Re-released to mark the 100 year anniversary of one of history’s most famous tragedies (or for you more cynical readers; a chance for James Cameron to milk some more cash from his obsession with stereoscopic filmmaking) Titanic 3D sees one of Hollywood’s most successful blockbusters sail its way back onto the big screen.
Despite now being 15 years old, there isn’t a cinema patron unfamiliar with Cameron’s tale of Rose (Winslet) and Jack’s (Di Caprio) doomed romance. Loved and hated in equal measure by young and old there’s no denying that Titanic for all its manipulative schmaltz and dire dialogue remains one of cinema’s most grandiose achievements. However, whilst it’s clearly understandable that the opportunity to re-release one of Hollywood’s highest ever grossing films during the centenary year of its historic subject, the decision to retrofit it into 3D is both utterly pointless and morally repugnant – especially when considering the hundreds of innocent souls who perished on that fateful night.
The film’s brief exposition, following a group of treasure hunters searching for a lost diamond (the ‘Heart of the Ocean’) is quintessentially nineties, gently reminding the audience of the hideously stunted dialogue of numerous other blockbusters of the period. However, once we find ourselves thrust into the past and placed on board the Titanic it’s clear to see how the film wooed so many. The sheer scale of the production still remains impressive and stepping back onto the decks of this ill fated ocean liner is an experience best enjoyed on the big screen.
The film is still littered with the same problems it always was and whilst Di Caprio isn’t as tedious to watch as he was back when he adorned the walls of every high school teenage girl the script remains riddled with problems. The contrived story of love against the constraints of economic class theme is dealt with in such a heavy handed manner that it dilutes the emotional resonance of Jack and Roses’ onscreen relationship – indeed the film’s first half remains an endurance test for anyone who appreciates nuanced character development and a natural evolving storyline.
However, the third act, where the film’s ill-fated, titular ship collides with its icy nemesis, remains an enthralling experience. This real time depiction of Titanic’s final hour helps mask the film’s daunting runtime, exploding as it does into a tense, nerve shattering finale. Once Cameron’s epic period romp transforms into the type of destructive blockbuster that were two a penny in the nineties the film truly begins to flex it visual muscles.
Throughout Titanic 3D it feels like the retrofitted 3D is being saved for this dramatic finale. Indeed with the exception of the clunky glasses indenting themselves on the rim of your nose for the majority of the film’s runtime you’d be forgiven for forgetting the film was in 3D at all. However, during the third act’s chaos and panic it becomes even more jarring, with numerous action sequences appearing much the same as they did 15 years ago, albeit with a little more added depth to them. Perhaps intended to smooth over some of the film’s dated CGI effects the results are ironically detrimental, instead only highlighting the film’s use of early green screen technology. Cameron’s extravagant romance still remains an impressive feat of filmmaking but is in no way improved by this extra dimension with Titanic 3D only enhancing the belief that retrofitting 2D films into 3D doesn’t work, with the results generally lacking the visual awe and spectacle promised by the format.
It remains a mystery that out of all the cherished films of history Titanic was chosen to be retrofitted when more suitable films remain untouched. Love it or hate it, Titanic remains an impressive piece of mainstream entertainment, finding the right balance between visual spectacle and chocolate box romance, but as an experiment in 3D technology this classic love story falls flat.
Titanic 3D docks in cinemas 6th April 2012.
Director: James Cameron
Writer: James Cameron
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane
Runtime: 194 min