34 years ago, The Poseidon Adventure rode the trendy disaster meme of its day to stellar box office and numerous Oscar nominations. Today, Poseidon sits poised to ride the current effects meme to similar financial reward and perhaps some technical nods to boot. What it probably won't see is acclaim for its dialogue, story, or characters, but those laurels largely eluded its predecessor as well.
As with its forerunner, Poseidon opens with an introduction to its namesake, a massive luxury liner, and its passengers, which in this installment include an ex-mayor/firefighter (Kurt Russell), his daughter (Emmy Rossum), her beloved (Mike Vogel), a gambler (Josh Lucas), a jilted lover (Richard Dreyfuss), a stowaway (Mía Maestro), an inevitably hot single mom (Jacinda Barrett), her inevitably adorable tyke (Jimmy Bennett), and a waiter (a completely wasted Freddy Rodríguez). If you think reading a list of these stereotypes is tiresome, watching them establish their personas is more so.
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The painfully obvious plotline makes this an overly long medical thriller with no thrill. All that's left is some spewed-out medical terms, a sappy love story, and a few million bucks worth of military surplus jeeps and tanks. Luckily, Dustin and Co. are able to put this stuff to fairly good work, with strong performances by Hoffman and Russo saving the day, and the eerie feeling that all this military goofiness is just a bit too real.
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Troy leaves the talking to its triumvirate of Hollywood royalty - Brian Cox, Brendan Gleeson, and Peter O'Toole. The dying is left up to the chiseled and marketable studs - Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, and Brad Pitt. Whenever a member of the veteran trio interacts with a member of the other on screen, it creates a mismatch of talent not even a Trojan Horse could overcome.
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Frankly, I was shocked to discover how much I liked Air Force One. Yes, it has villainous Russians who can never see our good guy President (Harrison Ford) when he's hiding right in front of them (much less shoot him). Yes, it has Secret Service guys who die at the hand of the enemy like flies in a bug zapper. Yes, it has the cheesiest special effects this side of of a Tom & Jerry cartoon. Yes, it features a rambling Gary Oldman in one of his clearly improvised looney-tune terrorist/psychopath roles. I could go on and on...
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In the first vignette, Garance hops through about three guys in one night. One's shy. One tries to beat her with his belt (before neighbors burst in and turn the tables). A third likes costumes. Garance lives to screw another day.
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Bicentennial Man aims to turn that all around by making Williams something we can relate to once again. Ironically, that's not as a human: It's as a robot.
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