The Poseidon Adventure appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, this was a pretty good image.
For the most part, sharpness came across well. Some wide shots appeared a little soft, but those concerns didn’t create substantial distractions, so the movie mainly looked pretty crisp and distinct.
No jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent. Source flaws also failed to appear.
Colors came across nicely. Skin tones appeared natural and all the other hues looked solid. The movie boasted a clear and tight palette, and the tones were vivid and vibrant across the board.
Black levels appeared deep and rich, while shadow detail worked well. For example, low-light shots on the bridge showed fine definition. I felt largely pleased with this transfer.
While not as strong as the visuals, the DTS-HD MA 4.0 soundtrack of The Poseidon Adventure seemed generally good, and the imaging felt positive for the most part. Directional speech cropped up on occasion, and they opened up matters in a decent manner.
Effects also blossomed to the sides in a fairly nice way, though the stereo presentation of the music was the most satisfying aspect of the soundfield. The score boasted good separation and delineation through much of the movie.
Audio quality generally was good, but those elements could show their age. Speech had some of the rougher moments.
Although the lines usually demonstrated acceptably natural qualities, they also suffered from bouts of edginess. The dialogue was erratic but stayed reliably intelligible.
Effects also had their ups and downs. I noticed occasional instances of distortion, as sometimes these elements became a bit shrill. However, they mostly seemed reasonably concise, and a few scenes boasted more than decent low-end.
The score was the most successful aspect of the track. While not tremendously robust, the music demonstrated good range and definition. This track remained pretty positive given its age.
How did the Blu-ray compare with the 2006 DVD? Audio felt a bit more robust, while visuals were tighter and more vivid. Though the DVD worked well for its format, the Blu-ray topped it.
Most of the 2006 DVD’s extras repeat here, and we open with two audio commentaries. The first comes from director Ronald Neame, as he offers a running, screen-specific piece. I enjoyed the chats with Neame that accompanied The Horse’s Mouth and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and the director offers another high-quality discussion here.
Neame gets into his role on the set, working with the actors and various related elements, pacing the movie and keeping the audience interested during the non-action segments. From there he discusses shooting on the Queen Mary and visual effects, cinematography and editing, stunts and logistical challenges, the script, budgetary issues, and a few other notes from the shoot.
Throughout the track, Neame proves nicely candid. He reveals that he didn’t think the movie would be a success, and he also relates a number of mistakes he feels he made.
I like that tone, as too many directors do little more than praise their work, but Neame stays away from generic happy talk. He even reveals that both he and Gene Hackman thought they were “slumming” with this flick.
Despite a few dead spots, the director remains consistently lively and informative in this very good commentary. It’s hard to believe he was well into his nineties when he recorded it.
For the second track, we hear from actors Pamela Sue Martin, Carol Lynley and Stella Stevens. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific chat. I like that fact but can’t claim this ever becomes a particularly strong commentary.
The actors discuss their casting, impressions of the other actors, working with Neame and producer Irwin Allen, and general aspects of the shoot such as dealing with all the technical issues and challenges. They also discuss what they like and dislike about the movie as well as speculate about the 2006 remake.
A reasonable number of nice observations appear, and it’s definitely fun to get the three women together again after all these years. However, the track sags more than a couple of times, and the piece lacks a wealth of strong information. This is an entertaining listen but not a great one.
Next we go to a documentary called Hollywood Backstories. It runs 25 minutes, nine seconds and offers notes from Neame, Stevens, costume designer Paul Zastupnevich, actress/Irwin Allen’s wife Sheila Matthews Allen, production designer William Creber, Irwin Allen’s assistant Al Gail, and actors Roddy McDowall, Ernest Borgnine and Red Buttons.
The show looks at producer Irwin Allen and his struggle to bring Poseidon to the big screen. We learn about the film’s adaptation, casting and choosing a director, problems with financing and studio opposition, shooting complications and stunt sequences, and set design and effects. We also hear about challenges that faced the actors, the film’s reception, and its legacy for those involved.
No one will mistake this show for a complete examination of the production, but “Backstories” gives us a decent overview. It touches into a number of issues not discussed in the commentaries, and it lets us see the various issues that confronted the shoot. I like the archival materials and think we get a nice glimpse of Poseidon here.
Six circa 2006 featurettes follow. The Cast Looks Back runs five minutes, 42 seconds, and includes notes from Sheila Allen, Buttons, Stevens, Lynley, Martin, and McDowall.
We hear some impressions of Irwin Allen, Neame and the various cast members as well as thoughts about the rigors of the shoot and the flick’s legacy. We’ve heard a fair amount of this information elsewhere, but a reasonable amount of new information appears here. The featurette ends up as a decent synopsis of some different issues.
In the four-minute, 10-second Falling Up with Ernie, we hear from actor Ernie Orsatti as he discusses his small role and his big stunt. This short piece offers a fun look at one of the movie’s most memorable sequences.
Information about The Writer: Stirling Silliphant fills nine minutes, 16 seconds. We get notes from Stevens, former agent Don Kopaloff, author David Morrell, author/story consultant Christopher Vogler, Towering Inferno production illustrators Nikita Knatz and Joseph Musso, Poseidon Adventure production illustrator Dan Goozee, and filmmaker Charles Matthau.
The program gets into Silliphant’s hyperactive work schedule as well as highlights of his career, his relationship with Irwin Allen and his adaptations, and his general demeanor and personality. While not a true overview, “Writer” touches on enough elements of Silliphant’s career to be valuable. I especially liked the look at Steve McQueen’s rewrite demands.
During the nine-minute, 53-second The Heroes of the Poseidon, we get remarks from Vogler, Morrell, Stevens, and professor of religion Christopher Heard. The program looks at the film’s connection to other literary works and its themes, metaphors and allusions.
These examine the flick’s situations and characters. Frankly, it seems like a bit of a stretch to see so much meaning in this popcorn flick, as you can find this sort of material in virtually anything if you try hard enough. Still, I don’t doubt that some of this was intentional, and “Heroes” provides some interesting interpretation.
Notes about the movie’s hit song appear in The Morning After Story. This nine-minute piece presents Lynley, songwriter Al Kasha, singer (single version) Maureen McGovern and singer (film version) Renee Armand.
We learn about the composition of “The Morning After”, the tune’s theme and its integration into the film, its recording and success. The show includes nice information about the tune along with some facts that surprised me; I never knew that McGovern didn’t do the take in the flick. I also like the parts that tell us how they tried to match the singing with Lynley’s speaking voice. This is a good little piece.
For the final featurette, we get the six-minute, 25-second RMS Queen Mary. As implied by the title, the show examines the boat used in the film.
We learn how author Paul Gallico’s trip on the Queen Mary influenced his writing of Poseidon as well as various aspects of the boat and how the production adapted it for the film’s sets. “Mary” never becomes deep, but it presents a decent look at the ship and its impact on the production.
A section called Conversations with Ronald Neame presents three short clips. These fill a total of eight minutes, 51 seconds of footage.
In them, Neame discusses secrets of some stunt shots, the movie’s continued appeal to fans, and the scene in which the boat capsizes. Neame manages not to repeat information from his commentary as he offers a few fun tidbits.
An Original 1972 Featurette lasts 10 minutes, one second and includes statements from Neame, Creber, Lynley, and actors Gene Hackman, Leslie Nielsen, and Shelly Winters. The program touts the bigness of the production as an antidote to all the era’s little flicks.
The featurette takes a superficial look at various aspects of the movie, but it exists mainly to promote the film. Still, it adds some decent shots from the set, especially when we take a peak at the production meetings. We also get the disc’s only comments from Hackman and Nielsen - they don’t say much of use, but at least they’re here!
Two Trailers appear. We get both the teaser and trailer for Poseidon. None of them seem particularly strong, I must admit.
Three Galleries appear. We get “Marketing” (21 images), “Publicity” (63), and “Behind the Scenes” (35). Some decent materials pop up here, with the best elements in the “Behind the Scenes” area. Don’t expect a treasure trove, though.
Lastly, we get three Storyboard Comparisons. These come for “Ship Capsizes” (two minutes, 43 seconds), “The Vertical Shaft” (2:21) and “Saving Reverend Scott” (2:05).
Rather than use the standard split-screen technique, this area shows movie scenes and alternates them with drawings. This method doesn’t work very well. I like the material we see but don’t care for the form of presentation very much.
Beyond nostalgia and some good action scenes, The Poseidon Adventure doesn’t offer much to a modern audience. It suffers from many inane elements and a generally poor sense of pacing and storytelling. The Blu-ray provides very good picture and supplements as well as erratic but more than satisfactory audio. This ends up as a decent release for a mediocre movie.
To rate this film, visit the original review of THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE