Friday, April 13, 2012

Review: 'Titanic: An IMAX 3D Experience'

15 years after its initial release in 1997 (has it seriously been that long?!), James Cameron is bringing his ultra-successful blockbuster back to the big screen, with the added novelty of 'Titanic' appearing in 3 dimensions.  The big question is-- is this "limited engagement" even necessary, and does it deserve my hard-earned money to see again in theaters?  The answer is almost as big as the ship itself: YES & YES.

In case you were on Pluto when 'Titanic' came out, the film is the tried-and-true story of star-crossed lovers who overcome all odds to follow their hearts and fight for everlasting love on the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic in 1912.  With dialogue that's, at times, almost as corny as my previous sentence, this mammoth of a movie could have easily collapsed on a trite story line, bloated budget, and ludicrously high expectations.  But like its main characters (and unlike the ship itself), 'Titanic' rises up to absolutely entertain on sheer human emotion and spectacle.

Jack Dawson (Leonardio DiCaprio) is a poor & happy Wisconsin boy who has made his life as a travelling artist, laying his head wherever he ends up at the end of the day.  Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) is the well-to-do fiance' of an elitist oil tycoon named Cal (played brilliantly by Billy Zane).  Jack boards Titanic after winning a ticket during a lucky poker hand; Rose is on her way back to Philadelphia to wed Cal, albeit against her will, in order to retain her family's position as a wealthy name after her father's untimely death.  Jack meets Rose when she half-heartedly attempts suicide in order to gain attention.  Jack talks Rose off the ledge and also provides her a look at what it's like to sieze the day (which women find incredibly sexy... trust me).  The two inevitably fall for each other and fight for their love... both against the stereotypes of their class, as well as the circumstances destiny lays before them.

Is the story original??  Hell no.  It's Romeo & Juliet with a ship.  But most of today's stories originate at least partly from Shakespeare anyway.  Where 'Titanic' succeeds is in its execution, thanks to the sure eye of James Cameron.  The writing, though sometimes eye-roll-inducing, is largely genuine for kids in love.  The cast is phenomenal all around... Leo & Kate have outstanding chemistry, the supporting cast (especially Kathy Bates) make you care about the other lives on the boat, and the 197 minutes seem to fly by.  The sinking of the ship is as grand and terrifying as you could possibly imagine.  The budget, which at the time was the most expensive movie ever made, goes to good use.  Much of the special effects are done live in-camera, and the result makes for a very visceral experience, one that is as unforgettable as the amount of Oscar noms the flick received.

It's been 15 years since the movie came out and spawned so many pop culture memes, it's hard to believe you would have read this review if you hadn't already seen the flick, so let's get into the IMAX and 3D aspects, shall we?

Firstly, I must admit: I'm a huge fan of IMAX (no pun intended), assuming the film is designed to be viewed on a screen that size.  None of that "same movie on a bigger screen" BS... either actual IMAX footage (see 'The Dark Knight' and 'Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol') or a digital conversion to IMAX (see 'The Hunger Games').  The picture and sound is far superior and offers a much more immersive movie-going experience that I truly believe is worth the extra dough. 

So how does 'Titanic' match up?  Perfectly.  James Cameron personally monitored the conversion to IMAX and 3D, and the result is fantastic.  The IMAX makes the movie look and sound better than ever, and the 3D adds immersion without becoming gimmicky (no, Kate Winslet's nipples don't pop out of the screen at you).  While I would say that the 3D isn't absolutely necessary, I've never been so wrapped up in 'Titanic' before, and I've seen this flick at least 7 times by now.

In closing, 'Titanic' is one helluva movie that will appeal to all ages and genders.  The film is deeply rooted in humanity, love, and survival, which speaks to why it was so successful.  The IMAX 3D adds even more emotion and high stakes to the ride, making this movie a can't-miss in theaters.  Highly recommended.

Acting: 8.5/10

Direction: 10/10

Writing: 7/10 

Movie: 9/10

Medium (IMAX 3D): 10/10

Verdict:  MUST SEE!

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