Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spoiler Alert: The ship still sinks.

This year marked the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. It's been a century since one of the world's largest luxury liners, plunged below the cold waters of the Atlantic and fell some odd 4KM to the bottom of the ocean. I know I don't have to tell anyone the story of the Titanic, as we all know it's a true story...despite what some people on Twitter may have thought.

The sinking of the Titanic as well as the folkore behind it's sinking and historical significance and mystery still pique the interest of people today. And so much that people were willing to see the 1997 film, twice and maybe even more. From my childhood I recall seeing it at least twice in theaters with my cousin. This was during the 90s and Leonardo DiCaprio was literally everywhere. This time we all wanted to see that massive hunk of iron go down, and we wanted to see Leonardo DiCaprio shout "I'm the king of the world!" And perhaps we wanted to go back to that time when Leonardo DiCaprio was not making our heads hurt with "Inception," we wanted to go back to a simpler time.

In 3D.

However, did Titanic really need a 3D release?

Last night, I decided to go see the film again in theaters (the first time was nearly 15 years ago) and I wanted to see if the film would still retain its allure.

What I did notice is that people really love the Titanic. Not so much love either, no, people are obsessed with this story. But people are moreso obsessed with the Jack and Rose saga than they are with the ship and this in evident in the way the film was structured, written, realized and marketed. Let's break this down realistically, the film itself is 3 hours and 14 minutes, and let's say under 30 minutes of this was solely dedicated to the ship.

Yet, no one would want to pay to see a history channel movie about the Titanic. All week long in observance of its sinking, documentaries have popped up like daisies explaining what happened with new technology. Despite all that reality of the basics the ship down rather quickly and a lot of people died, we want to see a love story.

We want to fill in the imagined lives of the people who were on the doomed ship, partly because so little information exists about the Titanic relatively and the information that does exist is the kind of information that you have to wade through. To put it bluntly: We want a reader's digest version of Titanic with accurate information on the ship and fudged accuracies of the people who were on it.

Yet, seeing the monster of a film that Titanic was for a second time prove to actually be more telling than I bargained for. I didn't expect to notice just how weak the script was, for example why oh why,early in the film, did Rose (Kate Winslet) speak about the mathematics of the lifeboats? This is the kind of dialogue that is really not suitable for the film yet is only there for expository information for audiences: we needed to know as history confims that the Titanic was insufficiently equipped. In another moment of history meets fiction, when the boat is said to be unsinkable, this dialogue transcribes:

01:43:10 Titanic will founder.

01:43:15 But this ship can't sink.

01:43:17 She's made of iron, sir. I assure you she can,

01:43:20 and she will.



At this moment in the film everyone is having a panic attack. Despite SEEING the boat getting punctured by the iceberg (which in 3D is STILL largely underwhelming for an iceberg) we need math to back up this outlandish claim that the ship could sink.

Also, what was up with DiCaprio's accent? He was American we know, but is the Chippewa Falls accent of Wisconsin really that hard to stomach? And for pete's sake the musical theme of the film at this point in time being laced throughout is not flattering but moreso nauseating. It would have helped if maybe it could have been re-done, but accordingly the only alterations done to the film---were stars??

So some patches of the dialogue in the film were really clunky and could have been scrapped, not to mention some questionable acting from fine actors (the problem REALLY is the script). Speaking of actors, it's the supporting cast that should get the acclaim this time around, Billy Zane was incredible as Calhoun, Rose's fiance who was as every bit scary as he was handsome.

All these flaws and not to mention, that the 3D effects weren't even that special. Come on, James Cameron, the movie raked in so much money its first go-round that we really couldn't splurge for 3D that would take us to that very night complete with replicated hypothermia.

No? Okay then, I suppose I'll just wait until Cameron starts offering deep-sea tours of the Titanic complete with the soundtrack.

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