Ghost Ship Review

Ghost Ship – 2002 

Intro:  A salvage crew heads out to sea at the behest of a mysterious stranger in search of an abandoned ocean liner.  The ship is found but there is more to it then merely being adrift for 40 years.  Gold, ghosts and gore.

Tags: Clearly this is a horror movie.  Enough said

Salvagers & Apparitions:  Gabriel Byrne, Julianna Margulies, Ron Eldard, Desmond Harrington, Isaiah Washington, Karl Urban, Emily Browning.  Nice rundown of actors.  Up first, Gabriel Byrne.  I first saw him in Gothic playing Lord Byron and then in The Usual Suspects.  He is a wonderful actor who has played many interesting characters.  In this film he is Captain Sean Murphy and sadly, this is not one of the interesting ones but the man works with what he has and does a fine job. Julianna Margulies…ER is of course the first thing that pops into my head, leading right into Ron Eldard also from ER.  Marguiles plays Maureen Epps, the main character and she is good as the only woman among a ship of men.  She is level-headed even when she is the first to see a ghost.  Her character is likable and she portrays a strong female lead very well.  Ron Eldard plays Dodge…nothing really significant about his character or his performance.  Emily Browning from Sucker Punch appears as Katie, the ghost girl leading Margulies to the truth about what happened on the ship that disappeared in 1962.  She portrays a ghost well but nothing really stands out about her or Isaiah Washington.  He plays Greer, an ex-navy man who tries to do the right thing and protect the crew but bows to Murphy’s authority and helps to plunge them all to a dire fate.  Rounding out the crew as Munder is the brilliant and beautiful (in a manly way) Karl Urban from The Two Towers, Star Trek, Priest and Red.  In this movie he is a rough around the edges,scruffy underwater spot welder.  His character is brutish but he balances this with moments of seriousness and intelligence.  Beautiful man, even grungy and long-haired but I digress.  The final notable character is Jack Ferriman played by Desmond Harrington – Dexter, Rescue Me.  Harrington is good as the outsider to the close-knit salvage crew.  He is out of place among them as he tries to fit in but when he turns from the awkward Jack to the deadly and soul thirsty Ferriman, Harrington shines.

The Flick:  Captain Murphy (Byrne) and his crew of misfits are cut in on a deal by aerial photographer Jack Ferriman (Harrington) to salvage a large ocean liner adrift at sea.  Of course if it was that cut and dry, there is no movie.  The Italian ocean liner, the Antonia Graza, has been missing for 40 years and is called a ghost ship; a phenomenon familiar to the seasoned Captain Murphy.  Against the better judgement of some of his crew, namely Greer (Washington) Murphy and the crew board the ship and pursue the difficult mission of bringing the liner back to… wherever their base of operations is, Anchorage I believe.  Where Greer is vocal about his reservations, Epps (Marguiles), Dodge (Eldard) and Munder (Urban) go along with Murphy even though the viewer can see that they aren’t in full support of the reckless mission.  So, they enter the ship and things start to go wrong with ghosts appearing, bloated fresh corpses popping up, bullet casings in an empty pool and the discovery of crates of untraceable gold.  Too good to be true?  It’s a horror movie, of course it all goes bad.  One by one the crew begins to die off before anyone can figure what is happening.  When the truth about the ship comes out, it’s too late and there is no one left except for 2 of the crew and the evil figure that has sucked them in and many more before them.  Charon is the ferryman who ferried souls across the river Styx to the underworld.  Ferriman-Ferryman….yeah you get it. The film is well-directed, the acting is great of course with this list of wonderful actors, the story is…ok, not great but ok.  While the actors are good, the characters are not really well-developed.  I think that they could have had fewer characters and in turn would have been able to flesh out a few of them better, such as Epps and Murphy.  The character of Dodge seems unnecessary and could have been cut out.  Is the flick scary…not really.  One of the best scenes in the movie is when the ghost girl Katie takes Epps into the past and the night that the Graza disappeared.  The music cut with the scenes of violence and death is well done.  And that’s where the movie hits but it misses on other points with some flat and unnecessary characters and a rather weak plot.

Critique Much:  This movie was not well reviewed and did not perform well when it was released. On Rotten Tomatoes it is sitting at 13% rotten, ouch.  I can see why but with many horror movies, I believe that the viewer should read reviews, check the trailers and then decide whether or not to see the flick in order to make a judgement call on whether or not it is good.  This is easier to do with older movies like Ghost Ship which are cheap to rent (if you can find a video store) or may even be found on Netflix or Youtube movies.

Why would I recommend this movie?  Poorly reviewed, weak plot, flat characters, why would I recommend this movie.  It’s a horror movie called Ghost Ship, it’s cheesy, it’s a B-movie and the cast works with the weak plot and lack of character development. It’s just a good/bad fun movie that you can’t take seriously but is entertaining.  The directing and imagery is great and this coupled with the actors makes it worth watching.

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