Slim Pickens for Caine Aboard the Poseidon
Whilst director and producer Irwin Allen wasn't the first man to make a disaster movie he was pivotal to the success of the genre during the 70s. But ironically you could also say that he also played a part in the ending of the resurgence with the less that spectacular sequel "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure". To be blunt there is a lot which is wrong to the sequel to "The Poseidon Adventure" with pretty much every part of it, be it the storyline, the action or the acting having at least one issue often more. Having said that there are some good elements to it as well but sadly they are out weighed by the bad and so "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" ends up both less than good and also less that memorable.
Looking like he is going to lose his boat because he can't repay the bank loan, Captain Mike Turner (Michael Caine - The Eagle Has Landed) spots the capsized hull of the Poseidon and decides his only hope is to risk his life and go aboard in search of abandoned money and jewels. He is not alone as along with his friend Wilbur Hubbard (Karl Malden - Nevada Smith) and passenger Celeste Whitman (Sally Field - Legally Blonde 2) another boat arrives at the disaster helmed by Captain Stefan Svevo (Telly Savalas - The Dirty Dozen) who says he is in charge of a medical team. But as they descend into the wreckage all is not as it seems and to make matters more complicated they come across more survivors. With Svevo going one way and Turner the other it becomes a fight to survive when the route they used to go into the Poseidon becomes blocked.
Now there is part of "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" which I quite like, it's the fact that it sort of overlaps with that of "The Poseidon Adventure". It maybe very wrong that a small boat captain would decide to board the capsized vessel in search of money and jewellery but the fact we watch him go through the hole which the survivors left by and then navigate some of the same passages that we watched them escape by provides a nice continuation. Accompanying this is that this captain and those others who have also rocked up to the stricken vessel find some more survivors trapped within the sinking wreckage. It allows "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" to be very much a continuation of the story or at least in theory.
But the thing is that whilst we have this set up of the captain looking to scavenge the wreckage for reward and another team who supposedly are a medical emergency team what follows ends up too similar to what we have seen before. It ends up feeling like a repeat with Michael Caine playing the equivalent of Gene Hackman's role and Peter Boyle playing one similar to that of Ernest Borgnine's so we basically have to alpha males arguing over what to do. And in between the arguing we have them trying to lead this mixed bag of people to the surface, through dangerous corridors, away from fire and so on. It ends up to obvious and the twist over who Captain Stefan Svevo and his medical team are is really not that much of a twist, adding little to make "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" anything more than just a rehash.
All of which wouldn't have been a problem if all the excitement and danger had been present but rarely does it feel that exciting or dangerous. It becomes a trudge through the corridors as you wait for the next obstacle or argument to arrive and you could put money down on who will end up in a watery grave. Even the addition of Telly Savalas's character and the danger he brings doesn't make it anymore exciting and in fact is one of the things which makes it even more ridiculous. And to really hammer home how bad it is, let's just say someone sails off into the sunset quite literally in what is one of the cheesiest scenes I have ever seen in a disaster movie.
A big part of the problem is that it is all very cliche down to the actual characters and as already mentioned Michael Caine and Peter Boyle are basically playing similar characters to those of Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine in the original. The rest of the cast are just the same from Shirley Jones playing the innocent and nice nurse through to Mark Harmon playing the decent young man who falls for the decent young girl, well you need a bit of cliche romance as well. The saving grace comes in the shapes of Slim Pickens and Sally Field both of which play the expected comedy characters but do it so well. Pickens may be over the top as Dewey 'Tex' Hopkins but at least he brings some life to the movie and whilst Sally Field as Celeste Whitman maybe a very forced character her delivery of lines, the non stop talking with the occasional smart ass comment just makes you smile.
What this all boils down to is that "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" is sadly a very disappointing disaster movies which wastes the opportunity to be clever. Whilst it may come up with a storyline to take us back aboard the stricken Poseidon what follows ends up little more than a rehash of the first movie with several similar situations and characters. It does have some good parts and Slim Pickens as well as Sally Field bring much needed humour to the proceedings but what is good about "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" is out weighed by what is bad.