I'll reiterate what I said in the other RTT thread. The film's negative reputation comes entirely from the fact that the novel was such a success (making Pitt as big a success as Jack Ryan would be a decade later) that audiences who went were mightily disappointed to see a movie that failed to capture the action and suspense of the novel, especially in terms of the confrontations with the Soviets (including a Soviet agent murdering a crewman earlier in the action) and the climactic hurricane boarding. Also, the character of Dirk Pitt as played by Jordan bears no resemblance at all to the young, dashing, reckless adventurer that Pitt is in the novel. I'm convinced that the original script adapter, Eric Hughes, who was attached to the project when Stanley Kramer was going to direct, wrote Pitt in a way to accomodate the casting of someone like Steve McQueen, because that earlier script draft gives us a Pitt who is in his 40s, and is an introspective loner who lost a wife and child earlier. That would have suited a 45 year old Steve McQueen type in the part and if a star like McQueen had played the part that way it might have been accepted by audiences. But when a slightly modified version of Pitt in this template was then presented with a total film unknown in Richard Jordan, that was a tougher sell. At the time, Jordan's biggest film role had been as the bad guy in "Logan's Run" and then star of the TV miniseries "Captains And The Kings". IMO, that just wasn't a strong enough resume to sell him as the embodiment of a signature character of popular fiction. By the time "Raise The Titanic" came out, it should also be noted that Cussler had written two more blockbuster bestsellers, "Vixen 03" and "Night Probe", the latter of which has Pitt go up against a character meant to be a retired James Bond, which further cemented the notion of Pitt as a big action hero type which Jordan was clearly not playing.
Having a journeyman TV director in Jerry Jameson also didn't help because the character sequences that remain are leadenly directed. Jameson seems to have gotten the job because he had directed "Airport '77" for line producer William Frye several years earlier and because of the similiarities in some aspects between RTT and that film (There are even several bit players who had been in "Airport '77" who turn up in RTT as well, including M. Emmet Walsh in a part that in the first script draft was supposed to be Pitt's long-time friend and sidekick from the novels, Al Giordino). A key scene of Anne Archer having a final chat with Pitt aboard the Titanic after it arrives in NY was cut, leaving the whole matter of her character and her relationship with Seagram stick out like a pointless unresolved plot point that goes nowhere. Also cut was the 1912 prologue showing the sinking and the Brewster character locking himself in the vault (the F/X scenes reused later on the "Voyagers" TV show). So when you have important points of exposition cut AND poor direction AND a rewritten interpretation of Pitt played by a total unknown AND the watering down of the best elements of Cussler's novel, you've got a recipe for trouble.
The film's redeeming points remain the John Barry score and the F/X sequences which is why I still recommend it, but it's sad that such a great novel didn't get a proper telling on the screen. The irony is that a decade later, Jordan would do a terrific job in a supporting role in "The Hunt For Red October" which was a case of the *right* way to bring a popular novel to the screen.
Clive Cussler BTW has a cameo in the film in the Sandecker press conference sequence. He's the bearded reporter in the group.