Ghost Ship (2002)

Oh, “Ghost Ship.” How did this even happen? How do you take a concept so rife with potential, provide it with a strong cast and solid special effects, and end up spinning a tiresome yarn about corporate greed and international maritime law? This should just have been simple and to the point: A “Snakes on a Plane” of its own genre, if you will (it is, after all, called “Ghost Ship,” which is just about as direct a title as “Snakes on a Plane”), but instead there’s repetitive and uninteresting backstories for characters (both alive and otherwise) that we don’t care about, and a ton of unnecessary exposition that never pays off. It’s a damn shame too, because the movie has a habit of introducing really neat ideas (e.g. the opening scene, which suggests a much more inventive movie than what follows) and then overexplaining them to the point where you just stop caring. Luckily the cast is mostly good to go, with terrific talent like Karl Urban and Ron Eldard making the most of their underwritten roles, but the leads are a problem: Why would a director cast the reliably mediocre and forgettable Gabriel Byrne as lead protagonist when the much-better Julianna Margulies is right there, just waiting to kick some ass? Anyways, in the end this is a total missed opportunity that squanders a basic-but-fun premise with pretentions of grandeur with ho-hum results at best.

Rating: ★★ (out of 5)

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