~~The insertion of a terrorist plot. All this did was prolong the capsizement, add characters no one cares about and feebly try to appear timely when actually the full force of nature has proved to the world to be plenty to deal with! ~~The removal of a strong leading character and his antagonist. Half the suspense of the original was wondering if the survivors were doing the right thing and they often fought about it in between climbing and trying to stay alive. No one really seems in charge here. ~~The complete stripping of any Biblical symbolism, which added a subtle gravity to the original as the characters followed their leader, sometimes with great sacrifice. The book gave Reverend Scott twelve followers. This thing doesn't even have Rev. Scott! ~~The omission of the most popular character among die-hard fans -- Linda Rogo. She provided sass and comic relief throughout the suspenseful original. She's scarcely even mentioned here. Also, the removal of Manny Rosen lessens the interest and the meaning of Belle Rosen's character despite endless references to him. ~~The absence of great music, which enhanced the original tremendously. ~~The lack of urgency. The original survivors could only barely keep ahead of the water pouring in. Here, the ballroom survivors stay alive much longer and most characters hardly get wet at all! Except for Belle, no one of any importance is killed. Only the non-name performers die and their deaths are telegraphed to where a six year-old could see them coming. It was never a "given" in the original that there would even be a rescue as there is here with all the endless naval sequences. ~~One of the key sequences of the original film, Belle's swim and heart attack, is so poorly handled as to be laughable. There's no discussion beforehand, no need for her to go first and no benefit from it, since the priest swims right beside her all the way. The whole point was that no one was sure it could be done. Since the priest kept up with her, he obviously could have done it alone first!
These are only a few of the major points. In addition, there are countless inanities and confounding changes which do nothing to enhance the story. The capsizement no longer takes place at midnight and no further reference is made to a new year. Why? Was it so wrong to have the explosion happen at 12:00? Part of the drama was that everyone went from so jubilant to so terrified within minutes! A singer preposterously strips off her dress at the drop of a hat in order to provide masks for people, yet Mrs. Rosen has a large flowy jacket that could have easily done (for three times as many people!) This film asks the audience to believe that a teen girl can follow instructions left by a Sharpie marker on the walls and ceilings of an overturned liner. Additionally, a teen boy films everything with a video recorder even when death is at hand. He never once wonders where his father is, but just keeps taping everything. Ridiculous. The film provides a massive insult to professional massage therapists as a female one practically has her left breast exposed during a session and proceeds to flirt with and eventually sleep with the married client. The characters are practically bereft of engrossing traits or texture. They don't even get to the point of stereotypes. They're merely props!
Is anything good? The overturning sequences aren't bad, actually, and this time the viewer gets to see other areas of the ship such as the kitchen and (ridiculously) a bedroom with a copulating couple in it. Also, the sets tend to be fairly decent throughout. Otherwise, it's a pretty dire affair.
Several of the actors (Hauer, Brown, Van Wyk, Hamilton) attempt to inject some presence into their nondescript roles. Most of them are wasting their time and get no thanks for their efforts. Time and gravity have been very cruel to several of the people on hand here (Guttenberg, Weller, Howell and Syms) and it's depressing to see them wallowing in such a poorly conceived project. It was a pointless idea to begin with. The producers should have just made up their own story and left the name Poseidon out of it. One can only hope that Wolfgang Peterson, director of the upcoming feature remake (!) learned something from this futile mess. It should be noted that this was originally a FOUR HOUR mini-series and so a great deal of character development was cut out to make it a three hour movie. they should have trimmed down the rescue and government scenes and left the emphasis on the ship, where it always should have been! Lastly, 5 out of the original's 10 primary cast members were Oscar-winning actors. With talent like that you can rely on the performers to fill in the blanks. Unfortunately, most of the people in this would be lucky to work as a seat-filler at the Academy Awards ceremony.