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George At 

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Raise the Titanic

Many years before Jim Cameron struck box office gold by striking an iceberg, 1980's RAISE THE TITANIC took a fascinating concept, a nearly $40 million dollar budget and watched it sink in two hours of tedium and bad dialogue.

Clive Clusser's hero Dirk Pitt, played here by Richard Jordan with some pretty dim star wattage, is assigned to find the rare mineral Byzantium in order to power a new missile defense system.

Of course, the biggest stockpile of that mineral was in the cargo hold of the Titanic on its maiden voyage, so Pitt must find the ship and figure a way to raise it from the bottom.

This simple story could have certainly served the movie well, but its buried in two very dumb side plots that bog the movie down.

The first is Dirk's old girlfriend Dana (Anne Archer) who is, conveniently for the screenplay, now a news reporter that is leaked the mission secrets AND the current girlfriend of lead Army liaison Dr. Gene Seagram. The good doctor is played by David Selby in one of the single worst performances ever in a big budget film.

Selby must think he is still on "Dark Shadows" as he is in full soap opera mode and definitely playing to the back row.

The dialogue is just horrible, predictable and silly.

Oh yes, the second boring subplot: The Russians. Every cold war Russian stereotype is on full display. It's painfully executed on every level.

The movie isn't without its charms.

Alec Guinness is terrific in a brief role as a Titanic survivor, the music score by John Barry is beautiful and perfectly done from the opening scene to the last.

The model work is first rate. This is pre-CGI so all the effects are done live or with matte paintings. Some of the Titanic models seen here were 55 feet long! The actual raising of the ship (no spoiler alert necessary as its featured on the poster) is really well done, exciting and massive in scale. The special effects team is at the top of their game.

There are guilty pleasures to be found in this big budget snoozer. Guinness' sequence is great, the opening credits showing the actual Titanic build set to John Barry's full orchestral score, the actual scenes of the ship coming back above the surface are all terrific and I find myself enjoying them on repeat viewings.

But is this movie slow.

It turns out the Titanic wasn't sunk by an iceberg, it was done in by bad acting, dumb dialogue, stereotypical villains and a glacier -like pace.

Sink this thing back where it belongs with a waterlogged D.

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