Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Case for Going Back to Titanic

Okay, some of the lines are hideous and deservedly have been mocked.  The "Are you ready to go back to Titanic?" one is quite bad (considering it's a trip through memory lane rather than a physical return), and of course there is the "I'm king of the world!" one, which could be forgiven if said in the right context, but the scene itself was mainly just floating around DiCaprio rather than showing the realm over which he claimed dominion, so it seemed a little... presumptuous rather than understandable.

But really, I was going to see Titanic 3D for reasons other than the story.


I think this is the third time that I have seen Titanic on the big screen.  If I recall correctly (though it was around 14 years ago now) my second viewing was at the un-refurbished Embassy cinema, where the group I was part of was told off by a shrill harpy questioning whether we were going to talk through the entire film even though the commercials before the film (yes the "pre show programme", not even the trailers before the film) had barely begun.  We were stunned into silence by the timing and fervour of the woman, though I ended up seething through the film at the apparent injustice.  But I digress.

The point is, having seen it before a couple of times (and a few times on TV as well, though not all the way through), I knew what I was in for.  The story is... well, a love story.  It is a bit overwrought, and well known, so I don't need to recount everything that happens here.  Suffice to say that the "bracketing" story with the old Rose proves that the character has aged into a complete b1tch, while main tale follows the young and very $exually mature Rose (the stunning Kate Winslet, who has the best part in the whole movie) meeting her lower class lover Jack (youthful and floppy haired Leonardo DiCaprio), while her impossibly boorish finance (played with much gusto, an invisible twirling moustache and a huge amount of scenery chewing by Billy Zane) gives her (and the audience) every reason to detest him.  All this is, of course, set against the back drop of the sinking of the steamship Titanic in one of the most impressive special effects movies ever.

And the special effects, especially the 3D transfer, are amazing.  Swooping and diving and swirling around the ship, there is an extra level of opulence and grandeur in the incredible reconstruction of the stairwells, dining rooms, parlours and other sets, and an extra sense of terror and loss as the ship sinks and settles on the bottom of the ocean.  It is a bit strange that we get the 3D effect on scenes where people are looking at TV screens (which should be 2D, if you know what I mean), but the 3D is applied with the same lavish attention to detail and love of the subject that obviously went into the making of the film in the 1990s.  Sure, some of the computer generated people move in a completely unconvincing way, but they did at the time as well; and this film (for me) is not really about the people anyway.

There was the odd moment of panic: I cringed when the theme song played a bit too long, but thankfully Celine's impressive yet soulless voice did not come on until the very end, at which stage we were able to flee before she could work herself up to hurricane force howling; the very, very steamy love scene in the automobile and the hand sliding down the condensation soaked windscreen seemed torn from a movie with an altogether different rating (whereas the "James Cameron draws Kate Winslet" scene, wonderfully mocked by Billy Crystal, was still pretty classy); and I was almost wanting to slap the highly emotional crew aboard the Russian diving ship who looked like they would require therapy after the old bat gave her hours-long story when (I presume) all they really wanted to know was the location of the Heart of the Ocean, which she never told them anyway. 

However, those moments were short lived, knowing as I did how things would work out, and looking forward, albeit in a fairly morbid way, to the panic and sensation and action as the Unsinkable Titanic slowly but surely sank. 

The film was still around three hours long, and (for the most part) enjoyable throughout.  Kate Winslet and Kathy Bates are always a pleasure to watch, and the rest of the cast filled their roles totally adequately, and then the 3D took over and kept my attention riveted to the screen.  Titanic was definitely worth paying the 3D price to see, and remains a classic movie, even with its flaws.

Verdict:  I enjoyed Titanic the first time I saw it (second time too) and that joy has not changed.  It is still not in my list as one of the greatest movies that I have ever seen, but visually it is still superb, and in 3D, it is breathtaking.  7 icebergs out of 10.


Off-Black said...

She was indeed shrill, and a harpy. I wish I had been more sarcastic in reponse.

One thing that grates with Titanic, and some aspects of the centenary is the way people (americans in particular) refer to the ship itself as simply "Titanic". It should be "THE Titanic", or "RMS Titanic". Dropping the title/prefix is just wrong to my ears :)

missrabbitty said...

i do like how you called billy zane's character her 'finance' seeing as he was fairly rich!

and how do they make a 2D movie 3D?