There is something terribly wrong with Poseidon – more than the fact that they are remaking “The Poseidon Adventure.” Rather than merely tell you what is wrong with the Poseidon, I am going to provide you with some images from the trailer – and I’m going to let you see if you can identify what is wrong here.

Poseidon all alone... Woops here comes a

Scanning the horizon, he sees it – a Rogue Wave; a monstrous wall of water over one hundred feet high, bearing down on them with tremendous speed. He tries to steer the ship away from maximum impact but it’s too late.

Quote taken from the synopsis on their website.
(I would link to their movie website, but I don’t want to indirectly encourage them… now that I’m a big deal I need to be responsible with my linking.)

The wave strikes with colossal force, pitching the ship heavily to port before rolling it completely upside down. Passengers and crew are thrown into free fall, crushed by debris or dragged into the sea as water bursts in through shattered windows. Supports collapse, broken gas lines ignite flash fires and lights fail, leaving vast sections of the ship in darkness and chaos.

Hint: One major thing is in these images. Click for bigger versions.
The wave a comethPoseidon and the wavePoseidon and the big wave

34 Comments to “Name-That-Major-Wrong Contest: Poseidon”

  1. brian says:

    Are there really such things as “Rouge Waves”?

  2. Pace says:

    After hours of thinking about it I realized there were TWO things wrong Ryan. Great post!

  3. I just must be dumb. I don’t see it. Maybe I just need to think about it for hours like Pace did.

  4. I just must be dumb. I don’t see it. Maybe I just need to think about it for hours like Pace did.

    Wait…I think I know what might be wrong…but I don’t think you can tell from these pics.

  5. Ryan Gardner says:

    After reading this some more, I realized that there are a ton of things wrong if you get nitpicky – but there is still one major wrong involved here.

    This is aside from the fact they are remaking a crapy boat movie from the 1970′s, and dropping the phrase “adventure” from the title.

    I know there are probably other things than the one glaring wrong that I noticed, hence this contest.

    Feel free to post your theories here… There are no “wrong” answers – well… you get what I mean.

    Oh, and one of the big mistakes I noticed (the big one that caused me to write this) – is definitely visible in the pictures I posted. (Not necessarily in all of the images, but at least in one of them…)

    (See this entryfor info on the original movie)

  6. Ryan Gardner says:

    Okay, since everybody has been kind of shy about posting things (probably don’t want to sound dumb) – I’m going to post a hint.

    To answer the question – yes, there are such things as “rogue waves” – but they are known as “freak waves” in the scientific community. They are an anomoly that’s not fully understood, but they do exist and have hit ships before. That being said – the synopsis capitalized “Rogue Wave” – making it a proper noun. By this I can only imagine that they are referring to the crappy band that you will find if you do a google search for “Rogue Wave”. I don’t know how the band could cause that much damage, but they must have. That’s a WRONG against the ENGLISH language there – but that’s not the major wrong I found…

    Hint: The biggest thing that is wrong with this is visible in the third picture where the curl of the wave is hitting the ship.

  7. Pace says:

    DUH- The wave crest is HITTING the top of the ship and if the wave is cresting at that leve, it’s not a big enough wave to flip over that huge ship. The wave would need to crest before the ship and catch it in it’s wake, OR be much much bigger of a wave.

    Plus the patio furniture on the decks are SO cheap looking, it would be a mistake to have those on such and expensive cruiser.

  8. Ryan Gardner says:

    Pace, that is an excellent point. It show that they were wrong in depicting the “freak wave” hitting the boat… but there is more to it than that.

    To get at the heart of why this scene is incredibly wrong, think about where people surf and why they surf there.

    More importantly, why are there no helicopter companies dropping extreme surfers off in the deep ocean to surf?

    Hmm… Ponder ponder… And maybe read up on ocean waves at the wikipedia…

    You are close – but there is more wrong than just that…

  9. Ryan Gardner says:

    One other thing that might be wrong – I dont’ feel like watching the trailer to confirm it or not – is that they say it “pitches them to port”

    (port is the left side of the ship when looking towards the front. You can remember that by remembering that “port” has four letters – as does “left” – whereas “starboard” has a lot more letters than that – as does “right”)

    The second image shows the ship pitching to port – but I think that they were panning from the back to the front when they showed those waves pouring over it (in the third image) – which would mean that they were showing it pitching starboard in the scene with the breaking wave. I might be wrong… If someone wants to get a free point in this contest – they can confirm or deny that possible error.

  10. Ryan, ok…so now I realize that we’re not really trying to be secretive of our ideas here so I’ll just say what I have thought thus far. For starters, I thought that you were attempting to show that the boat was pitching to starboard instead of port which is what I was referring to in my first post. It’s hard to tell from the pictures which way they actually are trying to go.

    Another thing, which i think is what you were getting at in your comment about the “deep ocean” is that the whole reason waves “break” has got something to do with the bottom of the wave (the part under the water) hitting the approaching seabottom…that’s why waves break as they approach land. So….the Poseidon would need to be close to land in order for the wave to break onto them.

    I think in one of the general conference talks someone talked about the Moken people and how they knew the wave was coming and they went into deeper water (cause they were already too far away from the land to get there befor it hit) They were safer in deep water than they were close to land.

  11. Ryan Gardner says:

    Yes, Yancy – you are correct. The wave would NOT break like that. The trailer shows a big (non-breaking) wave coming toward them. The wave would not suddenly start to break when it hit them.

    Waves don’t break in the deep ocean. When waves move – the water stays in the same place and the energy moves. That’s why when surfers paddle out into the ocean they wait for a big swell and then move in to get on that one when it breaks. They stay out there and bob up and down waiting…

    The likely thing that would have happened would be that the ship – hit broadside – would have capsized immediately as the starboard edge was hit by a wall of water directing it upwards while the port side has no force acting on it… The capsized ship would be lifted up to the top of the wave, and then be dropped like a rock when the wave passed.

    The Queen Mary (a big ocean liner) was hit by a freak wave and came very very close to capsisizing when it was transporting troops to Europe durring World War II. I doubt that the wave was as big as the one they are showing here, though.

    For a wave to be a “freak wave” it merely has to be more than 2.2 times higher than every way before or after it in the grouping. So in 1 foot sees, a single 3 foot wave would be a “freak wave” – but it wouldn’t be as scary.

  12. Paul Cuff says:

    Ryan, sorry that I didn’t respond to this question of yours soon enough to sound smart. I started writing, took a break, then Larisa switched pages on me, so I’m starting over.

    I agree, waves usually break when the ocean floor becomes shallow enough. It’s kind of like the ocean floor slows the wave down and causes it to curl. In fact, the wavelength also usually shortens when this happens, which compresses the energy of the wave. I think waves break when the bottom is roughly as deep as the wave is tall. Obviously this would not be the case in deep water.

    When I saw this preview I was similarly disturbed. I could tell that this movie was just a bunch of physics tragedies waiting to happen.

    As far a extreme surfing is concerned, you can find some here in the Bay Area. I’m not sure about the helicopters, but there are some 40 foot waves quite a ways out off the beach. But as Ryan is trying to emphasize, the only reason the waves break out there for surfing is because there are sand mounds under the water that cause the ocean swells to break.

    I learned something interesting about tsunamis recently. I used to wonder how such a huge wave looks as its traveling across the ocean and how it doesn’t loose all of its energy as it spreads out and travels. It turns out that tsunamis are actually waves of pressure that extend all the way to the ocean floor (even in deep water). You would not notice a tsunami away from the shore for several reasons. First of all, it will probably be only a couple of feet tall, however since the waves energy is spread throughout such a depth it will still pack a punch in the end. In addition, the wavelength is on the order of kilometers. In other words, the wave is about as flat as the freeway. I thought that was pretty interesting. I guess it doesn’t lose much energy due to travelling because there really isn’t that much movement involved. Of course, it does lose a lot of intensity as it spreads out to a larger radius though.

  13. Ryan Gardner says:

    I was wondering when the Ph.D candidate would weigh in :)

    Although it doesn’t have anything to do with the actual propogation of the wave, prior to the Tsunami attacking land, the water level at the beach will receed far below the low tide level. (Yeah, I know it doesn’t “attack” – but it sounds funnier to say it that way). Obviously if a gigantic wave of water is about to come crashing into land, that water has to come from somewhere…

    That’s interesting about the Tsunami being such a low wave on the surface… That must make the things that dwell on the bottom of the ocean that are not used to feeling the effects of large waves get “sea sick”…

    Oh – one other interesting thing. Freak waves are thought now to be much more frequent than in the past. Current wave measuring techniques actually eliminate them from being considered in the dataset because it assumes a completely linear system.

    Freak waves are nonlinear – and they are modeling them using a modified version of the nonlinear Schroedinger equation (how they “modified it” I didn’t care to check out)

    It wasn’t until 1995 when a freak wave nailed an oil platform in the North Sea that scientists started to think that they might actually exist.

    If you want, Paul, I can edit the timestamp on your comment to make you look like a genius :)

  14. Paul Cuff says:

    Editing my timestamp could incriminate me as a dishonest showoff. Why don’t you just edit Yancy’s timestamp for me instead?

  15. Ryan Gardner says:

    Why would I need to do that? He posted his comment a while after you… ;)

    Wait a second – are you clairvoyant as well? No wonder you scored so high on all those secret government tests. (Woops, hope I didn’t blow your cover)

  16. Andrew says:

    True, such waves can’t occur in deep water, but add a seamount such as at Cortez Bank, and you can get something decent :-)


  17. Cosmic Log says:

    Big-wave science…

    Take one scary phenomenon, find the worst conceivable real-world scenario and scale it up a few notches ……

  18. RyeBrye says:

    Thanks to the MSNBC Cosmic log for the linkback… Your discussion on that site ( http://msnbc.telligentsystems......12/29.aspx ) hits on a lot of the science behind exactly how a rogue-wave might function.

    After digging around – I realized that there is a very real possibility that there could be rogue waves… I still contend that they wouldn’t break like that though… (Although my original contention was that they wouldn’t exist… so I guess I’m half-wrong to start with)

  19. Steve says:

    1. Is it safe to assume the captain has no warning of the wave? He would have ordered the helmsman to steer into it . . . 2. Waves don’t break like that in the open ocean.

  20. Dave says:

    Another thing that may be a problem. I believe in the original movie, the wave hit during a New Year’s Eve party, so presumably around midnight. But the shot of the approaching wave shows a full moon just above the wave, near the horizon. A full moon cannot be on the horizon at midnight, unless you’re inside the Arctic or Antarctic Circle.

  21. Joe Shnecks says:

    Not cheap furniture that looks like real nice teak.

  22. Ed says:

    There is a lot wrong with this movie, but that’s pretty much expected for this type of movie. It really wasn’t that bad.

    1-The Poseidon had no anchors. The entire ship is computer generated, and I guess they focused on the hull design and not the anchors.

    2-Rogue waves exist, but are the result of constructive interference between smaller (but still large) waves. The wave hit on a perfectly calm day… not a situation likely to result in a rogue wave.

    3-LOTS of fire, but very little smoke. OK, if there was too much smoke, you couldn’t see the action and it would be a boring movie.

    4-Too much power. Again, if the lights were completely off, the screen would be black and the movie would be boring.

    5-Helicopters can’t fly too far offshore…Perhaps they were launched from a ship?

    6-Bow thruster operation didn’t make sense. They would either be “blowing” to port or starboard, not inboard or outboard.

    7-Bow thrusters were activated by a joystick on the bridge that had to be held in position. Yet later at the end of the movie, they are operated by a button that stays in position.

    8-Air pockets in the ship would be under high-pressure. If an opening is made to the outside, there would be a great rush of air out. It would have blown them out of the bow thruster tubes.

    9-Balast tank operation didn’t makes sense. Why would you put the controls to flood the tank on the inside of it?

    10-The windows and doors above the hull itself are generally not watertight. So the ballroom would have flooded immediately.

    11-There should not have been an access port to the bow thruster tubes. Opening this door at anytime the boat was in the water would have resulted in flooding the compartment.

  23. gary says:

    Aside from the fakey vertical wall of water in the middle of nowhere: First picture shows a far off wave already begining to crest. Somehow it didn’t until it hits the boat way later.

  24. Johnny C says:

    Also, in the movie, the water was perfectly calm right before and after the wave struct the ship. It was like there was a single wave on the entire ocean with nothing before or after it. There seemed to be no wake from the first wave or dimishing waves of less intensity following it.

    I agree with most of what Ed said, with the exception of Number 4. Most emergency lights have battery backups to provide light in the case of electrical fires and blackouts. That would have provided light for several hours assuming they were destroyed in the ship turning over.

    Also, wouldn’t a ship sink bow first (like in the original movie) since the sloped front would have more weight from the steel of the hull over less surface area causing less bouyancy than the aft?

    I suppose it could sink differently, if the aft filled with water, but since there were no holes in the aft section of the hull, there would be no way for the air to escape until the ship twists or turns upright when finally sinking.

  25. PAQ says:

    Never see a remake of a bad movie. Your time can be better spent teaching pigs to sing.

  26. john says:

    In the first picture, the moon is just at the top of the wave and yet there is a moon glow (reflection) in the water all the way to the base of the wave. If the wave were reallly there, this water wo0uld be in the shadow of the wave.

  27. Mike says:

    A few other things wrong with the movie…

    1) When they are in the ballast tanks, they are at the bottom of the ship – which is now out of the water. But yet when they open the valves, water pours in. Where is this water coming from? By my estimation the inlets would be high and dry.

    2) Why would they design ballast tanks to automatically flood in succession? Since the purpose of the tanks is to add stability and correct the balance of the ship, I would imagine you would want more control of this activity.

    3) At least once, the characters open a hatch and simply step through it – and find themselves standing on something. What? The underside of a convenient balcony? What gets me is that they stepped through the door without even looking to see if there was anything to stand on first. For all they knew they could have been stepping into a cavernous place like the engine room where the “floor” is now fifty or sixty feet “down”.

    As a fan of the original, I have to say I was disappointed. In the original it was HARD getting through the ship. Things didn’t work… there wasn’t always a convenient place to stand or walk – and so on. With a track record including the fantastic Das Boot, I really expected a lot more attention to detail (and just plain avoidance of simple mistakes) from Wolfgang Petersen.

  28. Doug Richardson says:

    My wife and I had a heated discussion about the climatic scene where the survivors finally reach the propeller tube. I don’t understand the significance of Kurt Russell’s character reversing the propellers just before he drowned in the control room. This occurred after he found the “off” button broken. His last action is to reverse the direction of the propellers. I contend it would have made no difference. The survivors attempt to disable the propellers by having a large object – like the propane tank – sucked into one of them would have worked regardless of the direction of the propellers. Since these are stabilizing/movement propellers, they are desgined to move the ship sideways rather than forward or backward like the rear propellers. I also doubt they would have been able to open the hatch because of the air pressure building up in the compartment they were in. The movie would have us believe the direction of the propellers – port or starboard – caused the door to be blown into Richard Dreyfuss’ faced when he opened it and then suck everything out of the room once Kurt Russell heroically reversed the direction.

  29. alex says:

    um, the tank was an oxygen tank, and the direction of air would matter under the circumstances. originally, the air was blowing inward… so if they put the “propane” tank into the tube, then one) they wouldn’t've been able to put it in, and two) if they did manage it in, the air pressure would’ve held the tank against the outside of the compartment (the part that would normaly be exposed to water.

  30. Doug Richardson says:

    Alex, okay an oxygen tank, not a propane tank. My point is if the air from the tube was originally blowing in, why would reversing the stabilizer props cause the air to be sucked into the tube rather than out? The stabilizer props work in tandem, one pulls water or, in the movie, air, into the tube, the other pushes it out. Reversing the props would have the same effect only in the opposite direction within the tube. I don’t see how changing the direction of air in the prop tube changes the direction of air through the hatch.

  31. Annie says:

    Besides the problem of the breaking wave, I was wondering about the reflection of moonlight on the ocean’s surface in the first frame. Wouldn’t the wave block the moonlight, causing a shadow in front of it so the horizon to be an eerie wider blackness despite the full moon? The shot looks as if the moon is merrily reflected on the ocean’s surface right to the foot of that wave.

  32. R.J. says:

    I don’t see anything wrong as mariners both past and present have witnessed waves over 200 feet high out of nowhere! Twice as big as this one.

    In fact, computer models have generated waves like this one!

  33. RyeBrye says:

    The problem is not the size of the wave. The problem is the wave is BREAKING. Waves only break when the underwater part of the wave hits something solid. That’s why waves break near a beach and not in the middle of the ocean

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