Poseidon Adventure (1972) PG
From IMDB: A passenger ship, on her way to the scrap yard is pushed to her limits by the new owners to save on the dismantling fees. A tidal wave hits her, flipping her over so that all the internal rooms are upside down. A priest takes a mixed band of survivors on a journey through the bowels of the ship in an attempt to survive
I will always love this movie. So many films, and even tv shows (Dr Who, I’m looking at you), have recycled this narrative format to varying results and receptions. However, nothing, not even Sly Stallone’s Daylight (1996), will take the place of the Gene Hackman fronted disaster movie.
What perhaps works so well about Poseidon Adventure is that at its heart is its characters; a priest, young siblings, a couple who boost each other and encourage themselves to continue and a reformed prostitute with her arresting officer turned loving husband.
The film’s simplicity does not rely on special effects to drawn us in and make us feel the peril, but instead it gives you time to get to know the ensemble, their fears and their motivations for survival.
When the boat tips, rendering the passengers trapped as the water threatens to drown every living person on board, you feel for the characters you have gotten to know. The only solution is to get to the engine room, which is now at the top of the capsized vessel. As with many subsequent disaster movies, the people are reduced in number as people of authority disagree about the best course of action.
The plot progresses, the survivors a met with challenges that some don’t survive. It’s not always the ones you suspect either, which is refreshing. Especially as we get into the final act and our protagonist bravely gives his life. It’s a brave move for a Hollywood movie; all the remakes have this archetype survive. You don’t see it coming and the sacrifice is sincere.
While some things may not have aged as well, it can all be overlooked on that sleepy Sunday afternoon when you want a blockbuster with heart, modesty and a plot a little closer to reality.
Watch if you like:
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)