Review in a Hurry: Near, far, wherever you are sitting in the theater, the newly revamped Titanic now has stuff coming out at you. It’s the same movie you probably love (or at least respect), with a little bit of datedness and a lot more vertigo. And mercifully, the 3-D is well done.
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The Bigger Picture: As it’s one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, and you already know the ending (and we don’t just mean the fact that the boat sinks), there seems little need to recap the plot here. Let’s just cut right to the chase: it’s a good 3-D conversion. That might have once sounded like damning with faint praise—think “a not-terrible Kevin James movie”—but seriously, this one took time and money, and just like everything else about the original version that took time and money, it shows.
The best 3-D enhancements include any scenes where somebody looks over the deck—Rose’s suicide attempt, for example, or the now-infamous “King of the World” scene (does anyone else remember that, in fact, The Simpsons did that first in the 1990 episode “Bart the Daredevil”?). With the added depth, the true height of the boat adds to the thrill of it all, and during the last hour the immersion effect makes everything still feel ultra-tense despite your foreknowledge of every beat.
On the downside, but a minor one, 3-D makes some effect-weaknesses more prominent, like the digital humans walking stiffly around the deck in the aerial shots, or what appears to be Kate Winslet‘s face composited on a stuntwoman’s body during an action scene. These shouldn’t ruin the movie for anyone, but are noteworthy for being less than today’s state-of-the-art. Converted 3-D also inherently comes up short in scenes of large splashes or explosions that involve tiny particles—they’ll never pop like they do in filmed 3-D.
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As for the movie itself, it still mostly holds up. Key to its appeal is that it contains something for everyone, with frequent one-liners to break up the seriousness of romance, and occasional genre-bending elements of action, sci-fi (Bill Paxton and his submarines) and horror (the floating corpses, including at least one dead baby).
It’s funny to think that back in the day, Leonardo DiCaprio got the same amount of snark as Robert Pattinson does today for his heartthrob ways. It’s clear now that he hasn’t been better since—there’s a naturalness to him in Titanic that has since been lost in such overly methodical performances as in Shutter Island and The Aviator. Winslet, on the other hand, has improved—compared to her more recent roles, she’s a bit stiff in this, though some of that’s intentional.
Yes, Billy Zane‘s odd makeup is still, well, odd, Celine Dion has ruined the score for many of us and Bill Paxton’s bad dye-job and stoned delivery play more like parody than they once did. And did everyone remember that the whole “I see you” motif from Avatar began here? That, at least, sounds more organic as a possible mistranslation from a nature-attuned, blue-skinned alien than a pick-up line from a street-smart sketch artist.
The whole, however, is much stronger than the sum of its parts. But the bottom line is that the added 3-D is no weak link.
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The 180—a Second Opinion: Dear 3-D convertors: TV monitors and camera viewfinder displays, as seen on Paxton’s ship, are generally 2-D in real life, and certainly were in the ’90s. It’s cool that they got post converted too, but not true to reality.
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