It’s easy today to make fun of Raise the Titanic (1980) and its now quaint notion that the Titanic went down in one piece, but that was the prevalent belief at the time the film was made (and the book was written). Anyway, there’s so much more to make fun of about this misbegotten mess, why bother with that? Just look at the preposterous plot. The idea is to raise the ship from the bottom of the ocean by patching the hull, floatation devices, and what amounts to blowing up some really balloons — all of which has to be done via slow-moving, murkily photographed deep-sea diving vessels. Besides being improbable, it’s also the antithesis of exciting to watch. And why are we doing this in the first place? Well, it seems that the ship went down with a load of some mystery element called “byzanium,” which, we’re told, can put an end to the Cold War. Naturally, this means those pesky commies are interested, too, since they know what most of the good guys fail to perceive — this is the source of a super weapon. (The forces of good are none too bright.)
While all this foolishness sounds like it might be entertaining, it isn’t. Why? Well, first of all, it’s so damned slow and the characters are uninteresting. But worse, apart from raising the ship, nothing much happens. Any excitement such a screwy scenario might generate never materializes. Even the showdown with those Russkies fizzles without a shot fired. Dull, dull, dull. On the plus side, Alec Guinness gets one rather charming scene as a steward who survived the sinking in 1912. Plus, yes, the effects work, the models, and the ship itself are all impressive — in a way that CGI so rarely is. But whether this makes it worth slogging through the movie…well, I certainly won’t be revisiting it.
The Hendersonville Film Society will show Raise the Titanic Sunday, March 29, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.