I was 16 years old when Titanic first came out, and 16-year-old boys only went to see it if they had a girlfriend to go and see it with. Otherwise, why would they want to see a 3 hour film about a ship sinking with that soppy Leonardo DiCaprio starring in it? 15 years later and with the added excitement of 3D (!) and a wife to take along, why wouldn’t I go and see it?
Obviously Titanic was the biggest film of my generation, so it was nice to get the chance to go and watch it on the big screen, as God (or ‘James Cameron‘ as the rest of us call him) intended, and in that respect I certainly wasn’t disappointed. As a Big Screen Experience, Titanic is a great advertisement for going to the cinema, or at least it would be if doing so wasn’t so very expensive these days (over £30 for tickets, 3D glasses and snacks). But the scale of the film suits the cinema so much more than even the big TVs we all have these days.
And it’s the scale that blows you away, appropriately enough for a film about A Very Big Boat. Titanic was made at exactly the right time for special effects, because while it cost a fortune and was a huge undertaking, it all looks amazingly real. A few years later and it would have been a CGI-fest, whereas the lengths and expenses Cameron went to in making it give it a mostly very realistic look. And it is, of course, the story of one of the 20th Century’s biggest events, so it’s hard not to get sucked into the drama of it all.
But my problem has always been that Cameron didn’t think that was enough, so he had to create this whole fictional love story and the stuff with the diamond in the present day. While that does serve its purpose in giving us a narration to the events (though Old Rose) and the chance to incorporate some underwater footage of the real Titanic wreck, the actual love story is so hamfisted and cliched that I felt nothing when it came to its tragic end. And the deaths of all those people become a sideshow to just one couple and their doomed romance. And, as he’s admitted himself recently, Leonardo DiCaprio is really bad in it.
Of course, he’s turned into a respected actor, while Kate Winslet has also gone from strength to strength (though she was much better than her co-star her), but having such an annoying lead character does a lot of damage to the film. It would have been nice to see Cameron find a different way of bringing the story to life, but you can’t argue that it worked for him, so who am I to advise? And that’s the thing. You can review Titanic 3D all you like, but it’s one of the biggest films of all time and will remain so for as long as the Titanic remains a big part of our collective memory.
Seeing it on the big screen was just about worth the money we spent, and the long runtime didn’t feel so very bad, even if there’s so much that could have been left out without hindering the plot in any way. As for the 3D, at times you noticed it, but plenty of other times it was hard to tell if there was any 3D going on. And from the moment it strikes the iceberg to the last bit of the ship to go under, it’s about as thrilling a film as you can want to see, especially at the cinema. What drags it down (so to speak) is the rest of it, and that’s what makes it a big film, not a great one.
For Halloween this year, my wife and I decided to watch all (well, almost all) of the Halloween films, so it seemed like a good opportunity to review them for a Filmography feature too. Well, apart from one of the sequels and the two remakes, of course. So here's the saga of Michael Myers and a whole load of stabbing...