Sunday, January 17, 2016

1980 Week: Raise the Titanic

An idea in search of a plot—to say nothing of meaningful characters—the lavishly produced adventure film Raise the Titanic offers virtually nothing of interest beyond the spectacular sequence promised by the title. At one point during the film, enterprising scientists do indeed use explosives and giant balloons to draw the wreck of the H.M.S. Titanic to the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, an impressive visual brought to life by scale models, special effects, and a substitute vessel covered in decades of rust. (No real Titanic parts were harmed in the making of the picture.) Beyond these approximately 10 minutes of screen time, however, Raise the Titanic is a snooze. Based upon a novel by Clive Cussler, who disavowed the film because producer Sir Lew Grade employed a flotilla of screenwriters in the course of dramatically altering the storyline, Raise the Titanic revolves around the daft notion that a cache of secret weapons-grade minerals were stored aboard the famous “unsinkable” ship during its doomed maiden voyage. As viewers discover during endless dialogue scenes, myriad parties wish to recover the minerals because doing so would, in theory, change the balance of power in the Cold War. Giving the story a threadbare excuse for credibility, these various parties determine that the minerals cannot be salvaged from the ship because it rests too deep beneath the waves for divers or remote-controlled submersibles to enter. Had the filmmakers found a way to make the actual salvage mission the focus of the story, Raise the Titanic might have provided a few thrills. Instead, the film provides lots of dull intrigue on dry land and inside sea vessels before and after the titular event. Characters, complications, and motivations are forgettable and interchangeable. Grade must have written generous checks, however, because strong actors muddle their way through lifeless scenes: The cast includes Anne Archer, Alec Guinness, Richard Jordan, Jason Robards, David Selby, and M. Emmet Walsh. All play second fiddle to special effects, and not even John Barry’s glorious musical score is enough to lodge Raise the Titanic in the viewer’s imagination.

Raise the Titanic: LAME


Unknown said...

I remember reading the book back in the 70s (for some reason) and finding the movie to be really a disappointment. The book was pretty good for a Cussler novel! Lots of excitement and action. Just what a growing boy needs.

Xteve said...

I still have fond memories of this one, mostly due to me being a big Richard Jordan fan. It's an utterly preposterous film though.