Poseidon Adventure, The

Disastrous New Year’s Eve

Main Cast: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Stella Stevens

Director: Ronald Neame

220px-PoseidonAdventurePlot Summary: The luxury ocean liner “Poseidon” is overtaken by a massive wave on New Year’s Eve, flipping the ship over. With most of the crew dead, the survivors must fight for survival. A small group tries to get to the engine room and safety.

One of the first of the disaster series, this now campy feature was quite serious at the time with its message about loss and salvation. This message lies underneath the obvious disaster elements, where a group of widely different personalities gather together in order to survive. Led by a priest, they slowly make their way through the ship. He is no ordinary priest: doubtful, blunt, and willing to yell angrily, he still cares deeply about people and does try to save as many as he can. But throughout the film he runs into suspicion and ignorance, where those that should take his advice don’t and die. Within the small group is another strong character, a cop who also likes to shout angrily. They clash constantly despite the immediate danger.

The plot doesn’t stop once the ship does turn over, but there at least is a gesture toward character development before disaster strikes. We meet the characters and get an idea of how they will react during the bad times ahead. Of course, one of the fun things about these types of movies is to figure out who is going to get the axe, and when. Usually it’s to propel the plot forward, or wring some emotion from the viewers.

The characters are one-dimensional and only there to hold a few personality traits. The meat of the movie is on the action, where each obstacle must be overcome. In this the movie succeeds, and the effects, while dated now, work within the structure of the time and aren’t obviously bad.

Whether you like this movie depends on your feelings on the disaster genre. This is pretty good as these things go, keeping the suspense high and the action believable.

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