‘Titanic’ sails splendidly in 3-D

Article Published: Apr. 12, 2012 | Modified: Apr. 12, 2012
‘Titanic’ sails splendidly in 3-D

James Cameron’s ‘Titanic’ sails into the third dimension.

I’ll always associate James Cameron with “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”

His work with Arnold Schwarzenegger earned him four Oscars in 1992, but let’s face it, the director’s known for an altogether different film: “True Lies.”

But seriously, folks.

“Titanic” is Cameron’s most popular legacy, and for good reason. It’s a sweeping disaster epic, laced with an unabashedly saccharine love story, all of which harken back to a golden age of cinema – and now in 3-D.

Post-production 3-D has never been very impressive, typically muddying the image and cheapening the experience, all while robbing the audience’s collective wallet. But we’re talking James Cameron here, the man who made 3-D all the rage with the visually stunning but ultimately underwhelming “Avatar,” which has the distinction of being the first film shot entirely with 3-D cameras, the development of which Cameron also takes some credit.

Put simply, he knows his 3-D and works post-production magic on a 15-year-old motion picture. The whole concept of rereleasing older movies in 3-D is gimmicky at its core, as original ideas in Hollywood seem fewer and farther between than ever, but Cameron’s treatment on “Titanic” is superb.

Avoiding the arbitrary “objects leaping out at you” gimmick for more subtle effects, such as depth of field and thematic focusing, Cameron manages to make a 3-D rerelease actually seem classy.

Furthermore, he doesn’t tweak or “correct” the film for later realized inaccuracies or inconsistencies, a la George Lucas, even saying in a recent interview, “… once you start that, how do you stop?”
When “Titanic” was first announced, most of us knew how the film would end – the ship sinks.

However, Cameron added a human touch via a tragic love story, making it not so much about the destination, but rather the journey.

Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Departed”) and Rose (Kate Winslet, “The Reader”) are Cameron’s star-crossed lovers, the former a vagabond artist and the latter an aristocratic beauty, both passengers on the Titanic’s first – and final – voyage.

Engaged to maliciously pompous Cal (Billy Zane, “The Phantom”), Rose has never felt at home in high society, instead wishing to live life on her own terms – something she finally realizes is possible upon meeting Jack.

The two embark on a whirlwind romance, only to be interrupted by a cruel twist of fate when the ship strikes an iceberg in the North Atlantic. Despite its architects, designers and financiers hailing it as unsinkable, the ship rapidly begins taking on water in the dead of night, with only enough lifeboats to accommodate a mere third of its 2,000-plus passengers.

As the ship sinks ever lower into the freezing waters and its doomed passengers realize the gravity of their situation, pandemonium breaks loose, and Jack and Rose’s attempts at survival are threatened further by a spiteful – and armed, mind you – Cal.

The story is cheesy, but effective, and fully hits its stride in the second act, as Cameron skillfully depicts the Titanic’s final hour. Seen on the big screen, it’s morbidly spellbinding, and the old-school special effects with their new 3-D trappings are nothing short of captivating, still superior to today’s overused computer-generated imagery.

Admittedly, “Titanic” has never been one of my favorite films, and I avoided it like the plague after its hyped-out original release, missing it entirely in theaters. That Celine Dion song was a surefire deterrent, and Cameron proclaiming himself “King of the World” at the Oscars only made matters worse.

Revisiting it almost 15 years later, however, was a pleasant surprise. Maybe it’s grown better with age, or maybe my tastes have changed, but it wasn’t anywhere near the three-and-a-half hour chore I’d anticipated. I’ll leave that for the inevitable “Avatar” rerelease.

“Titanic 3-D,” rated PG-13 for disaster related peril and violence, nudity, sensuality and brief language, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, see page 25 or visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.

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