie’s hot pants and white go-go boots

Linda’s see-through party dress

The men’s frilly tuxedo shirts

No, though with 30-odd years of fashion hindsight, who knows?

Sounds effects

Excellent – great creaking noises

Too many explosions and sounds of rushing water. Many audience members crossing their legs.

Deathless dialogue

Far too much to list here – try this. But of course we must single out for special mention: “God, not this woman! Not this manatee! Not this dirigible!”

Mighty slim pickins. After the escape started, the script mostly said “Run! Swim! Hurry! This way!” etc.

Spooky or suspenseful shots

A few, though most of the movie is at an amphetamine-driven pace:

The window rivets cracking in the ballroom

The ballast tank lights going on one by one

The fire door’s glowing red light

The view of the upside-down kitchen with a gas stove’s pilot light still burning

Quality of close-ups

Excellent, especially of the survivors at the end, but also:

Sobbing Gene Hackman

Heartbroken-yet-macho Ernest Borgnine

Dead Shelley Winters

Decent range of expression from Richard Dreyfuss and Kurt Russell, but other than that, it was mostly repeated views of:

“gleaming teeth bared in determination” (Josh Lucas)

“dastardly sneer” (Kevin Dillon)

“tearful maternal angst” (Jacinda Barrett)

“lousy actors playing sappy teenagers in love” (Mike Vogel and Emmy Rossum)

Convincing crying scenes

Gene Hackman (see above)

Manny Rosen, over his wife’s death

Mike Rogo, over his wife’s death

Mother and child almost separated by death

Dylan Johns, over Elena’s death (though why he cares is unclear, since no one ever talks to her except the waiter who was bonking her)

Religious article

Chai (Hebrew symbol of life), worn by Belle Rosen

Crucifix, worn by Elena and used as a screwdriver, for God’s sake! Where is the outrage??

Unanswered questions

Why did they let Linda Rogo out in public in that dress that clearly had no support structure?

How come people wade through water with electrical wires shorting out picturesquely all over the place but they never got electrocuted?

Why are Josh Lucas’s eyes so frighteningly blue?

Why are there propeller shafts in the bow?

How can ordinary humans hold their breath long enough to swim the length of several football fields underwater? Even Belle Rosen would’ve plotzed!

Why couldn’t Dylan be bothered to shave for a formal-dress New Year’s Eve party?

Why are there so many fires and explosions but no smoke?

1 comment:

Karen Olson said...

Only you, Alice, would have such a concise comparative box for the two films. And while I loved the campy first Poseidon, I'll probably wait for the new one on HBO or DVD.


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