Re-Action: The Poseidon Adventure (1972) vs. Poseidon (2006)

As long as Hollywood continues to remake/reboot action films, fans will continue to debate: “Should they have even done it?” “Did they stay true enough to the original, without blatantly ripping it off?” And maybe the most important debate of all… “Is it actually better?!”

Hang on as we dive head first into 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure and the 2006 action remake Poseidon.


1972 Original

Budget = $5,000,000

Box Office = $85,000,000

Lead Roles = Gene Hackman as Reverend Scott / Ernest Borgnine as Rogo

Director = Ronald Neame

Score = John Williams

Running Time = 117 minutes

2006 Remake

Budget = $160,000,000

Box Office = $182,000,000 (worldwide)

Lead Roles = Kurt Russell as Robert Ramsey / Josh Lucas as Dylan Johns

Director = Wolfgang Peterson

Score = Klaus Badelt

Running Time = 98 minutes


My Two Cents

I am a great fan of the “disaster” genre. Even bad ones are still watchable for me. A perfect example of this might be Daylight, starring Sly Stallone. It is incredibly cheesy and falls flat on its face at times. But, I have still seen it at least three or four times. There is just something about a disaster film that makes me happy to be a part of the human race. We face problems every day in our lives and we find a way to get back up and move forward. It is what separates a human from an animal and disaster films prove that.

A big part of the credit for my love of the disaster film would have to be paid to the original 1972 classic The Poseidon Adventure. I saw it at around the age of 13 and it stirred up every emotion that a person is capable of feeling in me while watching it. When it was announced that it was not only going to be remade, but that Wolfgang Peterson was going to be directing it (Air Force One) I was extremely excited!

The original’s finest achievement is not in its direction so much as it is its ultimate “feel” throughout. You become emotionally involved with this group of diverse personalities and relate with each one of them at some point throughout their journey together. Wolfgang Peterson is a fantastic action director and always pays very fine attention to all details and that does include the performances in his 2006 remake. Kurt Russell in particular is very warm and helps the viewer feel a little more involved with the emanate danger that looms. But when all is said and done, you just never feel the tug at the heart strings as members of the group are lost, because you just don’t sympathize with them like you do in the 1972 original. The love/mostly hate relationship that Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine’s characters express throughout the 72’ feature is the best example of this.

The score for the remake, although well done is completely the wrong feel for a film such as this. The desire by Wolfgang Peterson to make this film fit more into an action genre rather than a disaster film was a bad choice in my opinion and that expands to the music as well. At times you feel like you are watching the likes of Speed rather than The Towering Inferno. In contrast, John Williams (yes, THE John Williams) proved very early on in his career that he can feel the pulse of a movie as he sits and watches it for the first time minus its initial soundtrack. The feel of “doom” encompasses his theme for The Poseidon Adventure right from the beginning and this is a huge part to making the original the wonderful film it still is by today’s standards.


My Pick

At the end of the day, for me anyway, it is all about “what kind of mood am I in?” I am one of the few people that will say that Peterson’s remake is a great film. Its biggest problem as far as I am concerned is its short running time. It could easily be 15 minutes longer and could have helped to have added the elements of a true disaster film. The original, while it does seem dated at times, is a true fantastic disaster film with elements of action throughout. I stand firm when I say that for the record I don’t really think one is “better” than the other. But… if I can’t really say that, then I would always side with the “original”. But with that said, don’t believe the nay-sayers. Give the 2006 remake a try as well.