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REVIEW: "Titanic 3-D" Delivers

Jeremy Fuster |
April 7, 2012 | 6:29 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

 Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures


What can be said about this film that hasn't been said already?  The controversial director, James Cameron.  The insane budget.  The pre-release mockery.  The record-breaking box office numbers.  The hordes of teenage girls that turned the film into the "Twilight" of the 90s.  The record-tying 11 Oscars that it won.  The controversial acceptance speech by Cameron.  The backlash that continues to this day.  And that's before we even begin to address the film itself.  The naive but irresistible romanticism.  The cheesy dialogue.  The almost obsessive-compulsive attention to detail.  The metamorphosis from gentle escapist romance to tragic disaster once the iceberg hits.  The  wonderful musical score.  The almost superhuman beauty of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.  Oh, and Celine Dion.  CELINE.  BLEEPING. DION.

Well, it's back.  One week before the centennial anniversary of the most famous maritime disaster in history, and almost fifteen years since its original release, "Titanic" has been re-released in 3-D format.  Ever since the release of "Avatar" three years ago, James Cameron has been considered the top man in the new era of 3-D format, eschewing the amusement-park "throw-stuff-at-the-screen" style that is often used in favor of a more subtle form that enhances environments and makes them feel deeper and more real.  Read any interview with Cameron about how he approaches 3-D filming, and you will see that he has some good ideas about how it can enhance the film experience.

Since this is a rerelease, "Titanic 3-D" will be judged by how well it uses the 3-D technology and whether or not it really makes a difference.  The answer is a definite YES.  One of the major reasons why "Titanic" -- and for that matter, "Avatar" -- became such major hits is because of their ability to immerse audiences in their worlds through excellent special effects, art direction and set design, No one in the film industry is better at immersion than Cameron.  "Titanic" was already good at immersing viewers in the stately grandeur of the doomed ship that would become the stage for Jack and Rose's equally doomed but emotionally soaring romance.  This rerelease takes it up a notch, with footage that was not only retrofitted for the 3-D, but also polished up for a sharper image.  When seen in IMAX, the difference is clear and significant.

The feeling of immersion also escalates as the film goes on.  At the start of the film, when Brock Lovett and his crew explore the Titanic wreck in their deep-sea sub, the 3-D is barely noticeable.  But once Rose begins to tell her story and we are taken back to the Titanic, the effect kicks in, and the visual spectacle of the ship leaving port in Southampton is something to truly behold, even if you hate that "King of the World" quote.

Of course, the 3-D goes from great to excellent the moment the ship starts going down.  While the effects were very natural and subtle up to this point, they become very apparent in the film's second half, but in a good way.  The best part is when Rose and Jack attempt to escape from the flooding lower decks.  The 3-D makes the claustrophobic terror experienced by the couple much more real, because it makes the decreasing lack of breathing room much more noticeable.  There is also the stunning sight of the Titanic's final moments, as the stern crashes into the water with Rose and Jack hanging on to the railing.  It's probably the closest Cameron gets to the in-your-face style of 3-D usually found in Michael Bay films, but that only makes the scene stand out even more because of how the effects were used up to this point.

Let's face it.  If you hated "Titanic" when it first came out, regardless of your reasons, this rerelease isn't going to change your mind.  Everything that fueled the backlash is still there.  Also, the film is only being shown in 3-D, meaning you are being asked to pay at least $10 for a film released fifteen years ago.  That said, if you are a mega-fan of "Titanic," or you enjoyed the film when you first saw it but have never seen it on a big screen, you should give it a look.  "Titanic 3-D" is not only the best  3-D rerelease to date, it is also one of the best 3-D films yet.  James Cameron has once again given a good reason why we should all put the glasses on.

Reach Jeremy here.



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