If it's crap ... We'll tell you
What is arguably the most iconic Hollywood film of the modern era is back once again to rake in more money. But what is it that has made this film so massive in its impact? It's a movie about an event that almost no one living today ever experienced, it's a James Cameron film without nuclear weapons, Terminators, aliens, Sigourney Weaver or Arnold Schwarzenegger, it had the worst reputation of any film at that time, and it had arguably one of the most far-fetched concepts of any big budget in Hollywood. How could James Cameron's self declared "Romeo & Juliet on the Titanic" ever make any money? Sure, the man had made the first two Terminator films, Aliens and True Lies but how could he do something as radical as a romantic period piece whose ending has already been spoiled for everyone before they even go to see the damned thing? Some of these types of questions have boggled minds of people everywhere but even after fifteen years, does the anomaly of it all still ring true? Well, in short form, the answer is an absolute yes!
For some reason, the film is still as effective. While it still has its corny moments and its embarrassingly tacky one-liners that made it infamous in certain circles, this 3D re-release proves once again that sometimes the best films are meant to be seen on the big screen and nowhere else. It makes someone like me incredibly jealous of someone like my cousin who still hasn't seen it because he can still walk into a cineplex with any particular lady friend and be able to experience this film at its absolute finest in all its glory and power the way it was meant to be seen. Regardless, the film's conversion may not be up to Avatar standards or even Transformers: Dark of the Moon standards (bring on the trolls) but the final half hour alone is worth the extra couple of bucks to see in 3D! There are scenes towards the very end that truly showed which scenes they worked on the most to get right and those scenes are nothing short of breathtaking to take in. Everything involving the ship snapping in two, the one lifeboat going back to search for survivors, the propellers being lifted towards the night sky, the reactions of the people listening to old Rose talk about the "absolution that would never come", the water flooding the corridors and ripping through the ship as Jack and Rose are literally on the run for their lives, and especially the final death/dream sequence that caps the film off is just pitch perfect. Oh yes, and Kate Winslet's breasts as well. Some people have seemed to have forgotten that too.
Joking aside, the nude portrait scene is one of the best scenes in the film in terms of the 3D because it is detailed so meticulously that it feels like you're in the room as it's going on. Not only that but Kate Winslet has never looked so good, so naked. That woman had the most beautiful body and soul of any actress at that time - hands down - and her performance in this film is still one of the best performances by an actress in any movie that I've ever seen. While Billy Zane is still as over-the-top and hammy as he's always been, almost everyone else just delivers whole hog on what they're supposed to do. Now that Leonardo DiCaprio has proven that he's arguably the biggest movie star and one of the greatest and most influential actors of my generation, it is so surreal to see him in a film like this even though it made his career. Yes, he might look like a perfect 15 year old boy who's just too good looking, he's still able to sell whatever's given to him even if it is the infamous "I'm the king of the world" line in some odd way. While he's done great with the whole deep and intensive acting route that his hero Robert De Niro demonstrated so well in his time for our time, it would be nice to see him play a more light-hearted role like this or even do a good dramedy (if not a straight out comedy). The rest of the supporting cast is just marvellous, especially Gloria Stuart. Even though it was a tough category that year at the Academy Awards, Gloria Stuart's absolution speech at the end is just utterly tragic, hauntingly beautiful, and worthy enough of an Oscar in and of itself. It's probably the best piece of writing James Cameron has ever done and he doesn't get nearly enough credit for that single speech. What's even more evident with the 3D release is that even the buddy of Brock Lovett who's rough around the edges is weeping and that's probably the first time since its initial release that it was observable and it just adds an extra dimension of true sadness that you can't get on TV or DVD.
Even though it's in 3D, it still looks beautiful enough that it could have been made today and it's because of that that this film is almost unparalleled in terms of its iconic technical achievements. The ship looks undeniably real and identical to the actual ship, the architecture inside the ship is exquisite, the photography is captured as beautifully as any great painting, and James Horner's score is still one of the most powerful film scores ever orchestrated. Say what you will about Celine Dion's song at the end of the film (I like the song personally) but no one can deny the fact that for what this film did right, it did absolutely right. The cinematography in this film is possibly the only one of its kind that could contend with Gone with the Wind as far as visual composition goes and when you actually look at paintings or other art pieces on the Titanic itself, the film's look just enhances the emotional impact itself since it looks so identical to those original artistic pieces. Even though James Horner's score sounds like something that Enya would compose, it still takes your breath away when certain shots accompanied with the music are played out especially the "flying" scene and one of the final shots of the submersibles pulling away from the shipwreck. No matter what anyone can say about the spots of terrible dialogue, this film is a prime example of James Cameron's masterful direction and storytelling ability.
This film is the proof in the pudding that it really doesn't matter what the content of a film is like quality-wise, if you can still execute it better than anyone else than you deserve every bit of recognition you can get. It might have added a tacky and contrived convention to Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking in terms of having a romantic plot/sub-plot as a requirement to get financed but the thing is that in terms of romance in blockbuster filmmaking, this film does it better than most. While the romance of the whole adventure is very idealistic and unlikely, it is brought full circle by concluding it with a dose of reality in the most exaggerated way possible. We all have that first love who saves us from whatever horrible situation we have in life but that is usually cut short by a tragedy or isn't suitable to last a lifetime realistically in a physical way. That person might always be with us emotionally and psychologically but rarely, if ever, is that first great love with us for any extended period of time physically. It also fulfils both ideas of romantic love for both men and women by having the guy be a poor bum who's had a rough lot in life dying in the grandest way possible whilst having the time of his life and getting the girl in the end and then having the girl escape from her superfluous life and running away with a cute boy for even a little while before enjoying a long life filled with great experiences and plenty of adventure just like that cute boy who just enjoyed life and never ceased to just exist. It's a celebration of life in the face of one of the greatest tragedies in human history and that's one of the key reasons why the story (and not the dialogue) is still as powerful today as it was fifteen years ago or even a century ago. The sheer size and scope of the film's imagination and emotional resonance is the reason why this film has endured and there's no other way to experience it at its grandest than on the big screen where it truly belongs. Get over the cynicism and the backlash because we've heard it before and it's beside the point. This is one of the greatest epic films ever made - and always will be.
Rating: Full Price!!