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Friday, May 9, 2014

'Beyond the Poseidon Adventure' DVD: Trying to Salvage a Classic

Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979)
The fact that it is a disaster movie makes it very apt that the 1979 film "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure," which is a sequel to the 1972 uber-classic flick "The Poseidon Adventure," is a very rare dud in the Warner Archive library.

It is equally sad that this film comes from disaster film god Irwin Allen, who is the genius behind the original "Poseidon" and "The Towering Inferno." This is not to mention the classic scifi shows "Lost in Space," "Land of the Giants," "Time Tunnel," and "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea."

It seems that the fatal flaws of "Beyond" relate both to expectations that the original creates and Allen not better utilizing his obviously lower budget and less-talented cast in the sequel to go for camp, rather than trying to build suspense and drama.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the spoiler-dripping trailer for "Beyond" offers a look at the themes of this film.

The original "Poseidon" has an all-star cast trying to escape the luxury cruise ship that becomes their prison after completely capsizing.

The primary action in "Beyond" begins the "morning after" the flipping of the ship. Bankrupt tug-boat captain Mike Turner, played by Michael Caine, comes across the hull of the titular ship and sees salvaging the possessions of the wealthy passengers as the answer to his financial woes. He enlists his crew, played by Karl Malden and Sally Field, in his scheme.

Conflict soon arises in the form of Stefan Svevo, played by Telly Savalas, and his own crew. Turner and his gang soon learn that the purported humanitarian mission that brings Svevo to the ship is a pretense for pre-planned nefarious dealings.

The separate quests that motivate Turner and Svevo soon connect them with survivors who are still trapped in the ship. These include a ship's nurse, played by Shirley Jones, a WW II veteran and his daughter, respectively played by Peter Boyle and "Space" veteran Angela Cartwright, a stereotypical Texan played by Slim Pickens, and Veronica Hamel as a femme who experiences her own fatale.

This less-than-stellar cast is only one flawed aspect of "Beyond." Unlike the original, the audience does not get to know the characters before they commence their quest for survival. It is equally disappointing that these characters do not develop very fully once they enter the story.

Additionally, the sequel has unduly long scenes of the characters climbing from one level of the ship to another while predictable explosions, fires, and floods imperil them. Allen continues repeating this scenario long after it becomes tedious.

All of this culminates in a rather anti-climatic climax that further defies logic on several levels. This outcome simply does not hold water. (Of course, pun intended.)

The final log entry regarding this attempt at the very difficult task of matching the quality of the original is that it shows that both Allen and Archive can have off days. The better news is that virtually everything else that they provide far more than offsets this.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Beyond" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.