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A great special edition DVD, but not such a great adventure film
on 6 July 2006
The original The Poseidon Adventure isn't exactly a film so good that it couldn't stand remaking even if subsequent voyages on the large and small screen disappointed. The first half hour before the wave hits is like a very badly written episode of The Love Boat, with painfully on the nose dialogue ("What kind of priest are you?" "I'm a renegade! The very best kind!") and hideously stereotyped characters. In fact, truth to tell, it's a pretty pedestrian affair even after the ship goes bottom up: strip away its high concept and all you're really left with is a long, slow wade to the grave for some of the characters en route to the cheapest closing sequence ever fobbed off on an audience in a major studio picture. Aside from the odd bit of dialog about the importance of life in the face of death or Gene Hackman's occasional tirades about or against God that hint at someone striving for a big theme, there's not that much of Paul Gallico's original religious allegory left either (if memory serves, in the novel the Reverend Scott had 12 passengers following him on his path to martyrdom). Worse, some of the performances are just excruciating to watch (particularly Red Buttons) while Roddy McDowall's attempt at a Scottish accent is particularly painful. It has its moments, but far fewer than you'd think.
No complaints about Fox's special edition (be careful to order the right one, as Amazon has put these reviews under the 2-disc and single-disc editions) - a surprising commentary from Ronald Neame (who has never made any secret of his dislike for the film in the past), several featurettes, trailers and stills gallery - although it is irritating that Fox have inexplicably cropped the original 1972 making of featurette to 1.85:1 when it was originally fullframe.