Categories: Movie Reviews
Written By: cjmarren
Celebrating 100 years since the original disaster, and 15 years since it’s original theatrical release, James Cameron has re-released Titanic with an injection of 3D – the question is, will it sink or swim?
Unlike most, I’ve somehow avoided seeing Titanic since it’s original release, so it’s essentially a new release for me. For most though, the story of Rose & Jack’s whirlwind of romance aboard the doomed ship is a familiar one which crops up at the usual predictable times, namely Christmas and Valentines Day.
The story itself is fairly simple – a rich, yet unhappy young lady happens across a handsome, charming but poor young man and they fall passionately in love. However, Rose and Jack picked the wrong ship for a holiday fling, as they’re aboard the RMS Titanic. I doubt I’m spoiling the ending by telling you it sinks, but the journey there is one that surprised me a little. I was expecting three hours of mindless, boring, slushy romance, but James Cameron makes sure that while the romantic fanatics are catered for, so too are those of us who like a little action and excitement.
The last 45 minutes in particular are pretty non-stop, with the ship dramatically tearing itself in two, and some of the extra cast members undergoing a similarly grisly fate. Although the dialogue between Jack and Rose is very forced at times (surely they can go one conversation without having to use first names?), it’s generally of a decent standard and gets the job done.
Playing Jack and Rose are Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, respectively. Both in their early twenties at this point, they still command the screen when they’re present. Winslet is excellent in her role as an upper class lady whose wild side is itching to come out, while DiCaprio is the very definition of a heart-throb, with his good looks and laddish-yet-romantic personality. There’s a real chemistry between the two when they’re together and adding Billy Zane as Roses’ detestably snobbish fiancée Caledon Hockley just re-enforces this. There is an oddly strong supporting cast too, with several roles based upon real-life passengers and crew who become familiar and recognisable to us over the course of the movie, and whose differing fates do add to the emotion as the ship goes down.
Fifteen years after the release, I did find it hard not to think about how much Winslet and DiCaprio have matured since – in my opinion, DiCaprio is one of the best headline actors in present-day Hollywood, and he could certainly do better as Jack with his current abilities, but it’s still a very good performance even at this stage of his career and you can see the promise he showed.
Cameron’s direction is rarely questioned, and Titanic is superbly directed – the pacing of the plot never leaves us bored, and while he varies the dosage of both, romance and action are usually intertwined, and rarely apart for long. The soundtrack is good in the sense that it serves it’s purpose – the only real stand-out is Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”, but the less said about that the better.
The real meat and veg for most is the transition to 3D, and whether it improves the movie enough to warrant paying out to see a 15 year old film. The opening sequence, which is centred around actual footage of the Titanic wreck, is quite nice with some noticeable effects present. However, I found that as soon as we went back to 1912, the 3D effects were barely noticeable. I genuinely struggled to notice 3D for the duration of the movie, which was hugely disappointing considering the potential for some great effects during the ships destruction. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled with movies such as Avatar or Transformers, where performance and plot play a distant second fiddle to 3D effects which make you jump as they pop out of the screen, but in my opinion, Cameron would have been better off just re-releasing Titanic in its original state.
Final verdict? I don’t blame 20th Century Fox for re-releasing Titanic, with the centenary being a big news story. It also opens the movie up for a whole new audience for whom “I’m the King of the World!”, a steamy hand on the window, and “Iceberg, right ahead!” are clichés, and lets them see what the fuss was all about back in 1997.
However, the inclusion of 3D is unnecessary, and adds nothing to the movie – if you enjoyed Titanic previously, you might get a kick out of revisiting it with a fresh lick of paint. If you didn’t enjoy it in the first place, then it’ll still be a wreck, so treat it like an iceberg and avoid it.
I’ll give this 3.5 Lifebuoys out of 5