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Under the Sea of Bland Characters, 'Poseidon' Sinks

By Jeremy Mathews
(out of four)
Columbia Pictures

Directed by Wolfgang Petersen

Screenplay by Mark Protosevich, based on the novel by Paul Gallico

Starring Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, Jacinda Barrett, Richard Dreyfuss, Jimmy Bennett, Emmy Rossum, Mike Vogel and Kevin Dillon
Rated PG-13

If "Poseidon" had a screenplay, then director Wolfgang Petersen and countless designers, builders and effects technicians would not have worked in vain to create a visually impressive sequence in which the titular luxury boat meets with a rogue wave that turns it upside down. The sequence instead would have had a real impact that only grows as the main characters attempt a desperate escape.

If "Poseidon" had a screenplay, it might have characters worth caring about, who weren't agonizingly, remarkably, impossibly bland. Josh Lucas plays a professional gambler named Dylan, who decides he's going to find his own way out of the boat after it turns upside down. "I work better alone," he says before letting five people go with him. I guess that the screenwriters thought that, "I'm a lone wolf who plays by his own set of rules and I don't need anyone else, though I will in fact try to save everyone," was too blunt.

Kurt Russel plays a wealthy former firefighter and former mayor, who wants to get out of the ballroom to and to the disco to rescue his daughter and her fiancé, who is there for pretty much no reason.

Kevin Dillon manages to bring a bit of personality—albeit reminiscent of his character on entourage—in his short turn as a selfish jackass high-roller, and is punished by death for this flourish of character. Richard Dreyfus completely wastes his time as a wealthy businessman and semi-suicidal jilted lover.

If "Poseidon" had a screenplay, the film's decent pacing might have been fruitful. Running less than 100 minutes, the film is short for this style of epic disaster films and it manages to reflect the urgent hurry to get off before the water fills it up and takes it down. The characters occasionally stand around for no reason, mainly to create some false emotions in the hopes of escaping the fact that none of them are worth caring about. How engaging it might have been, if the film had a screenplay.

jeremy [at]


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