Titanic in 3D Review
“Are you ready to go back to Titanic?” asked Bill Paxton’s ocean-liner obsessive to a bewildered Gloria Stewart, as she stared longingly at a small television monitor, closely inspecting the deep sea diving pod swooping over the wreckage of the infamous ship, recollecting a story that has become a worldwide happening of proportions only the luxury liner herself can be compared to.
That phenomenon was James Cameron’s magnum opus Titanic, a film that despite its extraordinary success was never supposed to succeed. But it did, monumentally so: record-breaking box office that pulsated to unprecedented levels the likes that hadn’t been seen, and has only been bettered by Cameron’s own Avatar in 2010; a annoyingly successful, and infuriating, number one song; and 11 Academy Awards and plaudits from all corners of the globe. It was a behemoth back in 1997, a year that had already given us behemoth’s with T-Rex’s strolling through San Diego, Will Smith battling aliens, and, ahem, Batman and Robin. It was an unstoppable force of nature that has rightly cemented its place in cinema history as one of only a few films worthy of the word “epic”; grand in scale, almost universally loved, and garnered with accolades.
Now, on the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of Titanic (cynical Hollywood ploy?), Cameron has brought his film back with a shiny new 3D enhancement, thanks to the same 3D engine that so successfully brought Avatar to life in ways we had never before seen (or have seen since). But does it add anything to the already "epic" epic?
Well, yes for the most part.
3D has always split audiences, with some paying the extra few quid just for the fad, others (myself included) steering clear due to its headache-inducing glasses and the fact that more often than not it actually ruins the experience. Avatar was the obvious exception due to being filmed in 3D, so it does make sense for Cameron to utilise the technology for Titanic. The sweeping shots of both the wreckage and the recreations of the ship look spectacular, adding even more grandeur to the film; and the superb final hour when the ship goes down now has even more strength and emotion than it ever has, perfectly combining with Cameron’s more intense and sharp direction, as well as the obvious technical flair.
It’s during the still sluggish and stale “romance” first half of the film where the 3D acts more of distraction throughout this period of the film, despite its visual and technical nuance, and serves more to exasperate rather than enhance. If Cameron had utilised the technology only in the action scenes, as well as those wonderful views of the ship, similar to what Christopher Nolan did with IMAX in The Dark Knight, then Titanic in 3D would have been a hugely immersive and new experience.
It doesn’t ruin the movie on the whole though, and there is still a lot of enjoyment to be had, but the 3D aspect is unlikely to win over any of the doubters. Even Winslet’s wonderful breasts are ruined by the new dimension.
Outside of the 3D aspect that is sure to draw crowds, the re-release also serves as a great retrospective look at the performances of the leads, whose fresh faces from 15 years ago look as pristine as the film itself. I’ll admit I was not at all a fan of DiCaprio back in 1997; his boyishly handsome looks, coupled with his brat-like aura made it very difficult for me to like him, or even empathise with him as the story progressed. Seeing the film now, it’s as if Cameron somehow used his scientific knowhow to replace the old with the new. The boy has disappeared somewhat; the man, with all the suave and sophistication of Cobb in Inception and Daniels from Shutter Island and countless other, all that remains.
But Titanic was always Winslet’s show, and her majestic performance still reigns supreme. To this day, how the Academy managed to overlook her performance in Titanic remains a great travesty. Just like the ship herself, Winslet's performance is strong and true, exuding poise and elegance throughout, and looking as beautiful as she always has. She too has grown as an actress over the years to become not only the most adventurous actress of the 00’s generation, but also its finest. It’s strange that Titanic, while being her “breakthrough” and most remembered performance, arguably only just makes her top 5 so far in her superb career, behind turns in The Reader, Little Children, and her undoubted best in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Titanic has lost none of its majesty, and is still a wonderful achievement, both technically and visually. In particular the final hour, which still to this day remains a triumph in itself, and showcases Cameron doing what he does best: intense but spectacular action. Sure, the corny and saccharine first half is still a little bit of a chore and Billy Zane still terrible as the “villain” of the piece, but without it, all the technical brilliance in the world wouldn’t have made Titanic the accomplishment it is, and still remains an epic in every sense of the word.