Poseidon (HD DVD)

January 28, 2012 10 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

“Poseidon” kicked off the 2006 movie season late this Spring and, pun fully intended, sank at the box office. Well, most movies that make $60 million cant be called complete flops, consider the fact that the budget was $160 million. Im sure some heads were rolling at Warner when the numbers came in. And here we are, not even 90 days later and the first “big movie of the Summer is already on DVD. A sign of the times, perhaps? Nevertheless, “Poseidon was the remake of the 1972 classic “The Poseidon Adventure, a far more compelling movie with a better cast and characters that we really cared about. The main complaint with this remake, well there were two actually, was “Does it need to be remade? and the running time of the movie was a scant 98 minutes. Theres an old saying that goes “If it aint broke, dont fix it. Try telling that to the studio executives out on the left coast. Every major movie is either a sequel, adapted from a comic book or is a remake these days. This isnt necessarily a bad thing, but theres got to be more to making movies than special effects. All that aside, I will say that Wolfgang Petersen has had great success with movies about the ocean. “Das Boot and “The Perfect Storm are two great movies that show the wrath of the sea. Could he score a hat trick with “Poseidon?

“Poseidon goes on the assumption that you have seen the original and are just here for the visual part of the movie. Ok, thats fine with me. I like mindless action. No sooner do the opening credits roll than were hit with the films money shot. Yep, a huge wave comes out of the middle of the sea, flips the boat upside down and all of the sudden weve got a small group of passengers trying to make their way to the sea above. Naturally there has to be some conflict and so it goes. Robert Ramsey (Kurt Russell) is an ex-fireman and his daughter, Jennifer (Emmy Rossum) is trying to work up the nerve to tell her father about her engagement to Christian (Mike Vogel). Robert doesnt want to hear of it and there you have it…tension. Naturally weve got a rebel who prefers to work alone in Dylan (Josh Lucas) and an eccentric in Richard Nelson (Richard Dreyfuss). Throw in a few others and now youve got something to work with. As one might imagine, they lose a few along the way and as Robert reluctantly accepts his daughters love for Christian, things might as well be resolved. Is anyone else in the boat safe or is it just these half dozen folks? We dont really know and the filmmakers dont really want us to.

Im a fan of short movies and a fan of long movies and when I think of a boat upside down in the ocean, I think of “Titanic perhaps this movies antithesis. “Titanic had a great plot, characters you could actually know and care about and its what made the movie worthwhile. The same goes for “The Perfect Storm. “Poseidon has two-dimensional characters that spew out the same clichéd phrases and you can essentially tell who will make it out alive and who wont. And if you cant, its awfully reminiscent of another mindless action movie: “Armageddon. Now with all of my bitter remarks, youd think that I hated “Poseidon and I really didnt. There are far worse movies out there and the soundtrack alone might be reason enough to give this a rental, just dont expect to be mentally challenged when it comes to figuring out who goes next or what will happen in the end.

Video: How does it look?

I can remember being noticeably disappointed when I first popped in the standard DVD of “Poseidon and thankfully this HD DVD has now eased my worries. The standard DVD was plagued with a murkiness to it, some scenes were badly oversaturated and all things considered it just wasnt a good-looking transfer. This HD DVD has taken care of all that in that the colors seem to be a lot more level. The detail level is bumped up, of course, and even the artifacting that was present in some of the scenes is now a thing of the past. The 2.40:1 VC-1 transfer looks stellar and Im hard-pressed to find much wrong with the way this looks. If there was ever any doubt that HD DVD (or Blu-ray) didnt provide an excellent transfer, then take these two discs and do a side by side comparison. Colors are still a bit on the more burnt out side, like everyone has been sunbathing or maybe they were trying to overcompensate for everyone being in the water so much. Regardless, this HD DVD looks great…finally.

Audio: How does it sound?

Movies like this are usually geared for a few things and obviously sound is one of them. The standard DVD contained a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack which certainly delivered, but thats now a thing of the past. This HD DVD version contains a Dolby TrueHD track. For the uninformed, thats a true uncompressed soundtrack which really allows the sound to do its thing. The key scene (the tidal wave) probably takes the cake as the best example of surround sound on the disc, but dialogue sounds a bit more natural as well. Surrounds are almost constantly active and I can recall even hearing more nuances in the track. It just seems like theres a lot more going on here and if that isnt a good thing then I dont know what is.

Supplements: What are the extras?

If you coughed up the cash to purchase the two-disc version of “Poseidon” (and if youd have listened to us, you shouldnt have) then youll be delighted to find that all of the supplements are intact here. We start off with: “Poseidon: A Ship on a Soundstage: The Complexities of Making a Modern Adventure Movie” which is a long-winded way of saying “this movie cost a lot to make, here’s how we did it”. Ok, not really but what we do get is some behind the scenes information and some interviews with the cast and crew. Pretty standard stuff. Next up is “Poseidon: Upside Down: A Unique Set Design Chronicle” which showcases how the majority of the movie was filmed (bear in mind they were walking on the “ceiling” as the ship was upside down in the water. This showcases that feat and tells us some things we should know. Next is “A Shipmate’s Diary: A Film School Intern’s Experiences on the Set”. Now this is a bit more interesting as we have someone ripe from film school and he’s on the set of arguably one of the biggest movies of the year. How will he react? Tune in and find out! Lastly, there’s a pretty informative documentary from the History Channel about rogue waves. Evidently there are a lot more out there than we thought and this well-made documentary gives us all we need to know and more about this phenomenon. The real highlight of this HD DVD is the In Movie Experience, a diamond in the rough really showcasing whats possible with this new format. Actor Josh Lucas takes us through the filming of the movie in whats more like a diary, but it is interesting to watch this in the lower corner of the screen and see the movie going at the same time. You can really get more of a feel for what the actors went through and Im all in favor of Warner doing more of these In Movie Experiences. To sum it up, if you want “Poseidon” on your DVD shelf, then this is the version you should own better picture, sound and all of the supplements that were on the standard DVD plus and In Movie Experience.

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