Bil’s rating (out of 5): B. United Kingdom/USA, 1980. ITC Films. Screenplay by Adam Kennedy, adaptation by Eric Hughes, based on the novel by Clive Cussler. Cinematography by Matthew F. Leonetti. Produced by William Frye. Music by John Barry. Production Design by John DeCuir. Costume Design by John A. Anderson. Film Editing by Robert F. Shugrue, J. Terry Williams.
An adventure so dull, you might wish you were at the bottom of the ocean too. American and Russian operatives are looking for a rare mineral that will be useful for defense technology, discovering that a miner took boxes of the stuff aboard the S.S. Titanic before, as we all know, it sank on its maiden voyage in 1912. Federal agents team up with salvage expert Richard Jordan to locate the sunken ship on the ocean floor, then devise a way to get it back to the surface in order to search its contents for the treasure they seek. Based on one of Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt novels, the film was meant as the first in a Pitt franchise, sort of a rival to James Bond (the score by John Barry can easily confirm this) with a touch of the relic obsession of the still-to-come Indiana Jones adventures; the problem is, it’s made with so little conflict or escapism that it’s no surprise it tanked at the box office. Cussler was so unhappy with the results that he did not allow another adaptation of his work until 2005’s Sahara, which infuriated him even further, while the actual discovering of the Titanic on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean in 1985 made this one’s grasp on the facts seem that much more ridiculous (like A Night To Remember before it, it does not feature a ship that broke in two during sinking). This film is an incredible bore, with poor special effects and underwater scenes whose action is almost impossible to make out, while above the surface the inclusion of the odd Russian threat adds no pulse to the dull story. The sight of the famed ship surfacing into fresh air is the one saving grace, an eerie and moving sequence that provides chills, but otherwise it is a real turkey.