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Titanic 3D - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Titanic 3D
Directing: B
Acting: B
Writing: C+
Cinematography: A-
Editing: A-
Special Effects: A-

If there's anyone who could make retrofitting an older movie into 3D worth the effort, it's James Cameron. The guy is a notorious perfectionist, after all; it's the whole reason the original production of Titanic seemed to get out of control, making everyone assume the movie itself would be a disaster. We all know that in the end, Cameron laughed all the way to the bank. The only reason he was able to top himself with Avatar twelve years later is because of the massive success of Titanic.

The guy spent $18 million on this 3D conversion, and honestly I'm not sure it was worth it. Given the respectable box office returns, certainly Paramount thinks it was. But what about the actual movie-going experience?

Let's be clear: until the ship starts sinking, Titanic is dumb as hell. Critics who love it will tell you it's a throwback to "classic" Hollywood epics, as if that alone makes a movie good and as if James Cameron didn't put some horribly clunky lines in his characters' mouths. Yes, it's cheesy, and no, there's no particularly good excuse for it to be. And in 3D? Well, it's just dumb in 3D.

This is not in any way the fault of Leonardo DiCaprio or Kate Winslet, who do have chemistry and, while this movie is far from either of their best work -- and they are both excellent actors -- do a serviceable job with the crap lines James Cameron wrote for them. To Cameron's credit, the love story he used as the movie's framework was clearly an effective strategy: it brought in the Chick Flick audiences while the sinking of the ship brought in the thrill seekers. That said, I can't say it has aged well.

But the sinking of the ship! If anything at all makes Titanic worth watching, that would be it. It's a visceral experience, and completely renders the cornball love story moot. To say it's mesmerizing doesn't even do it justice. The special effects are still jaw-dropping, even 15 years later. Well, mostly: I still get distracted by the sounds of Kate Winslet's heavy breathing not aligning with the heaving of her chest. There's a lot of that stuff if you look for it. Granted, most people aren't looking for it.

3D really adds nothing to the experience, however. The honest truth is that, in spite of its many flaws, I would have gone to see this movie in the theatre again even if it was re-issued in 2D. Adding the supposed third dimension -- particularly to older movies -- only allows theatres to increase ticket prices. They're just raking in the money, while the few 3D movies that do it right (Hugo; Pina) don't make as much as they deserve.

Honestly, converting Titanic to 3D was a waste of energy and resources. So what if we get to feel that much closer to Kate Winslet's big-ass hat? Don't get me wrong -- as 3D conversions go, Titanic was done well. But the experience of this movie in 3D is no different than it would have been had the movie just been reissued in its original format. It's seeing it on the big screen that makes the difference.

And there are some gorgeous images to behold in this movie. The cinematography is arguably its greatest quality, particularly in conjunction with the effects. It's almost enough to forgive lifeles lines like, "Your father left us nothing but a legacy of bad debts hidden by a good name." Blah blah blah. Snore. You think we haven't heard this shit a million times before, James?

Ahhh but the chaos! The panic! People ricocheting off of propellers! I'm not against love stories but the one found here is so weak it's simply no match for the thrill of watching that ship go down, and fill up with water. Okay, so much of that is patently unrealistic: characters spend far too much time in what is supposed to be freezing waters without so much as shivering (unless there is occasion to use it for dramatic effect), and constantly their clothes are dry remarkably quickly after getting soaked. Details! They mean comparatively little when a giant ocean liner is snapping in two. As such, the last half of the movie is a genuine thrill to watch, as long as you manage to get the hell out of the theatre before Celine Dion starts singing.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet fail to add dimension to TITANIC in 3D.

Overall: B
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