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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
  Subtitles
    Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • Teaser trailer
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Featurette - The Return of the Movie Movie

The Poseidon Adventure

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 112 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Okay, have we got a priest?
Check.
A cheeky and precocious kid?
Check.
The crabby New York cop?
Check.
An ex-hooker?
Check.
The requisite fat lady?
Check.
A haberdasher?
Umm - as you wish, Mr Allen - check.
Have we a suitably disaster-esque tagline in place?
Hell - upside down! - yep, sure looks like it.
Alright, we're all set then!

It was a dark and stormy night...

It's New Year's Eve, and the final voyage of the S.S. Poseidon is well underway, en route from New York to Athens with 1400 passengers on board celebrating away merrily. All isnít so well on the bridge, however, with news of a nearby sub-sea earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale. If this isnít enough to have The Captain (for this is how he is credited) concerned, he's being pressured by a representative of the shipping company to full steam ahead things as they are running three days behind, apparently due to a broken pump, leaving them with a lack of suitable ballast and making the ship rather top-heavy.

And so the set-up is complete. Now, cue a ninety-foot tidal wave hitting the starboard bow and over she goes - capsizing so that up is down and down is up - uh-oh, it looks like the Poseidon is a goner! Happy New Year indeed. Whilst a surviving steward implores people to stay put in the dining room, a take-charge priest (Gene Hackman) beseeches everybody to follow him in an attempt to climb up to the bottom of the ship in hopes of being rescued. Nine others heed his call, and the 'adventure' part of the title ensues as our heroes for the film battle all manner of wet and fiery obstacles in their quest for survival. Needless to say some are lost along the way, basically at the standard disaster film rate of approximately one per half hour - will those that donít succumb ever get to see a morning after?

"There's something different up there than there is from down here?"
"Yes, life..."

Ah, producer Irwin Allen - the undisputed Disaster Master. After some fabulously campy hit TV series' in the '60s, in particular Lost in Space and Land of the Giants, a new decade dawned, and he seemingly decided to up the ante and go for the calamity movie market jugular, of which The Poseidon Adventure, based on a rather sprawling novel by Paul Gallico, is regarded by many as the flagship. The mega-successful Towering Inferno followed, and then the snappy titles dried up so he simply went for the likes of Fire! and Flood! - brevity as an art form. The formula was simple - pick a disaster, any disaster, gather together a group of stereotypes played by fairly big names, have them battle against the odds for their lives, and lose a few along the way to keep the bums on seats - oh, and if you can throw in a hit song then all the better. And lo and behold it worked a treat! The Poseidon Adventure is as snappily an assembled example of such a movie as any of the veritable fleet of calamitous concoctions that hit '70s theatres, all buoyed by a fabulous cast who ham it up to just the right degree.

  Video
Contract

It's often the way - you expect a travesty, you get a surprise - and this is one such case. Whilst certainly not of the quality we have every right to expect of a newly released film to DVD, The Poseidon Adventure does scrub up pleasingly well. Presented in all its 2.35:1 anamorphic glory, this screen space being a particularly important factor for any disaster-type film, the print does exhibit some blemishes by way of flecks throughout (and a couple of fleeting, but still major blobby bits as well), and does have noticeable edge enhancement at times. It isnít overtly grainy though, is decently sharp with often surprising clarity in shadow detail, and the rusty colour palette used throughout is rendered quite spectacularly, with very little in the way of a washed-out appearance as is so common with many films of similar vintage.

Even the layer change whilst noticeable isn't too tragic - and is possibly the fastest navigated one I've yet to witness on a DVD. Fans of the film should be rapt with this visual presentation, as it's a great example of what a little love infused into the transfer process can achieve.

  Audio
Contract

Just donít mention the sound. Sadly this area was entirely ignored, with a stodgy mono mix that canít help but disappoint. This sort of film simply screams for a 5.1 treatment, so when confronted with a severely claustrophobic 'mix' that often distorts, and luckily has the storyline of being set at sea to help in masking much of the hiss that's present amongst the oceanic sounds you canít help but ask, "Why?". Dialogue is at least clear at most times, and well synched.

The soundtrack comes courtesy of some bloke named John Williams, and it's a wonderfully dramatic and often delightfully contradictory affair that suits the film ever, ever so well. The requisite hit single is here in the form of The Morning After, although it's credited in the film as The Song From The Poseidon Adventure. Call it what you wish, however it did garner the 'Best Song' gong at the Oscars, so it did its job admirally.

  Extras
Contract

There isnít a lot that's exciting here, although fans of older filmic fare will no doubt be well used to this by now. The menus are suitable nautically themed, and although static are still quite good, and they lead to a 'special features' section containingÖ

Featurette - The Return of the Movie Movie: Oh, what a shame this is just under ten-minutes in length, as it's quite fab! Presented as a behind the scenes report on the film in a non-anamorphic ratio of around 1.85:1, there's on-set footage, interviews with cast including Gene Hackman, Shelley Winters and the magnificent Leslie Nielsen (who I for one simply cannot take seriously since Flying High), all held together with some rather overly-dramatic narration from Paul Stewart. It isnít in exactly stellar shape, and is quite crackle-poppy, but it really would be disastrous for fans to miss this bonus feature.

Theatrical trailer: Really a 'coming soon' teaser, this is only one and a half minutes in duration, is also in a ratio of around 1.85:1 and whilst visually alright, the sound is pretty appalling. Featuring a curiously detached voiceover, it actually manages to make what is a very exciting film sound rather dull and ploddy. Still, these are always worth a look.

The Cast: Brief descriptions of many of the stars - Carol Lynley, Roddy McDowell, Shelley Winters, Red Buttons, Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine and Stella Stevens - accompanied by remarkably thorough filmographies that seem to cut off around 1999. Irwin Allen was obviously rather loyal to many of his cast here, as his works infest many of these filmic CV's much like the protagonists in The Swarm.

  Overall  
Contract

With the exception of the merely serviceable - and only just - sound (although purists will appreciate the authenticity of it - you too can relive the drive-in speaker experience!), fans should find enough in this disc to be happy about, with a pleasing visual presentation and a smidgeon more in the extras department than may have been expected.

The last time I saw The Poseidon Adventure was at the drive-in on first release (ahem, when I was VERY little, I may add), and only from where the ship capsized thanks to a klutzy stepfather who wasn't too good when it came to getting to places on time. Revisiting it all these years later was quite the experience - so much was still memorable, and gosh darn it if it isnít simply a fabulous almost two-hours of purely capsiz- erm, captivating entertainment! It even managed to pick up an Oscar for best visual effects, which just goes to show how far such things have advanced in less than 30 years - as some of those here, especially the establishing shots of the Poseidon (which looks suspiciously like the Queen Mary - hmm) are as cheesy as they come - it's only a model...


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      And I quote...
    "Gosh darn it if this icon of the disaster genre isnít simply a fabulous almost two-hours of purely capsiz- erm, captivating entertainment!"
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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