Movie Name: Titanic
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date(s): November 1, 1997 (Tokyo International Film Festival)/December 19, 1997 (US)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) and his crew are secretly searching the wreck of the Titanic for the legendary Heart of the Ocean diamond which might have secretly been on board. When they are contacted by Rose Dawson Calvert (Gloria Stuart) and her granddaughter, they learn that Rose is the last surviving passenger of the Titanic and her tale of survival involving the arranged marriage of Rose (Kate Winslet) to millionaire Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) and discovering the love of her life in a poor traveler named Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Directed by James Cameron, Titanic became the biggest film ever made at the time (knocked out by Cameron’s follow-up Avatar). The movie, in addition to being a powerhouse at the box-office, also garnered critical acclaim. It won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Effects—Sound Effects Editing, Best Effects—Visual Effects, Best Music—Original Song (“My Heart Will Go On”), Best Music—Original Score with nominations for Best Actress (Kate Winslet), Best Supporting Actress (Gloria Stuart), and Best Makeup. The movie in 2012 was rereleased in a converted 3D version and once again scored at the box office.
Titanic was fine the first time I saw it. The three hours felt like three hours, but it was a spectacle. When the movie was being released, there was rumors and fears that the expensive film would be a big box office bomb…instead it became a legendary success against all odds.
Titanic is hindered most by its plot and weak script. The story plods along for literally an hour and a half with cliché class discussion and a predictable love story before becoming involved in the sinking in which all the main characters completely lose their minds and begin acting like idiots. Zane’s character is too self-centered but even smart enough to know that survival is better than revenge…it isn’t very realistic for him to abandon his chance of escape to shoot at Rose and Jack (who by all means should be doomed anyway). Of course you get the classic ending where Rose hogs the door until Jack dies.
For all the talk, the acting is pretty poor. Kate Winslet is a great actress but this definitely isn’t her best. Be it the poor dialogue, but all the characters feel like they are reading their lines…the script just doesn’t work. Leonardo DiCaprio suffers the same fate as Jack and most of the other characters (besides maybe Kathy Bates as the Unsinkable Molly Brown), are stock characters that never really develop on their own. The “present day” segments with Bill Paxton and Gloria Stuart also are pretty lofty and weak as well. It is like dialogue from a bad romance novel throughout.
The saving grace for Titanic is that it looks (and still looks) great. Be it the pre-wreck sequences showing the glory of the ship, Cameron went to pretty big lengths to make it realistic. A Night to Remember might be the classic telling of this story, but it was served well by remaking the wreck. I wish they had worked harder on the script (and cut it down by an hour).
Titanic is one of those really glossy pictures that is fine when you are watching it for the first time and then you think about it more and realize how stupid it was. The movie has had a lot of critical backlash since its release as a result and now often is listed as one of the worst Best Pictures (which I agree with). Titanic is a bloated movie with no script and weak acting…the only saving grace is the recreation of the sinking…too bad the Rose and Jack get in the way.
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