Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Bernard Hill, Bill Paxton, Billy Zane, Gloria Stuart, Frances Fisher, Jonathan Hyde WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
James Cameron MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13 RUNNING TIME
194 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY
Among the film reviews that have led to an onslaught of hate mail, few have had the intensity of my respectful yet modest review of James Cameron's Oscar-winning and mega-successful Titanic.
Titanic is back now in what may very well have been meant to be its original format, a 3-D production that allows Cameron to emphasize the grand-scale awesomeness of this cinematic production.
There is almost no question that America, indeed the world, swooned for Titanic on the strength of Leonardo DiCaprio's box-office popularity and America's undying fascination with all things related to the unsinkable Titanic. It's nearly impossible to not respect Cameron's vision for the film and his lifelong devotion to exploring and researching everything he possibly could related to the film.
Indeed, there's no doubt that Titanic is more than just a film to James Cameron.
What has always irritated me most about Titanic is Cameron's assertion of its historical and technical accuracy, both assertions being blindly egotistical and woefully inaccurate. There is no doubt that Cameron paid close attention to detail, creating a remarkably accurate ship with a greater degree of authenticity than we've most certainly ever seen related to this subject matter. That said, Cameron's woefully inadequate script ignores so many important aspects of this story that any true Titanic history buff will most assuredly sit and laugh through certain of the film's scenes.
The film is challenged, as well, by Cameron's insistence on placing smack dab in the middle of it a melodramatic story line that is utterly unnecessary amidst a ship and story already possessing so much power and drama. In case you've lived in a vacuum all these years, the film centers around an ill-fated love story between the upper crust Rose (Kate Winslet) and the working class Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio). It's a romance that has no foundation in reality and is not based on any actual Titanic passengers. It's merely a romantic storyline amidst the ultimate ill-fated setting.
The film is a technical marvel and 3-D largely enhances just how marvelous the film actually is. While 3-D imagery can often turn camera work into a murky endeavor, Cameron doesn't have such an experience here and the 3-D post-fitting does add an extra layer of awesomeness that would be hard to deny. Unfortunately, all the awesomeness in the world doesn't fix the film's stilted and occasionally laughably dramatic dialogue delivered by two movie stars in the roles that made them both household names.
So, too, I'm amazed at how often I felt absolutely nothing will watching Titanic. There's no sense of the tragedy involved in the loss of 1,500 lives. Cameron's camera is so fixated on portraying awesome that Cameron seems to have gotten that there's a truly awful and tragic dimension to this story. The $200 million film has snagged right about $1.7 billion at the box-office since its release in 1997, and it's hard to imagine this 3-D re-distribution not allowing the film to near the $2 billion mark worldwide.
I remember when Titanic first was released and I was working with a writing partner who was appalled at my disdain for the film, though I'd hardly call a B-, 2.5-star rating a thrashing. To completely trash the film would be an injustice, because there's simply too many remarkable technical achievements in the film that must be acknowledged.
Both DiCaprio and Winslet give among their weakest performances here, DiCaprio's vocal stylings more appropriate for a contemporary west coast romantic comedy while Winslet's flawless American accent goes for naught opposite a young man with whom she exhibits zilch in the way of chemistry. Among the key players, only Victor Garber truly shines. Garber, as the ship's builder, gives a multi-layered and moving performance in which about the only thing that seems to be moving by film's end are a few lifeboats.
If you've ever been curious about Titanic or you fancy yourself a true fan of the film, then this very well may be worth your time and the extra cost of a 3-D ticket. Otherwise, this is one Titanic best left at the bottom of the ocean.