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Film / Poseidon

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Poseidon is a 2006 American Disaster Movie directed by Wolfgang Petersen and starring Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, and Richard Dreyfuss, with a supporting cast including Emmy Rossum, Jacinda Barrett, Mike Vogel, Mia Maestro, and Kevin Dillon. It is the third screen adaptation of The Poseidon Adventure.

Tropes in this film:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: It is utilized, but handled a bit more realistically than most examples of this trope. The ducts are wide enough to crawl through without very much effort, but one character does get stuck in a compressed section and has to be helped out, another one suffers from claustrophobia, and the heroes nearly drown due to the rising water because it takes a lot of effort to get the panel on the other side open.
  • Anyone Can Die: And indeed almost everyone does including the primary protagonist, Robert.
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  • Artistic License – Physics: Lots and lots of examples, from Convection Schmonvection, to the ballroom windows all imploding at exactly the same time, to flaming columns of diesel fuel, to that bow thruster motor being so powerful it creates a 100 mph wind tunnel and easily sucks in a heavy acetylene tank.
  • Asshole Victim: Lucky Larry. He completely ostracizes Robert in front of the others before he takes his turn to cross the fallen elevator track, and is crushed underneath an entire falling engine. Sure enough, once the group recovers from the shock of what just happened, they move on without a second thought.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Everyone else gets thoroughly soaked several times before Emmy Rossum's hair finally stays matted down like it should. After that, everyone's a mess.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Six people survive and are rescued by helicopters, but everyone else from their group (including Robert) is dead along with everyone else on the ship with the ship itself sinking.
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  • Bookends: The movie opens with a spectacular shot of the magnificent ship in all its glory. It ends with a thoroughly haunting, chilling shot (the ominous music really doesn't help) of the now ruined ship turning back over before finally sinking for good.
  • Bury Your Gays: Averted. Despite preparing to commit suicide just before the wave hits (he's despondent over the end of his relationship), Richard is one of the final survivors.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When the ship turns over, a lone little life raft pops to the surface as testiment to the completeness of the disaster. When the survivors make it out of the ship, that lone life raft is there, waiting for them to wait in until help arrives.
  • Claustrophobia: Elena suffers from this, and has to be physically dragged inside a flooding air vent that offers her only chance of survival. She also has a momentary panic attack when one of the others gets stuck inside.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Very much so. At the very least the door which is hot enough Dylan can throw water onto and it boils - Conor probably didn't need the demonstration if the door was that hot - you could probably smell the hot wood and feel the heat radiation. Also the room where the diesel fuel falls from the ceiling and ignites.
  • Cool, Clear Water: That water inside the ship should be disgusting and murky, having filtered through rooms and rooms full of God-knows-what. Averted in in Real Life - the cast often dealt with infections from spending so much time in the water even though the water was pretty clean.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Averted.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The friendly and helpful Valentin suffers an absolutely horrific, completely undeserved death — after the table they are using to cross an elevator shaft collapses, he is left clinging to Richard's leg while Dylan and Robert attempt to pull both of them up, to no avail. Realizing the elevator is about to give way, Dylan orders Richard to shake Valentin off or they will both die. Valentin falls and is impaled on a piece of metal at the bottom, then crushed by the falling elevator, which explodes, setting the entire elevator shaft on fire.
  • Death of a Child: While Connor survives, he couldn't possibly have been the only child on the ship.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The entire ship becomes one after it capsizes.
    • One notable example has to be what happens to Lucky Larry, as the ship drops an engine on him.
    • The crowning example was what happened to Robert. Swimming on a one way trip to turn off the bow thrusters, he finds the emergency-stop destroyed. In his Dying Moment of Awesome, he manages to reverse them instead, allowing the survivors to throw an explosive gas tank into the props to destroy them.
    • An equally nefarious example is Elena's death. Just after surviving a series of back-to-back near-drowning encounters, a stray wire traps Elena underwater behind the group, right as she's on the cusp of freedom. She subsequently panics, suffers blunt-force trauma on a piece of shrapnel, drowns, and is unable to be revived.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The Cruise Director, who gives away Rogo's purpose as a sea marshal, and insists that everyone stay inside the dining room, even after it's pointed out that the ship will inevitably sink.
  • Disaster Movie: Based on one of the most iconic disaster movies of all time.
  • Disappeared Dad: Conner's father is never seen or mentioned at all in the film.
  • Don't Look Down: Especially when they're in the atrium of the ship.
  • Dwindling Party: Just like the original, they lose a party member nearly every time they move to a new place on the ship.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Besides Robert's Heroic Sacrifice, the Poseidon herself: when the ballast tanks finish flooding, her, now a ghost ship, rolls upright one final time before slipping beneath the waves never to be seen again.
  • Enclosed Space: The flooding air vent.
  • Expy: The Poseidon herself is one for the Queen Mary 2. the design in this version having taken inspiration from the real life ocean liner.
    • Robert is a mix of Lt. Rogo (New York resident) and Reverend Scott (pulls a Heroic Sacrifice) from the original film.
    • Richard isn't at all similar to Manny, but they are both the eldest males of the group in their respective films.
    • Connor to Robin, being the youngest of the group who develops a friendship with the leader.
    • Elena is one to Nonnie, being a sensitive woman who is terrified in some situations, and is close to an older guy who is protective of her. Unlike Nonnie, Elena dies.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Realizing that there's no escape, Captain Bradford and Gloria tearfully embrace as the ballroom floods, accepting their fate drowning in sea.
  • Fanservice: Did you see down Emmy Rossum's shirt? Again and again and again? Every opportunity they could show it?
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: The rogue wave.
  • Going Down with the Ship: Captain Bradford, though it's not like there was a choice in the matter.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Gay?: The only reason we know Richard is gay is because he tells his friends about his breakup with another man.
  • Heroic BSoD: Dylan, when he realizes the ship's tilting the other way than he thought it was.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Robert drowns while attempting to shut off the ship's propellers, but he does manage to reverse the engines, creating suction and allowing the others to jam them instead.
  • History Repeats: According to promotional material, the Poseidon is on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, possessing the name of a sea god from Classical Mythology (which is considered a Blasphemous Boast by sailors). In the middle of the Atlantic, the ship is met with sudden disaster resulting in massive loss of life. Thinking about a certain other ship yet?
    • If anything, it's history repeating and being even worse the second time around. At least the Titanic had an estimated 700 survivors (out of 2,224 onboard people), since she went down by the head gradually as opposed to getting capsized. Assuming the Poseidon has roughly the same maximum capacity as her visual basis, the Queen Mary 2, and is carrying a full load of passengers and crew, that means we're talking about roughly some 3,800+ people... with a total survivor count of six.
  • Idiot Ball: Dylan allowing Elena to be the last person to swim through the flooded corridors, even when he explicitly made it a point not to do this earlier in the vents due to her claustrophobia. Unsurprisingly, she dies. What could have possessed him to forget about such a vital fact about Elena is a really good question.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Valentin, in a particularly gruesome example.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Richard is preparing to leap to his death from the deck of the ship when he sees the wave coming and retreats back inside.
  • Irony: Early in the film Richard is depressed over a recent breakup and contemplates suicide before seeing the wave and deciding he wants to live. Guess who is one of the six survivors at the end?
  • Jerkass: Lucky Larry is an obnoxious drunk asshole who antagonizes Robert at the most inopportune time, including throwing his wife's death in his face.
  • The Load: Connor has a habit of wandering off on his own, which gets him into trouble near the end of the film.
  • Made of Explodium: At least somewhat justified: the ship has an ample supply of natural gas for cooking and other purposes, and that goes boom quite nicely once it breaks out of its plumbing. At the end, the protagonists throw a tank of acetylene into the bow thruster, which explodes spectacularly and takes the engine out.
  • Mauve Shirt: Valentin, Lucky Larry, and Captain Bradford all get some sufficient dialogue and character traits before being killed off.
  • Middle-of-Nowhere Street: What ocean they are in, where they embarked from, where the ship was supposed to let off afterwards - completely unimportant to the plot and not mentioned. All we know is it's far enough from shore to have a sizable rogue wave, the captain says at most they are a few hours from rescue, and it's cold outside.
  • New Year Has Come: And it came in with a helluva bang, courtesy of Mother Nature.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Robert's desperate plan to flood the ballast tanks does get them out of that dead end, but destabilizes the ship and starts it sinking in earnest.
  • No Antagonist: The bad events in the film are caused by a rogue wave capsizing the boat, and there are no human antagonists.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Valentin is nice enough to let Richard go first in the infamous elevator scene. Sadly, when their makeshift bridge falls, he is left clinging to Richard's leg and Richard kicks him down, otherwise they would have both died. The worst part if that this could have been easily avoided in multiple ways, such as Maggie helping Robert and Dylan to get them up or them suggesting Valentin to climb Richard and help them to save him. If that wasn't enough, aside from Richard, everyone forgets about Valentin almost immediately.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Averted in that there are plenty of maps on the walls which the characters find very useful - though a little too averted when even in upside-down rooms the maps are at eye-level.
  • Ominous Crack: Before the ballroom goes.
  • One-Word Title: Vehicle Title-type. It's a ship, named after the Classical Mythology god of the sea.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Christian spends the first part of the movie with his leg pinned. Once he's out he has a nasty gash that needs to be treated. Doesn't stop him from running and swimming at all.
  • Pet the Dog: Lucky Larry helps Jennifer and Elena to free Christian from under a girder. It's pretty much the only good thing he does in the movie.
  • Preserve Your Gays: Richard is the only gay character on board the cruise to be one of the six survivors by the end.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Captain Bradford does his best to keep the passengers calm after the ship capsizes, pointing out that emergency beacons have been activated, and that the ballroom is essentially a giant air bubble. While he does warn Robert about trying to make his way through the ship, he doesn't try to stop him and the others when they leave.
  • Rising Water, Rising Tension: As if the survivors didn't have enough to deal with already.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Robert is the last to die and performs a Heroic Sacrifice to guarantee the others a shot at escaping.
  • See Water: Very obvious in the flooded-passage scene, when they use flashlights to check one another's progress and avoid obstacles.
  • Shout-Out: The eerie shot of the ship sinking beneath the waves, disappearing into the gloomy depths of the ocean, is very similar to the final shot of the Andrea Gail in The Perfect Storm. Understandable, as the films share a director.
  • Sinking Ship Scenario: And like the original, the sinking ship is uʍop ǝpısdn!
  • Soft Water: When the survivors leap off the side of the ship at the end.
  • Straight Gay: Richard. Not until he reveals to his friends that "he met someone else" do we get any indication that he's homosexual.
  • Super Cell Reception: Richard has a cell phone signal out in the middle of the ocean. Possibly justified; equipping a cruise ship with a "pico-cell"note  is quite possible at the time the film was made. His roaming charges were probably astronomical, though.
  • This Is Not a Drill: Spoken on the PA shortly before the wave hits.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Connor keeps wandering off on his own, which gets him into trouble near the end, and endangers two other survivors when they come looking for him.