Poseidon is a movie that, in much the same way as something like Basic Instinct, which I love against all instincts of common sense or logic, I think defines the difference between awesome and bad. "Awesome" is no less preposterous, outlandish, or offensively stupid, but as opposed to "bad," it's also fun. As a matter of fact, the only problem with Poseidon is that it's not over-the-top enough: as many improbabilities mount up or bad lines of dialogue or even worse character developments occur, how much more satisfying would it have been for Richard Dreyfuss' cell phone to float by the lifeboat and have a message on it from his boyfriend, asking to get back together? We're talking Academy Award-worthy (okay, Razzie-worthy) satisfaction, that's how much.
In any case, the film was recently released on Blu-ray by the good folks at Warner Home Video, and it seems fitting to celebrate its absurd charm by highlighting the centerpiece scene of the film – you guessed it, the one in which a "rogue wave" takes the ship and its passengers on an unexpected detour.
The scene starts brilliantly when a member of the ship's crew takes a look off of one side of the ship to see the wave looming on the horizon; what's most amazing about this moment is that it requires binoculars to see a mile-high wall of water advancing toward the ship. But I find myself constantly fascinated by the idea that filmmakers will create these massive scenes of wanton destruction and yet at least try to provide the audience with something thrilling, and Poseidon is no different: while the ship gets literally turned upside down, passengers are tossed and thrown and based and drowned and electrocuted and burned – but it's, you know, entertaining! (There is nothing like seeing a woman in a evening gown smash face first into a glass dome – except of course for the sight of a hallway full of people getting incinerated by a fireball.)
Here's more or less the complete sequence:
The film really gets going later on, after Jacinda Barrett loses her son for the thirteenth time only to find him in a room that no one know (including him) how he entered. But there is little spectacle that's been created in the last decade as elaborate and idiotically entertaining as what's in Poseidon, and the new Blu-ray offers amazing presentation whether or not you want the adventure to wash over you.