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I am a big fan of THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE and was eager to see director Wolfgang Petersen’s take on the same tale, not to mention seeing the story told with state of the art special effects. Now to be honest POSEIDON ($25) isn’t a bad little action/adventure/disaster movie, but it can’t shine the shoes of the original film, even with some terrific digital special effects. The biggest problem with POSEIDON is the film’s all-too-brief ninety-eight minute running time. With such a short running time, POSEIDON barely has the opportunity to sketch out its narrative, leaving character development to be virtually non-existent. If you don’t know the characters, you don’t care about the characters, and if you don’t care about the characters… well, that pretty much sucks almost all the suspense out of the film’s life and death situations. As for Wolfgang Petersen’s contributions… well, POSEIDON isn’t THE PERFECT STORM, but the special effects are just as cool as they were on his earlier directorial effort.

The premise of POSEIDON is virtually identical to the original film, although the characters completely different and mostly forgettable. During the New Year’s Eve celebration on board the ocean liner named Poseidon, an enormous rogue wave capsizes the cruise ship shortly after midnight. The plot then follows a small band of individuals that survive the Poseidon’s overturning, who then realize that their continued survival is dependent upon their ability to make it to the surface, before the cruise ship sinks to the bottom of the ocean. What follows is a race against time, as the small group of survivors begins climbing up into the ship’s heavily damaged lower decks, which are the only portion of the Poseidon that still remain above water. POSEIDON stars Kurt Russell as ex-firefighter and former New York City Mayor Robert Ramsey, who goes from protecting his daughter Jennifer (Emmy Rossum) from the amorous advances of her boyfriend Christian (Mike Vogel), to just trying to keep all three of them alive long enough to escape the ship. Other stock character survivors include the roguish gambler Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas), the suicidal jilted lover Richard Nelson (Richard Dreyfuss), the protective mother Maggie James (Jacinda Barrett) and her child in peril Conor (Jimmy Bennett). The cast of POSEIDON also features Andre Braugher, Mía Maestro, Jimmy Bennett, Freddy Rodríguez, Kevin Dillon, Kirk B.R. Woller, Stacy Ferguson, Kelly McNair, Gordon Thomson and Gabriel Jarret.

Warner Home Video has made POSEIDON available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. For the most part, the 1080p presentation proves itself to be quite pleasing. Of course, the higher resolution of Blu-ray does tend to reveal the artificial nature of a number of the digital effects; something that was better concealed on the standard definition DVD. In generally, the picture appears pretty sharp and nicely defined, even down to the levels of fine detail and texturing. However, sequences that employ visual effects have been digitally graded and mildly softened to make the mixture of live action and digital elements more seamless. In the case of POSEIDON, digital effects dominate much of the film, which results in a mild softness, much of the time. Color reproduction is fairly excellent, with hues appearing fully saturated and totally stable. Additionally, flesh tones appear quite attractive. Blacks are inky, while the whites appear clean. Contrast appears very smooth. Shadow detail is fairly good, but appear wanting in some shots. The elements from which POSEIDON has been mastered are pretty much without flaws. There is a light veneer of grain within the image, which helps create an organic quality for the presentation.

POSEIDON is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. POSEIDON comes with a killer soundtrack that pulls the viewer into the film, even when the paper-thin characters cannot. The sound design is highly aggressive and places the listener in the midst of the death throes of the slowly sinking ship. All of all the outlying channels are well utilized for sound effects placement, as well as allowing said effects to effortlessly pan throughout the soundstage. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is terrific for both the music and sound effects. The bass channel is fully percussive during explosions and shakes the ground, whenever doomed ship shudders. Dialogue is crisply rendered and generally easy to understand. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras that have been ported from the DVD release. Poseidon: A Ship On A Soundstage is a twenty-two minute look behind-the-scenes, with a specific emphasis on the elaborate sets created to simulate the capsized ocean liner. Poseidon: Upside Down a ten-minute elaboration on the preceding program, with more discussion from members of the production team. A Shipmate’s Diary is a twelve-minute video diary created by Wolfgang Petersen’s assistant Malona P. Voight during the production of the film. Finally, Rogue Waves is a twenty-eight minute program from The History Channel that examines the real life phenomena that capsizes our fictional cruise ship.

What POSEIDON lacks in characterization, it kind of makes up for with plenty of action, fun special effects and a great disaster movie soundtrack. The Blu-ray sometimes reveal the artifice of the digital effects, but for the most part, delivers a pleasing picture and an excellent lossless soundtrack. Those fond of POSEIDON will certainly get enjoyment from this Blu-ray release.



Poseidon [Blu-ray] (2006)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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