A well put together DVD that is not only timely in it's release but pulls no punches in showing how the film achieved it's look and style.
The sheer scale and scope of The Poseidon Adventure is something that is marvelous to witness even by today's standards. In fact, when you consider how much practical effects were employed in this movie, one can only wonder what Warner Bros. upcoming film Poseidon will do to top it. It must seem weird to ask this but can the new version top it? I am dubious on that front but after seeing the original Poseidon Adventure, I am actually even more excited to see this new incarnation that will be hitting theaters shortly.
The Poseidon Adventure is a disaster film that pulls no punches. A cruise ship is capsized by a large wave and only a small group of people survive the effects of that (or so it seems). As they make their way out from under the ship, all their skills and resources will be put to the test as they fight nature and technology to survive. Led by the inimitable Gene Hackman, why these movies work so well is because there is no star. No character is too sacred to be killed off which ends up giving these movie a reality all it's own.
Two separate commentary tracks come on this disc. One is with director Ronald Neame and the other is with the actors Pamela Sue Martin, Stella Stevens and Carol Lynley. Depending on your interest in the movie and your preference for fun or serious commentary tracks, I would recommend listening to both of these. One could actually start the movie listening to Ronald Neame and then finish it up with the actors on the film. Where Neame is offering more of a technical discourse on the movie, the actors seem to just be enjoying the opportunity to talk about it.
Follow The Escape
While I am not really a big fan of these kinds of things, mainly because if you haven't seen the movie before they can take you out of the experience, I think this feature will make fans very happy. As you watch the film a ship appears on the screen and that allows viewers to see 3D "views and schematics of the ship" itself. Essentially, it lets you know exactly where the characters are on the Poseidon and it lets you know more about what went into that specific scene composition.
Once again, the people behind bringing this Irwin Allen production to a Special Edition DVD have given us 9 featurettes covering all aspects of the film. With titles like "Falling Up With Ernie" and "Sinking Corridor," these featurettes cover all the monumental moments and people that make up this film. What is the most impressive about all these featurettes (in my opinion) is the lack of redundancy that these supplemental features seem to have.
AMC Backstory: The Poseidon Adventure
Having first come to these AMC Backstory pieces via one for M.A.S.H. in the Robert Altman Collection, I was once again excited to be given a history lesson on this film's production. As this featurette isn't the typical "puff piece" that most movies have, we get to find out a lot of interesting behind the scenes tidbits that we might otherwise never have known about (ie. how much of a struggle it was for everyone involved to get this movie made).
Storyboard to Film Comparisons
As I mentioned in my Towering Inferno review, these comparisons are done a lot better than how we usually get them. For example, oftentimes they will run the scene and storyboards simultaneously so that we will have to watch the clip a few times in order to get the full idea of how the scene did or didn't follow what was drawn. Here, everything is blended together in one piece so that we can see just how the scenes followed the drawings (or not).
Interactive Articles from American Cinematographer Magazine
Once again, I am baffled why articles on the production of this film are on here. Perhaps if one was going to watch the DVD on their computer, I could certainly see why they might then read these articles. However, DVDs in your CPU are usually interlaced in such a way that the image is a bit fuzzy. Who wants to read fuzzy type especially for articles as in-depth as those in American Cinematographer Magazine?
Still Photo Galleries
These galleries are made up of photos covering marketing, publicity and Behind-the-Scenes pictures. From just a purely historical standpoint I loved looking at these pictures. I just think candid shots of this nature are so interesting (especially for these films), because who knew how valuable they would end up being for things like DVDs today?
Vintage Promo Materials
Again, the contents of this section contains some more hidden featurettes, trailers as well as an interesting and thoughtful conversation with Harold Neame. He discusses the "Sinking Corridor", the films "Generations of Fans" and what everyone wants to know, "Turning Over the Ship."
2.35:1 - Anamorphic Widescreen. Everything about this movie is big. It isn't done for the sake of artifice, this is just one of those movies that can get away with such extravagance. A big reason why I feel like this movie works is because it turns the whole idea of a cruise ship upside down. It takes something that seems so pristine and just wrecks that image completely. On top of that, it also shows how man vs. nature really wouldn't be a battle at all.
Dolby Digital - English - Stereo. Spanish and French Mono. Close Captioned. Subtitled in English and Spanish. I really should have watched this on a surround sound system. It isn't like I thought this movie had this huge, daunting sound design, but I could certainly see how utilizing a better system might have made what was already a great experience that much greater. For those people reading this with home theater systems (or even halfway decent systems), I would highly recommend picking this two disc Special Edition up.
The front cover box of The Poseidon Adventure DVD features absolute chaos. People hang from tables and are falling all over the place as our main characters scramble around as well. The back features some shots of our main cast, a description of the film, a "Special Features" listing and some technical specs all laid out in front of a picture of the Poseidon upside down and a very black sea. The regular DVD looks exactly the same except I think they used the original poster from the film on the DVD case as it says the words, Hell, Upside Down across it.
A movie like The Poseidon Adventure almost needs to be remade. Not because of any technical flaws or even to show technological advancements, but because I think we need to be reminded just how precious and fragile our lives are. Disaster movies have a way of drawing us in and because they are set in our times, they give us a perspective to ask questions. We see films like this and we want to believe we would act more like Gene Hackman than Ernest Borgnine. That under the worst of situations the best part of our human nature would come out. A film like this reminds us that this is how we should act even when it seems like we can't.
The Poseidon Adventure is a top notch DVD that belongs in any collection.
The Poseidon Adventure was released December 13, 1972.