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Where is the director's cut?
on 21 March 2011
Poseidon runs a surprisingly brisk 99 minutes, with 10 minutes reserved for credits. It cost Warner $160 million dollars to produce, which means that the film cost $900, 000 for every thirty seconds of footage. Wolfgang Petersen's original cut was 125 minutes before someone, somewhere ordered him to cut it down. Don't get me wrong, it's constantly going and the short running time matches the no-seconds-to-spare realism of a gradually sinking capsized ship. The set pieces the film has to offer are all nail-biting and intense, but I just felt that there wasn't enough of them.
I'm not such a big fan of the original. I liked it as a kid but viewing it as an adult I'm turned-off by the soap opera drama and dated effects. Back in the early 70s this may well have been fine but perhaps such advances in movie effects is why remakes of these kind of movies are not so unnecessary. Though I don't really consider this a 'remake' as it is just another version of Paul Gallico's novel.
The characters are all likable and even though the set-up and introductions are pretty quick, we get to know enough and grow attached to them before the big wave hits (no longer a tsunami) and what a set-piece that turns out to be! The initial capsizing of the ship is a brilliantly edited destruction derby in which many, many human lives meet violent deaths. If there would be just one thing the film has to offer it is plenty of dead bodies. But why not go one step further and show some really heavy gruesomeness? I would have liked that!
The idiots (there are usually loads in disaster films) stay behind in the ballroom while a bunch of more sensible survivors decide to escape by going up (down) to the engine room and out through the propeller tubes. Only because everything is inverted, there are loads of obstacles, including a race-against-time in a very small and very cramped air vent. Not all of them make it!
It's a shame that Poseidon didn't do better at the box office but it faced stiff competition in summer 2006. The worldwide grosses maxed out at $181 million, so it only just barely broke even. For some reason Poseidon has had a bad reputation, which is doesn't deserve. The theatrical cut, available here on this Blu Ray, is stripped-down and on the nose. A fleshed-out extended version might win over the doubters.
The Blu Ray features a great 2.35:1 1080p picture and a DTS HD-MA soundtrack with plenty of extras.