Blu-ray 3D Edition
Review by Michael Jacobson
Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Gloria Stuart,
Director: James Cameron
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 194 Minutes
Release Date: September 10, 2012
"They said Titanic was the ship of dreams. And it was."
Oh, what a tale is the story of Titanic. It plays like
a modern day parable, a tale of caution, a message with a moral, yet it was no
fable. It's fraught with so much
dramatic irony that it would almost be implausible if it weren't so
horrifyingly real. It was said not
even God could sink her, but sink she did, though it took an extraordinary
number of factors to fall into place for her to do so.
If the ship hadn't been running full steam, if the voyage hadn't
taken place that time of year, if the lookout hadn't lost his binoculars, if
the sea hadn't been so calm as to conceal the iceberg, if the ship had hit it
dead on instead of making the fateful swerve that allowed the berg to rip open
her side...and if only she had been equipped with the correct number of
It's no wonder the fated ship has been the subject of
films ever since the silent era, but at long last, the responsibility of telling
the story fell into the hands of the right filmmaker, James Cameron.
He's a director with enough of an action background to convey visually
what a nightmare the sinking was, and with this movie, he proved he also had
what it took to tell the story in the best possible way, combining remarkable
historical detail with a fictional story of two young lovers who unknowingly
were doomed to fate just by stepping on board.
What always impresses me about this film is how much the
two elements of the story feed off one another, and each grows stronger in the
process. Had it been only the love
story, it might have been a decent film, but one that played too closely to the
numbers to achieve greatness. Likewise,
had Cameron merely told the tale of the ship sinking, it would have been a
thrilling marvel of special effects, but probably leaving the audience curiously
detached. The right balance is
struck here, and with an impeccable sense of rhythm and timing, Cameron allows
both to develop and breathe in their own time and space, and doesn't merely
rush through one to get to the other. The
resulting film is long...three and a quarter hours, to be exact...but it never
gets boring. Consider especially
that the ship sinks practically in real time in this movie. Witnessing the peril of those aboard, we don't want it to
hurry up any more than they do.
When the film debuted, it was well received critically, and even more so by the audience, who sent the box office totals for this film soaring all the way to being the number one money maker of all time in this country, and a world wide record of over a billion dollars. However, as with anything that achieves that kind of popularity that quickly, backlash was swift and inevitable. Soon, it seemed to become intellectually chic to dislike this movie, to dislike Leonardo DiCaprio, and especially, to dislike James Cameron. The record tying 11 Oscars won did nothing but fuel those fires. And that's a shame, because it's all unmerited.
This is a great film-one that reaches down into the annals of Hollywood
history to bring good old fashioned storytelling to the big screen, but also one
that took every advantage of 90s resources to assure that every moment in the
life and death of the great ship was as real as could be.
This movie cost about $200 million to make, but not a cent of it was
wasted, and not a bit of it was gratuitous.
The weaving of effects into the storyline to create powerful and
memorable images replete with emotion set a new standard in filmmaking, and left
movie audiences cold when it came to the empty special effects films that
followed like Godzilla and Wild Wild West.
The backlash against Leo was equally unwarranted. He may be a teen idol to millions of young girls everywhere, but still-he is a talented, strong actor. If you don't seem to remember that, go back and see The Basketball Diaries or What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Or check out his recent triumphs in The Aviator or Blood Diamond. In this film, he brings a likeable charm to the character of Jack Dawson, a man who's poor in status but not in spirit.
good, though, is the beautiful Kate Winslet as Rose, who not only is one of the
best actresses of recent years, but also has the most luminous face to radiate
from the screen since the golden age of Hollywood.
And of course, my favorite lady, Kathy Bates...as usual, she steals every
scene she's in.
And lastly, why criticize James Cameron? Some may not like the man's ego, but I strongly suggest this picture could not have been made without it. It went so far over budget that two studios had to unite to pick up the tab. After many delays and reported problems, the press was watering at the mouth to ravish this film upon release as they did with the equally troubled Waterworld. It took a man who believed in his heart that he knew better than everyone else to stake his reputation and his future on the financial success of this film, which would need to gross at least $400 million at the box office to break even.
And he was proven
right. The "king of the world",
"This ship can't sink!"
"She's made of iron, sir...I assure you, she can."
This is what fans have been waiting for. Yes, James Cameron has fully embraced 3D technology; we can argue about the merits another time. I want to talk about the results. They are phenomenal. Considering the movie wasn't filmed in 3D, it certainly comes across with remarkable visual clarity. I often thought when watching it originally that it would have made a good 3D film, and I was correct. The colors, intricate sets and lush art direction make for a visual banquet, and every detail is rendered with crispness and clarity. The final stretch of film, which takes place mostly under a night sky, looks sharp and superb. With all the extras and such, this movie is now spread over two discs. Maybe not ideal, but certainly a better decision than using extra compression.
"The water is freezing and there aren't enough boats...
Half the people on this ship are going to die."
The DTS HD soundtrack is completely remarkable, too, with well
deserved Academy Award decorations. The
sound is integral to the emotion-the screams of the dying, the ship ripping
apart, the panic and chaos, and of course, James Horner's excellent score. The multi-channel mix makes excellent use
of front and rear stages, with strong balance and excellent, smooth crossovers
(notice, for example, early on when the helicopter zooms overhead). The
discretion is perfect in this mix, and even the .1 channel gets a good workout
when the ship starts going down.
This is what Blu-ray sound is all
"Don't you say goodbye, Rose!"
Now THIS is more like it. The original release had only a trailer; this special collector's edition has everything BUT. For starters, there are three terrific commentary tracks. One has James Cameron, who had resisted commenting on his film before, but acquiesced to fan pressure and stepped up to the mike to deliver the details. It's a rich, fascinating listen. A second commentary features the producers and cast members, cut together and using the subtitle feature to keep track of who is who. You'll hear from Kate Winslet, Bill Paxton, Gloria Stuart and others. The third commentary features two of the film's historical consultants, who connect what we see in the movie to actual events.
There are two new feature length documentaries...one is a look back, but more impressive, is the "final word". James Cameron gathered a group of experts from all fields to analyze the clues, use computerized engineering, and compiled what we now believe is to be what really happened that fateful night. Cameron admits he got a few details wrong under the presence of new knowledge, but instead of tinkering with his movie, he instead crafts a NEW computer generated image compiling all known details that shows the ship from striking the iceberg to how it ended up on the bottom of the sea. Remarkably interesting and entertaining!
There are 60 (you read that right) behind-the-scenes featurettes, a gallery of trailers (including the 3D re-release one), and even a selection of deleted scenes...in 3D. Finally, there is a bonus digital copy available.
Are you ready to go back to Titanic? If it's been 15 years since you took the journey, now is the time to revisit. It's a terrific, unforgettable film, well deserving of its accolades, not to mention a great looking and sounding Blu-ray packaged with nice extras. This is one of the year's must-owns.