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Published April 03, 2012, 11:30 PM

Forget ‘Titanic,’ get aboard a good boat movie

So James Cameron is raising the Titanic. Again. The writer-director brushes the barnacles off his 1997 blockbuster and gives it the 3-D treatment this time around.

By: John Lamb, INFORUM

So James Cameron is raising the Titanic. Again.

The writer-director brushes the barnacles off his 1997 blockbuster and gives it the 3-D treatment this time around.

As if the syrupy love story wasn’t sappy enough, now theater-goers can watch it ooze off the screen and stick to the cinema floor.

Hasn’t that poor ship been through enough? The classiest of cruise liners sank on its maiden voyage in 1912, killing 1,514 people. It was one of the largest peacetime maritime disasters, giving birth, I believe, to the popular phrase “epic fail.”

What’s to gain by dredging this salt-water-logged romance? Does the world really need to see Billy Zane glower in 3-D? And does 3-D make Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” even more piercing on the ears?

Is Cameron still looking for sources of unobtanium, or is he just trying to wring another couple million dollars from this rusty shipwreck?

Even if the movie’s visual updates are impressive, it won’t patch the gaping holes in the movie – characters without much depth and a predictable, clichéd love story.

My ticket to theatrical thrills and chills on the open ocean is 1972’s “The Poseidon Adventure.”

What? You never heard of this star-studded disaster movie? Gene Hackman. Shelley Winters. Ernest Borgnine. Red Buttons. Roddy McDowall. Pamela Sue Martin! On a ship! On New Year’s Eve! There hasn’t been this much onscreen portside star power since the “Eight is Enough” gang saw the Osmond family perform on “The Love Boat.” (This actually may be more of a dream – or a very real “Circus of the Stars.”)

If you want characters, try Leslie Nielsen, when he was still a dramatic actor, as the charming yet stoic captain. Just make sure you watch the first 20 minutes before he gets crushed by the rogue wave that flips the ship.

That’s right, the movie poster delivers what it promises with the tagline, “Hell, upside down.”

And who will lead the rag-tag band of survivors out of this hell? None other than Hackman as Rev. Scott, a minister whose own faith has recently been turned upside down, leaving him doubting the powers that be.

Sound conflicted? Meet Detective Rogo (Borgnine), married to a former hooker (Stella Stevens), who, we can just assume, had a heart of gold. The cop clashes with the pastor, yelling at him, “Who do you think you are? God himself?”

Cameron couldn’t write anything that dramatic. He may have been “King of the World,” but his dialogue was all court jester.

Sure, “Titanic” fans will point to Jack’s freezing heroism at the end to save Rose. Touching. But if you really want meaningful action, watch Hackman’s preacher, angry at God for the deaths along the escape route, leap to manually hand-crank shut a steaming hot valve, leading the way out for the “Poseidon” survivors. Though successful, his efforts drain him of energy and he falls to his death.

Maybe it’s just me, but his self-sacrifice after asking why God has forsaken them sounds eerily Easter-y. Which makes the original “Poseidon Adventure” much more fitting to watch this weekend than the lifeless resurrection of “Titanic.”

That ship has sailed. And it sank. So let it rust in peace.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533