A mini-commentary on remake mentality:

If you spend enough time around people who don't know all that much about the film industry, one of the complaints you hear a lot is the question, "why do they always have to remake movies? Don't they have any new ideas?" To the second of these, I can only say, no, but that's not always a problem (only three of Shakespeare's plays were original). The second is a little bit trickier; the unspoken assumption is that the old movies, because they are old, are necessarily "good." Which answers the question, really. Remakes happen for the same reason that sequels happen: studio executives (a naturally conservative lot) want sure bets, and if audiences enjoy a story once, they're going to enjoy it again. And sadly, history bears this out.

There are two addenda to this rule: the first is that American audiences allegedly hate subtitles, and therefore it's more cost-effective to remake a foreign language film than to distribute it in it's native tongue. The second is that sometimes a movie has a really great concept, but the execution is pure crap; in this case, a remake can capitalise on the good will the original somehow maintains, while producing a superior work.

And then there are films that just fly in the face of everything I've written, and exist for no reason at all. And this is where I introduce Poseidon.

The simple fact of the matter is that, however much money it made, nobody really loves The Poseidon Adventure. It's one of the great examples of the other '70s cinema, the excessive, uninteresting, Irwin Allen-produced kind. Sure, it's remembered with something like fondness, but it's not for the awful film or its goofy premise. It's for, above all else, some truly amazing scenery chewing by Gene Hackman (in his career-worst performance - barely), Ernest Borgnine and especially Shelley Winters. In other words, it's a satisfyingly hearty serving of ham and cheese.

Why anyone would expect that the audience for that film would respond to a CGI heavy action film is beyond me, but that's what we've got, so that's what I get to review. And really, nothing in Poseidon is "bad" as such, just as nothing at all is "good." It's a competent, soulless, dull slog led by a master of the form, Wolfgang Petersen, who is apparently considered a great sea director based on the lauded Das Boot (which I have not seen), and the tedious The Perfect Storm.

The plot, if you've managed to miss it, involves a large cruise ship, a larger wave, and the bad things that happen when they meet. Apparently in such an event, the ship will end up flipped over "bum over kettle" as they say, and the reviewer will briefly question the physics involved, but run with it because that's the premise, and it's not fair to criticise a movie's premise.

The survivors, in the ship's ballroom at the time of the accident, include an ex-firefighter/ex-New York Mayor (Kurt Russell; so this is where you've been), his daughter (Emmy Rossum, who is supposed to be a new Hot Young Thing but won't be), her secret fiancΓ© (Mike Vogel), a gay architect (Richard Dreyfuss; so this is where you've been), a stowaway (MΓ­a Maestro), a single mother (Jacinda Barrett), her moppet (Jimmy Bennett), a screamingly unpleasant slimeball (Kevin Dillon), and their leader, a suave professional gambler (Josh Lucas). Staying behind is a room full of expendable meat, led by Andre Braugher. I've listed them all so you can play the same game I did, which was guessing who would die and in what order. I was wrong on one count; one character survived whom I predicted to die second to last.

They crawl from setpiece to setpiece, trying to work their way through the ship to reach its bottom (now top). I entertained myself by picking the effects from the real sets, although I must give them credit for how much of the inside of the boat seems to have been filmed in real life. Less so the outside of the boat. At one point I held my breath to see if I could do it as long as the characters had to, and I couldn't, but I was just sitting, while they were swimming and opening hatches, so that seems reasonable.

Oh, and Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson of the Black Eyed Peas sings three songs, then dies.