James Cameron‘s record-breaking classic Titanic is back in theaters this weekend, but after a lengthy post-conversion to 3D. Cameron’s been mentioning the film’s re-release since before Avatar even came out. The question everybody wants to know can finally be answered. Is the re-release another cash-grab effort to secure funds for Avatar 2 or is it actually worthy of your three and a half hours? I’m here to tell you that it’s definitely worth it. It’s easily one of the better conversions I’ve yet to see, with only a few specific scenes holding it back from being perfect. Say what you will about Titanic, but you can’t discredit Cameron’s carefully planned and precise conversion.
My Titanic 3D review is going to read similar to my review for Star Wars: Episode 1 3D. I’m not going to focus on the actual film and breakdown the directing, acting, writing and so forth because Titanic has been widely available for years and you should know by now if it’s your cup of tea or not, so while I might chime in with some comments, I’d like to mainly focus on the 3D conversion and how it impacts the viewing of the film overall. So, my format might not be as neat and organized as usual, but it’s going to have to do for now.
Touching up very briefly on the story, Titanic centers on the relationship of third class passenger Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and first class passenger Rose (Kate Winslet). Two people from two different ways of life meet under troubled circumstances and fall deeply in love. Titanic is Cameron’s love story on the grandest scale, with A-list actors and a more than modest budget. It was uncharted territory for Cameron at the time and a big risk for the studios and it paid off. It went on to be the first film to gross over a billion dollars worldwide and it wasn’t until Cameron’s Avatar when it was finally dethroned.
Titanic 3D brings all of those moments back to life on the big screen in three dimensions. For the first time ever you get to witness Jack and Rose at the front of the ship in that memorable flying pose. You also get to witness the entire destruction of the ship, from the tense iceberg collision to the sinking of the massive ship. Fans of Titanic will want to revisit the film in theaters just for nostalgic moments alone. It holds up well against time and I honestly enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time I watched it.
The acting is still the strongest part of the film, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet‘s undying chemistry anchoring the film and Cameron’s epic storytelling scope providing the backing. There are a few scenes that feel a little out of place or unusually toned with the rest of the film, but that’s the waters you must swim in when taking on the genre of romance. Some lines may sound forced or too much to some while others will simply fall in love with specific dialogue because of how it makes them feel.
But where the story divides the audiences the 3D should bring everyone back together. Titanic 3D is an immersive experience that only adds to the scale of the film. The film subtly eases you into the format with things like smoke and water providing you with a sense of depth, but as the ship starts sinking you’ll begin to feel a little closer to the action. Hallways become long and narrow as they fill up with cold water. There’s just something about water and 3D that makes a good film even better to watch.
Post-converted 3D gets pushed to the limits with Titanic 3D, but the limits do have boundaries, much like the unsinkable ship presented in the film. While Cameron’s film looks marvelous in 3D it does come with more than one occasion of disoriented judder. Several scenes of frantic panicking become hard to watch due to the cameras distance from the actors. Nowadays directors know that if they want to shake the camera up they’re going to have to pull it back so viewers don’t start to feel sick or uneasy when watching in 3D, but obviously Cameron had no idea back then that he’d be converting the film. So, on occasion the film might feel blurry or unstable in the 3D format, but that’s only when things are real close and moving quickly. I noticed it during a dance scene and briefly towards the end when everyone is running around the ship trying to figure out a way to survive.
Had James Cameron filmed Titanic today, in native 3D, then I think this review would be much more positive. Cameron is a master craftsman, who is always trying to change the game, whether it’s making an expensive, massive scaled romance or a groundbreaking 3D film. He almost always achieves his goals, despite his shortcomings in the story department. Titanic doesn’t suffer from a weak story as much as it does being a little too mushy for some. The 3D is proof that if you want to convert a classic title properly it can be done with the right amount of time and effort. Cameron devoted years making the film look detailed and layered for a 3D audience and it does show. Those that didn’t like the film when it was first released probably shouldn’t attend a 3D showing because then we’ll have to hear you complain about how you wasted 3 hours of your life and that’s perfectly fair, but you can’t deny the commitment Cameron tends to have for all of his projects.
I was even more consumed in the film watching it in 3D. Characters came to life and the ship/setting became an even more important part of the film than ever before. Titanic deserves all of the praise it’s gotten and Titanic 3D deserves to be called one of the best post-converted 3D films in release.
Titanic 3D – 9/10