What would be of the utmost importance to you if you found out you were about to die? Would you start buying all the material things you’d always wanted knowing you wouldn’t be around long enough to worry about paying for them? Would you see all the sights you could squeeze into the time you had left? Would you gather family and friends around and enjoy being in their company with your dwindling days? Would you settle old scores with those who had wronged you with the precious little time you have remaining? As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had the opportunity to see family and friends slip this mortal coil and go to their great reward. It has made me more thankful for what and who I have in my life and less tolerant of the people and things that simply want to suck the life out of what remains of my life. I hope that if I learn my time is brief I’ll be mature enough to let old hurts pass and try to enjoy my final moments in this existence. I hope I’m not like the villain in this week’s film, 1997’s “Titanic” re-released in 3D, and go gunning for the lower class boy who stole his fiancé.
Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) come from different sides of the tracks. He is a poor, homeless vagabond who is trying to get back home to Wisconsin after traveling through Europe trying to become the next great artist but with no luck. She is from a wealthy family and is the fiancé of steel baron’s son named Cal Hockley (Billy Zane). Cal treats Rose like another of his expensive possessions and she is miserable. Cal hopes giving Rose an expensive piece of jewelry, a diamond necklace called the Heart of the Ocean, will warm her heart towards him, but it is just another pretty thing that Cal owns, just like he thinks he owns her. Jack wins tickets on the maiden voyage of the Titanic in a dockside poker game. He and his buddy Fabrizio (Danny Nucci) are hoping to find better lives in America while Rose believes her life will be over if she marries Cal. Rose plans on jumping off the back of the ship but is stopped by Jack. They begin a friendship that is frowned upon by Cal and Rose’s mother Ruth (Frances Fisher). Jack shows Rose what life is like for the third class passengers in steerage and she fits in better than he expects. The two begin what is destined to be a tragic love affair destined to end tragically, just like the ship they are on.
Despite the 14 years and quantum leaps in digital technology that have occurred since its original release, “Titanic” is still a grand, sweeping and impressive epic that holds up well. I had never seen the movie in its entirety but was familiar with the love story, the class struggle and the, at the time, groundbreaking special effects used to recreate the sinking of the Titanic. I knew the primary attraction for the largely female fans of the movie was the star-crossed lovers and their tragic fate. Men who liked the movie could have done without that part of the story and would have loved to save two hours or so by just getting to the sinking and the action that occurs concurrently with it. Of course director James Cameron, who also wrote the script, wasn’t making a Discovery Channel special on the disaster (although I think he has made at least one since); he was making a tragic love story that used the sinking as a backdrop. There are several instances where the characters make plans that you know will never happen and discuss how unsinkable Titanic is when we know it will be on the ocean floor (SPOILERS: along with Jack) when the closing credits and Celine Dion’s iconic love song begin.
Despite a florid and schmaltzy script and Billy Zane chewing enough scenery to have not needed craft services during the filming, “Titanic” is a surprisingly entertaining film. While I dreaded the prospect of sitting through a three hour and 15 minute love/disaster story (SPOILERS: don’t order the large drink at the concessions stand), I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been an hour or so shorter and still just as good. There are plenty of places to nip a bit here and there to trim the running time down to something short of a lifetime.
The 3D conversion is well done as one might expect from Cameron, a champion and innovator of the format, but it is also completely unnecessary. The centennial of the doomed ship setting sail from England is April 10th. The universal interest in Titanic would have generated more than enough ticket sales for a re-mastered digital print of the film in theatres without adding the extra ticket expense of 3D. The 3D post-conversion of “Titanic” is certainly better than the one done for “Clash of the Titans” a few years ago, but it doesn’t really add anything to the experience. If you are on the fence about shelling out a premium price to see the film in its new format and you saw it in theatres the first time, don’t bother.
“Titanic 3D” is rated PG-13 for violence, sensuality, nudity, brief language and disaster related peril. There are scattered acts of violence with none being terribly intense. We see Rose and Jack post-coitus in the car making pillow talk. We see both a sketch of Rose and Rose herself topless. There are numerous scenes as the boat sinks of people panicking and doing whatever they can to survive. We also see several people fall to their deaths as the stern of Titanic rises of the water. Foul language is widely scattered. There is one instance of an obscene gesture.
Billy Zane’s Cal Hockley chases Jack and Rose into the ship and tries to shoot them with his bodyguard’s gun as water fills the vessel and threatens to kill them all. If there was one part of the story that seemed to be way over the top, that was it. If I’m watching freezing cold water surge through the decks of the cruise ship I’m on, I’m letting go of any grudges I’m holding until I get on dry line, then it’s game on. Aside from this, “Titanic” is entertaining and the special effects hold up after all this time. Now if Cameron could find 30 to 60 minutes to trim from its running time, it would be a little closer to perfect.
“Titanic 3D” gets four guitars out of five.
Four new films, including the documentary that caused a stink with the ratings board, arrive in theatres this week. Vote for the next movie I see and review.
The Cabin in the Woods—Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen.
If you think you know this story, think again.
Lockout—On an orbiting prison 50 miles above the earth where the world's most dangerous criminals are kept asleep, the prisoners are suddenly awakened, and only a wrongly-convicted government agent can rescue the President's daughter from the deep space prison riot.
The Three Stooges—Left on a nun's doorstep, Larry, Curly and Moe grow up finger-poking, nyuk-nyuking and woo-woo-wooing their way to uncharted levels of knuckleheaded misadventure.
Bully—Bully follows five kids and families over the course of a school year. Stories include two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus.
Stan’s Choice—Stan sees and reviews any film currently in theatres.
Release dates are subject to change and not all films may be shown in Knoxville, TN.