Titanic in 3D Movie Review. Like many other recent films produced in 2D and converted to 3D, the effect is far from convincing, looking like an assortment of 2D images with what may or may not be a bit of depth between them.
Release Date – 4th April 2012
Runtime – 194 minutes
Director – James Cameron
Starring – Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton
Well, it was inevitable, really. This year’s one-hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the “unsinkable” RMS Titanic, combined with the recent trend for re-releasing “classic” films with retrospective “3D” (see also: The Phantom Menace, The Lion King (that one’s actually good)), marks the perfect opportunity for James Cameron to unleash his 1997 disaster epic Titanic once more and to try to reclaim the top spot of the “highest box-office figures ever” table from whomever it was who directed Avatar.
I’m guessing we all know the story: young Rose (Winslet) wants to escape her restricted upper-class family but is unhappily engaged to arrogant Cal Hockley (Zane); Jack (DiCaprio) is a charming world-weary vagabond with nowhere to call home; they fall for each other but their love is as doomed as the ship on which they sail; 100-year old Rose is reminded how the power of love made her heart go on by the most stupid-named contemporary treasure hunter in cinema; roughly sketched posh stereotypes eat caviar and refuse to believe that poor people exist while roughly sketched Irish working class stereotypes jig around below decks; all that jazz.
At the heart of Titanic is a classic love story, which is, as that song may suggest to you, melodrama at its cheesiest; Cameron’s attempts to tug on the heartstrings don’t take long to become highly annoying. With as many hours as it now has dimensions (plus an extra quarter), Jack and Rose’s romance builds up to its disastrous end in a manner that goes on longer than my heart, at least, can take. By the later scenes, it’s hard to care what happens to the characters, and that really isn’t a good sign.
Another important and related problem is that the leads are miscast: read a description of the story (there’s one two paragraphs ago). Which character should be older? Now look at a screenshot of the two leads. See the problem? While Leo has gone on to become an excellent actor, here he looks like he’d have to bring ID to get into the film, and his shallow and bland performance indicates that he’s not yet graduated from the “lovably floppy-haired teen” school of acting. Winslet, on the contrary, while talented in capturing Rose’s frustration with her lack of freedom, is too old to be believable as an innocent seventeen year old.
Nevertheless, there’s more to Titanic than the central relationship. The film shows us many characters in its chronicling of the fateful voyage; while some of these allow bit-part actors to shine – Bernard Hill’s Captain, rendered speechless by the shock of just how badly he’s buggered everything up, and Billy Zane’s sinister-voiced Cal deserve particular praise – many of the side characters are one-dimensional stereotypes (which is worse now that they have two less dimensions than they’re meant to). Some of the details, however, are nice; the scenes I personally find most emotional are the sub-plot about the band, who both tragically and comically – one could say tragicomically – don’t know what to do, except play on, as chaotic panic ensues around them.
Of course, there’s also the appeal of the visual spectacle. On its 1997 release, Titanic wowed with its high scale reproduction of the sinking ship. Cameron’s high budget is certainly reflected in the lavish sets, dramatic water effects and the sheer scale of the reproduction, which is still very visually impressive today and nearly entertaining enough to mask the lack of a sophisticated story.
But whereas the effects alone brought the public flocking in fifteen years ago, it’s the 3D that’s the pull this time. Oh, the 3D. Despite Cameron’s much-acclaimed technical achievements with Avatar, the retrospective stereoscopy of this piece is certainly not going to be winning any awards. Like many other recent films produced in 2D and converted to 3D, the effect is far from convincing, looking like an assortment of 2D images with what may or may not be a bit of depth between them. What it adds is not enough to make up for the negative effects of the conversion; that is, the significant loss of image brightness and the eye strain/general discomfort/indignity caused by wearing the clunky glasses for three hours straight. Frankly, whatever your opinion of the original film, watching it with the addition of what I hesitate to call “3D” is not going to make it any better and, in fact, can only lessen the experience.
So, why the 3D? It’s obviously a poor quality effect to anyone that watches it. Maybe Cameron thought that the 2D version was too subtle and understated… joking aside, the real reason is that the studio is following a current fashion (one that will hopefully die out soon) and sees an opportunity to make big bucks. Again. The emotional melodrama and high-budget spectacle of Titanic captivated audiences fifteen years ago and will doubtlessly repeat that trick in 2012, yet the addition of 3D in no way makes for a better film or counters the many problems with the narrative. It is ironic on several levels that Titanic is still heavily lacking in depth.