It’s been over a decade since James Cameron‘s epic romance Titanic first set sail on the big screen and yet here I sit years later, still excited to revisit the monumental film on Blu-ray for the first time. Cameron’s film recently saw a 3D re-release earlier this year and with that came the news of a digitally remastered Blu-ray release to follow, promising the best picture, sound and enormous amounts of bonus features to make the upgrade worthy of purchase. Does this 4 disc combo pack make for one of the better catalog releases of the year or does it simply sink under all of the much-anticipated pressure?
The story of Titanic is known throughout the globe and yet despite its generic and fairly safe approach to romance, it still manages to please. Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a poor third-class passenger on board of the world’s largest ship at the time, one that was called unsinkable. Rose (Kate Winslet) couldn’t be any more opposite than Jack, being born and bred in a first-class world with the most expensive clothes, jewelry and just about anything else you can imagine.
The two meet by mistake, but the more they interact the more their predetermined fate and strong connection starts to become apparent. What follows is a massive-scaled romance that details the tragic events leading to the sinking of the giant boat Titanic as it crashes into an iceberg and slowly sinks into the deep, dark and cold ocean waters, to remain dormant for eternity.
James Cameron likes to approach all of his films with a mindset of changing the way we look at films. He did so with the sci-fi classic The Terminator and again when he sequelized it with Terminator 2: Judgment Day. He explores Titanic through a new lens, bringing an epic romance to the big screen unlike anything before it, with a deep interest in Titanic’s rich history and the need to tell one of the largest love stories of our time.
Titanic might get knocked on for its sappy nature and general spoon-feeding of mushy dialogue and memorable scenes that ladies around the world cry over every time they re-watch the film, but that shouldn’t take away from what a technical achievement Titanic is. Cameron built a massive scope for such an intimate love story and in doing so he accomplishes what many directors only dream of. He’s made a timeless romance that has aged perfectly, with not a single shred of heart getting lost during the years it has laid on the shelf.
There’s a visual beauty and general awe that Titanic holds with its wide shots of the magnificent ship and the numerous terrifying scenes towards the end of the film when everything starts to become one with the water. It’s an intense moment watching the ship take its final voyage into the icy ocean and even though history has already been written the film still feels like something with a living, breathing pulse. Deep down inside you’re rooting for Jack and Rose, because their inseparable love feels like a driving force that has no barriers.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet help make the romance and the beauty of it all feel that much more real. They have skillful chemistry that is as strong as can be, with each of them bringing their own interpretation of true love to the film. DiCaprio has become something of a heartthrob for girls around the world and respectfully so, because his performance really is a culmination of every dream guy and Kate Winslet opposites that with a more layered approach of that lost girl in the wrong life, just waiting for someone to come and sweep her off her feet.
Yes, Titanic follows formula to an exact T, but it almost feels like that was Cameron’s intentions all along. To tell the biggest absolute romance tale of them all, on the biggest and grandest scale, using an equally large ship as a backdrop. He successfully made both his epic love story and his epic ocean adventure that simultaneously teaches us some history of the ship while enlightening us with a harmless romance that works because of its effective simplicity.
I’ve always enjoyed Titanic and considered it one of Cameron’s better films, especially when compared to Avatar, True Lies or Aliens, but I won’t completely turn a blind eye towards its many problems. I believe that the best way to approach the film is with the understanding of Cameron’s intentions and how he managed to make such a small story seem so big and so extraordinary.
*I also wrote about the recent theatrical 3D release of the film right here.*
Video: Titanic comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Paramount Pictures with a remarkable 1080p transfer that captures the essence and beauty of the film, while maintaining the film-like presentation. The image holds lots of endless depth and color, with deep blacks that go on forever and finer detail like skin tones and clothing full of such texture and detail. This is a masterly transfer that is rich and full of exuberant colors. Titanic is simply a knockout that is comparable to some of today’s recent releases in terms of quality.
The image does occasionally feature soft glow and almost a halo-like effect, but not once does the said effect rob any given scene of clarity or structure.
Audio: The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track another massive achievement for catalog titles and new release Blu-ray titles. It’s an example of pure power, firing on all cylinders for a majority of the film. The opening minutes might fool you with the soft music and calm dialogue, but once the ship’s engine fires up the track becomes a fully-engaging experience, filled with hearty detail and bombastic energy. The front and back channels take turns filling the track with deck ambiance and the usual at-sea jargon, but there’s always a clear and distinctive line dedicated for dialogue and the more important musical cues. Listening to Titanic‘s lossless audio track will literally transport you onto the ship.
Paramount proudly brings the film to Blu-ray with hours upon hours of bonus material, in both high definition and standard definition. Here is a detailed list of the features:
- 3 Audio Commentary Tracks: There are three audio tracks presented on disc one. The first features director James Cameron, the second features various cast and crew members and the third with Historians Don Lynch and Ken Marschall. Each track offers up a different approach to the film, which definitely helps put it into perspective.
- Reflections on Titanic (HD): A four-part feature that details almost everything about the film, from pre-release buzz to the eventual everlasting appeal that it has had on modern culture. The cast and crew are extensively seen in this feature, chatting up box office numbers and the sudden rise to fame and how important the film was as one of the last big romantic epics.
- Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron (HD): This feature clocks in over an hour and a half, with director James Cameron leading the discussion about what really happened to the RMS Titanic.
- Deleted Scenes (HD): Almost an hour long batch of deleted scenes, all presented in high definition with an optional James Cameron commentary track.
- 31 Behind-the-Scenes features (SD): Most of these features are short and only about a minute or two long, but they’re all very technical and full of lots of knowledge and detail that you probably wouldn’t have even thought of. Lots of it has to deal with the making-of aspect of the film and the various giant set pieces and technical challenges Cameron and his crew had to overcome while filming.
- Construction Timelapse (SD): A look at the making of the ship, which took 100 days and lots and lots of workers.
- Deep Dive Presentation Narrated by James Cameron (SD): A 15-minute tour of the wrecked Titanic ship with Cameron discussing his love and general interest for underwater explorations.
- $200,000,001: A Ship’s Odyssey (The Titanic Crew Video) (SD): An extended behind-the-scenes gag reel.
- Videomatics (SD): A three-part look at the pre-visualization aspect of filming various scenes in the film, like the sinking sequence and the deep dive.
- Visual Effects (SD): A three-part how-to breakdown that details how they filmed 3 specific scenes, plus a simulation of the ship sinking.
- Music Video (SD): My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion.
- Trailers (SD & HD): Almost every teaser and theatrical trailer produced for the film, both for its original 2D release and its 2012 3D release.
- TV Spots (SD): Same thing, but now an extensive list of all the TV spots released for the film.
- Still Galleries (HD): Six different image galleries that include storyboard sequences, production artwork, photographs, paintings, concept posters and one sheets.
- Titanic Parodies (SD & HD): Several interesting Titanic parodies that goes to show how much of an impact the film has had on our society since its 1997 release.
- DVD Copy
- Digital Copy
Over ten years and 1 billion dollars later, Titanic is still making an impact on the world. James Cameron‘s epic romance will live on forever, regardless of what I have to say about the film. I’m one of those rare people that isn’t afraid to admit that I like the film now just as much as I did when it first came out. Titanic is a flawed romance, but something that overcomes those flaws because of its technical features and because of its strong and talented leads that capture the magic and warmth of love. James Cameron might not be the most mentally stimulating filmmaker or one that challenges you to think beyond the screen, but he’s still an incredibly gifted person that knows scope and proper elevation.
Titanic is one of the last true Hollywood epics. Cameron’s follow-up film Avatar might boast the same impressive array of groundbreaking imagery and visuals, but the story isn’t nearly as rooted and simple as Titanic and that is why it fails. Titanic gets points for simplicity, which is something most would get docked for. It’s the ultimate romance set on massive scale and it’s something of an achievement on Blu-ray.
The 4 disc combo pack is filled to the limit with detailed bonus material and so much extra content that makes you relive the creation of the film, from start to finish, over and over again. Watching it on Blu-ray will feel as if you’re watching it for the first time and that’s because of Paramount’s incredible precision and time spent transferring the film properly. I know for a fact that Cameron had a hand in the process and it clearly shows, because the image remains strong and film-like, while still letting out so much vivid color and contrast. The audio track is just as strong, with so many levels of sound and clarity.
Picking up Titanic on Blu-ray is a no-brainer. You’ll want to pick up the combo pack if you like the film in any capacity or if you simply want a catalog disc to show off to your friends. It’s that good of a disc and something that is well-worth the upgrade. Fans should be more than pleased and newcomers might be surprised with the film’s ability to suck you into the story and never let go, despite the film’s unfortunate, but inevitable conclusion.
Movie – 9/10
Video – 10/10
Audio – 10/10
Special Features – 10/10
Titanic was released on Blu-ray on September 10th, 2012.