Throwback Thursday: 'Lost Voyage' (2002)

There are a surprising amount of people out there who are intrigued with things that come back from the ocean. By that, I mean wreckage pulled up from the bottom of the ocean, sea floor exploration, or modern day ships that travel years of time through the open sea. So it’s no wonder that the location known as The Bermuda Triangle has sparked peoples’ attention and imagination for years.

The 2002 film ‘Lost Voyage’ is a movie that calls to the very mystery surrounding that oh-so-infamous stretch of wicked ocean. The film is unquestioningly a “guilty pleasure” type of story; certainly not the best “ghost on the water story’ ever made, but one that has some entertaining material that I can still appreciate.

In the film, the SS Corona Queen – a cruise ship carrying hundreds of vacationing guests and working staff – goes missing for over twenty years. When it suddenly reappears, the press, along with a now-grown man who lost his family aboard the vessel on their honeymoon when he was a child, have a chance to answer their burning questions about what happened aboard the ill-fated voyage.

The Steam Ship (SS) Corona Queen… that just has a great ring to it. Despite some drawbacks in some of the special-effect elements and some flaws in some performances, this is a truly entertaining film if given a chance to get going. It’s not one that might ever be classified as a “top ten favorite film,” but there are definitely gems within it worth the viewing – the banter between the exploratory team being one such jewel. I inevitably grin every time the “firing scene” between Lance Henriksen and Jeff Kober plays out, for instance. They really seemed to be enjoying the insults they threw at each other. It was great.

In real life, ships do disappear. They sink, usually. But what happens when one shows up again out of the blue? It does happen, on occasion (one such case involved a Japanese squid fishing boat arriving on the Canadian coastline in 2012, months after the 2011 Japan tsunami). Even the movie itself mentions the very true case of the Mary Celeste – an American merchant ship, discovered in 1872 with all the signs of life, but no one aboard. The “ghost story” itself relies solely on your beliefs as a moviegoer. Do you believe in ghosts and apparitions? When speaking of the “realistic” aspects of movies, it’s glaringly apparent that this film was made for entertainment purposes, so you do have to take what you don’t believe in with a grain of salt.

Some of my favorite moments of the film come from Henriksen, Kober, and Mark Sheppard. Henriksen, of course, we know from ‘Aliens,’ among other genre films. Kober you may not know, but he won me over completely in the role of Bear in an episode of The X-Files known as “Ice.” I’ve been a fan of Sheppard’s ever since Firefly, but he’s a man who tends to pop up everywhere. Oddly enough, he was on The X-Files the same year that “Ice” premiered, in an episode called “Fire.” Further irony that Henriksen was also in The X-Files and a later spin-off series called Millennium. (Hint: go watch that TV show for great entertainment.) Getting back to this film: while I liked the role Judd Nelson played, I felt as though maybe he wasn’t quite as passionate about it as he could have been, and also that perhaps the female cast wasn’t quite as strong. The story really didn’t bring anything new to the table, then or now. It’s simplistic and the character archetypes are predictable and fairly run of the mill.

When you’re dealing with a made-for-TV film such as this, you can expect some interesting effects when it comes time to communicate supernatural elements. You won’t find any mind-blowing creations here (unless this is your first ever ghost story movie in your life), but there are some that do work fairly well on a low budget. I must admit that I was not a fan of the super high-contrast shots that took place in the first ten minutes. The ugly introduction could, at any point in time, stand to break a viewer’s decision about watching the rest of it from that point forward. Rest assured, the hideous view does go away.

As far as ocean-faring ghost movies go, ones like ‘Below’ and ‘Ghost Ship’ are superior to ‘Lost Voyage,’ but the film has a charm about it that does deserve some recognition. If you get a chance to watch it, I recommend seeing it with the expectations of knowing it was made for TV and it does have some flaws, but overall is an entertaining ninety-six minutes.