The plot? Umm, it’s about the title capsized cruise liner, and a few survivors who refuse to wait for help to come to them, and decide to rescue themselves. Kurt Russell is a former NY mayor and former NY fire-fighter (but you can call him Captain America) who is overly protective of daughter Emmy Rossum who in turn is dating Mike Vogel, much to Russell’s chagrin. Aussie Jacinda Barrett plays a single MILF (well, that’s really what she plays), travelling with son Jimmy Bennett. Richard Dreyfuss is a suicidal gay architect who thinks of going overboard before he sees a giant wave heading for the ship. Andre Braugher gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop as the pig-headed captain who wants everyone to stay put. Kevin Dillon plays a gambler named Lucky Larry, but that’s about it for his character’s development. Perhaps the most prominent character is Josh Lucas’s professional gambler, who turns reluctant hero when he takes a shine to Barrett and her kid. That’s Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie as the cruise singer, who instead of singing the godawful ‘Morning After’, decides to sing some even more lame-arse R&B number. I couldn’t wait for that damn wave to hit. Also on board are an Hispanic busboy (Freddy Rodriguez) and the cute stowaway (Mia Maestro) he’s attempting to hide.
Disappointing, strictly by-the-numbers 2006 remake of the classic (and genuinely entertaining) 70s disaster flick, is admittedly well-helmed by reliable director Wolfgang Petersen (“The Perfect Storm”, and the imaginative fantasy “The NeverEnding Story”). Unfortunately, by quickening the pace, beefing up the action and lessening the character development, the film never gives us anyone or anything to connect with. The original was full of caricatures, but these guys aren’t even on that level, and aside from sturdy Russell and Oscar-winner Dreyfuss, there are no ‘stars’ in sight. Lucas, Rossum, Dillon, and Barrett may all be solid actors (Lucas and Rossum especially), but none are compelling enough to make up for the depth lacking in their characters. As for Dreyfuss, he is a favourite actor of mine, but sadly hasn’t much to do here. co-star Russell joked on “The View” that he has the Shelley Winters role, but really, it’s more the Red Buttons role, with Buttons being one of my faves from the original. Dreyfuss gets much less to work with than Buttons did, though.
The action is mostly terrific and occasionally horrifyingly real, but that’s the only plus in this merely tolerable remake. Mind you, unlike the TV remake (with Rutger Hauer, Steve Guttenberg and Adam Baldwin leading the ‘stellar’ cast), there are no terrorists in sight here, so that’s a plus, and there is at least one terrific death scene where one character is forced to save themselves at the expense of someone else. It was really well-done and for me, quite unexpected. Screenplay by Mark Protosevich (the good-looking but awful Jennifer Lopez serial killer flick “The Cell”), allegedly based on Paul Gallico’s novel, features characters who are composites of characters from the original film, but only a few.