Movie Review: Poseidon is a Monumental Masterpiece

The film Poseidon, directed by Wolfgang Petersen and seen at the Flagship Cinema, is a successful summer action thriller. The film tells the story of the disaster and devastation that unfolds when the luxury cruise liner, Poseidon, is hit by what is called a “rogue wave,” a sudden, unpredictable, and fatal tidal wave. The ship is capsized and eight people dedicated to survival attempt to escape from the ship before it sinks. These eight must wind their way through the maze of flash fires and flooding passageways to make it to safe world outside of the ship.

The film is also about the character development that the people undergo as their knowledge, wits, and physical strength and endurance are pushed to the max in an effort to survive. One of the most significant character developments we witness is that of the hero, Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas) who is transformed from a man who lives for himself and by himself and “works better on my own,” to a man who is striving his hardest, not to save himself, but to save his seven followers. In the end it is not himself he wants desperately to rescue; it is his followers.

It is the directing in this film that makes it such a monumental success. In an interview with Paul Fischer Petersen expresses a profound awe and admiration for the sea. Through his directing he intended to express the sea as he views it: as the biggest force of nature in which resides frightening and destructive chaos.

Petersen also expressed his desire to make a film in which the audience feels it has gone down with the people trapped in the ship when the ship capsizes. He wanted to use every single tool at his disposal to truly capture the reality and terror felt in disaster.

He wanted to show disaster as it really is and show how people react to it and also invite the people in the audience to say how they would react. He succeeded. Most of his success is attributed to the fact that he designed and constructed a real set; he did not use CGI. The actors in the film experience truly experience every single scene as reality.

Each actor did 90 percent to 100 percent of his or her own stunts. When we see Josh Lucas as Dylan Johns dive into flaming water and swim several feet under the flames, we are seeing Josh Lucas do this in reality; not a stunt double, or CGI. And the result is raw, tense emotion. Petersen did just what he set out to do. He captured the reality and raw emotion of a disaster on film. This film is a monumental must see. I give it five stars