Poseidon (Cert 12, 94 mins, #18.99)
Starring: Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, Jacinda Barrett, Richard Dreyfuss, Jimmy Bennett, Emmy Rossum, Mike Vogel, Mia Maestro, Andre Braugher, Kevin Dillon, Freddy Rodriguez.
Champagne corks pop aboard the luxury liner Poseidon as passengers celebrate the New Year. They are blissfully unaware of a gigantic rogue wave roaring towards the craft, which turns the boat upside down, killing many of those on board.
While Captain Michael Bradford (Braugher) and most of the survivors decide to stay in the giant ballroom, awaiting rescue, a plucky few head upwards, hoping to escape through the propeller tubes.
These brave souls include professional gambler John Dylan (Lucas), mother Maggie James (Barrett) and her young son Conor (Bennett), grouchy father Robert Ramsey (Russell) and his teenage daughter Jennifer (Rossum) plus her handsome fiance Christian (Vogel), suicidal gay architect Richard Nelson (Dreyfuss), waiter Marco Valentin (Rodriguez), obnoxious card player Lucky Larry (Dillon) and pretty stowaway Elena (Maestro).
The strangers race against time to find a way back to the surface, knowing every breath they take could be their last. From the moment the eponymous 20-story ocean liner capsizes, Wolfgang Petersen's hitech remake of The Poseidon Adventure barely pauses for breath.
It's a tour-de-force of meticulously orchestrated destruction. In the midst of the catastrophe, would-be heroes reveal an impressive ability to absorb and remember entire deck plans in a single lingering glance (even though the ship is now upside down, turning potential exits into dead ends), and the flooded corridors are, helpfully, littered with flares and flashlights.
Between traversing a lift shaft, crawling through a horribly claustrophobic ventilation duct, and wringing out the waterlogged cliches, screen-writer Mark Protosevich gives a passing glance to characterisation, then thinks better of it.
What a shame. Without any emotional ballast, we're all at sea when it comes to mustering fear or empathy for the survivors.
DVD Extras: "A Ship On The Sound Stage" behind the scenes featurette, theatrical trailer.