Britannic (2000) starring Edward Atterton, Amanda Ryan, Jacqueline Bisset, Ben Daniels, John Rhys-Davies, Bruce Payne, Alex Ferns directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith Movie Review

Britannic (2000)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Archie Davies and Jacqueline Bisset in Britannic

Titanic 2 - The Sister Ship

I doubt there are many who have never heard of the Titanic and I am sure thanks to James Cameron's watery epic "Titanic" those who were unaware of the legendary ship became aware of it. But did you know the Titanic also has a sister ship called the HMHS Britannic which on the 21st November 1916 also sank? I doubt many do because you see when the Britannic sank only 30 people died when it hit a mine whilst operating as a Hospital ship during the war. But that didn't stop someone deciding to make a movie about the Britannic in what to me is an obvious attempt to capitalize of the popularity on all things "Titanic". And like James Cameron's epic, "Britannic" is a blur of fact and fiction as it tries to capture much of what made "Titanic" popular.

The year is 1916 and the Titanic's sister ship the Britannic has been converted from a cruise liner to a hospital ship and is setting sail for Naples then Greece where Lady Lewis (Jacqueline Bisset - Wild Orchid) plans to debark. But the British War Office believes that there may be a German spy aboard so send newly trained Vera Campbell (Amanda Ryan) on board masquerading as a Governess to try and discover who the spy is. But there is more that one German aboard and they plan to take over the ship and if that fails sink it.

Amanda Ryan as Vera Campbell in Britannic

One of the first things to say about "Britannic" is that it takes the true story of the ship sinking off of Greece but muddies the water by making up a whole war time, espionage threat storyline to make it more interesting. And to be honest watching a Hospital ship sink from hitting a mine with just 30 deaths is not going to make for an interesting movie so the additional storyline is needed to make it movie worthy. But sadly the whole storyline surrounding Vera Campbell as a British agent posing as a Governess aboard the Britannic because the British War Office believe German's have infiltrated it is quite laughable. In fact it's both dull and laughable with very few moments of tension to make it any more exciting. Even the sub plot about Vera having been a survivor from the Titanic and so has this slight fear of being on a boat again fails to make it any more special.

As such the fictional storyline which sees Campbell discovering the German spies and trying to stop them from taking over the Britannic ends up not worth watching. What takes it place is the attempt to imitate the "Titanic" with the character of Campbell being not to unlike Rose with confidence issues and there is a semi romantic sub plot thrown in for good measures. Vera Campbell is not the only similarity as Jacqueline Bisset as Lady Lewis is not that dissimilar to the ever so posh Ruth Dewitt Bukater from "Titanic". And of course there is the whole ship sinking element.

What is for certain is that whilst "Titanic" was a lavish spectacular "Britannic" feels distinctly low budget. The special effects such as a missile being fired at the Britannic and the actual ship at sea look distinctly tacky, overly simplistic and often almost cartoon like. And then there are the scenes aboard the Britannic and those which take place upon the ships Bridge are flooded with bright light to imitate the brightness of the sun reflecting off the sea but in fact is to stop you from seeing the cheapness of the effects and that these scenes were most likely shot in a studio.

As for the acting, well in many ways it's the movie's saving grace because whilst Amanda Ryan as Vera Cambell is obviously trying to emulate the performance of Kate Winslet she does a surprising decent job of almost carrying the movie by herself. Don't get me wrong it's by no means a brilliant performance but one which is superior to the actual movie. Edward Atterton does an equally good job as the conflicted German spy playing Chaplain Reynolds finding the almost turmoil of completing his mission whilst falling for Vera. Plus there is Jacqueline Bisset who doesn't over do the snootiness as Lady Lewis although to be frank Lewis ends up a very minor character. Oh and for the sharp eyed amongst you will spot Alex Ferns, who played wife beating Trevor in "Eastenders", as stoker Evans.

What this all boils down to is that "Britannic" is sadly a disappointing movie through the fictional story about German spies, the obvious elements which imitate "Titanic" and the sloppy romantic storyline it struggles to really keep your attention. Its saving grace is the acting of Amanda Ryan and Edward Atterton which in many ways is superior to the actual movie. If you want to know the truth about the Titanic's sister ship the HMHS Britannic then don't watch this movie as it muddies the waters between fact and fiction too much.