Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Poseidon: The Movie
Hollywood, and specifically Warner Bros., would really like to know why its remake of The Poseidon Adventure, renamed Poseidon, has failed to draw the crowds at the box office. If you ask me, although the movie is visually spectacular, it's a fairly unengaging adventure romp with what many critics agree is an uninspired script. Despite these qualities, or lack thereof, I think the poor showing has more to do with the fact the execs responsible for it misread their intended audience.
If we look back to the Great Depression, and the years during and immediately following World War II, we find a general audience more inclined to see movies about real events or movies with feel-good themes that make them forget, if only for two hours, the horror and pain of the world around them. This doesn't mean people want to avoid the full range of emotion, or want to ignore serious subjects (i.e. United 93), or don't want to learn about something new (March of the Penguins). What it means, I think, is they see certain catastrophic fictional stories as being too frivolous for the times.
Poseidon, the movie, exciting as it probably is, with huge sets and pyrotechnics and all manner of things blowing up left and right, should be doing better. It has a good cast, and it's helmed by an experienced director with two award winning sea stories under his belt -- Das Boot, and The Perfect Storm. But is it the wrong movie at the wrong time, especially going up against the real thing: United 93?
Mission Impossible III is doing well? The X-Men are kicking butt -- Biggest Memorial Day weekend opening ever! Why is Poseidon, excuse me for saying, sinking? Again, if you ask me, it's because MI3 and X-Men are pure fantasies about fictional characters overcoming obviously fictional situations with inhuman ability. Poseidon is, basically, a pseudo-fantasy, with fictional characters overcoming a semi-real situation by ordinary, and, in some cases, extraordinary means. Except . . . the situation is one that has never happened in real life, and yet the film makers need us to believe it can happen in order for us to suspend disbelief. In other words, the movie's a fake, but it's not fake enough.
In my opinion, at a time of war, unless it's a one-of-kind movie, i.e. really special, or based on a true story, people want to fantasize about having superior abilities so they can change what in real life can't be changed by ordinary means. I figure this is the reason because I'm a sea story nut and I have no interest in seeing Poseidon. You know, I get it, the ship turns over, and a bunch of passengers escape by climbing up (down) and out through the bow thruster opening. (In the original, they escape through one of the propellor shaft tunnels.)
Hopefully, this won't color Hollywood's future interest in setting great sea stories to film. Let's hope execs will look back at other great marine adventure movies and want to make more.