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Titanic

A 1997 movie directed by James Cameron.

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Spoiler: The Boat Sinks

  • Jul 8, 2007
Rating:
+1
Pros: Great disaster scene and details

Cons: Lousy script

The Bottom Line: Splash!

The American Film Institue released its second top 100 list last week, and I was surprised to see that Titanic had a place on it. Few movies have been turned against as quickly as Titanic was. It seemed like people were slamming it the immediate second after director James Cameron walked off the stage clutching his best picture Oscar, as if the Academy would retract it before he hit the bottom step off. I myself am ashamed to admit that I've played the two-face game too: When I first saw it back in 1997, I said it was one of the greats. I own it on video, even. But time goes on, things change, and Baron goes to college where he takes a film course or three. I still like Titanic a lot, but I also think it has more flaws than I previously remember. These days, I would have given the 1997 best picture to LA Confidential.

Titanic is a great disaster movie spoiled. Maybe even the best disaster movie ever made, but spoiled. The movie swtches its gears the second the ship runs aground against the iceberg. It starts out as a lighthearted romantic fairy tale and just seems to get darker.

The plot, for those who have been living on an iceberg floating around the middle of the Atlantic ocean for the last ten years, is this: A rich family boards the Titanic. The daughter, Rose, is engaged to some high-society prick who would probably be in bed with one of the bridesmaids immediately after the wedding ends. Poor Rose is bored out of her skull and annoyed with the idea that she's not really living her life the way she wants to; her mother is incredibly shallow and expects her to get in line, keep her mouth shut, and enjoy her fiance's finances. On the Titanic, she meets Jack, a free spirit who won a ticket to America in a poker game literally minutes before the ship was to leave dock. Jack and Rose fall in love in the space of two days, dodge the fiance, and then the ship sinks and Jack freezes to death while Rose lives well into her 90's to tell the tale to a crew that's trying to salvage her ridiculously oversized diamond.

Being as predictable as the story is, you would also be right to guess that the dialogue is very poor. Jack entices Rose by inviting her to a "real party," and later tells her how amazing she is in the most blunt terms possible. Poor Leonardo DiCaprio has little to work with.

As you can imagine, this is very predictable. Jack and Rose are just the 1,912th snob-falls-for-spirit story ever brought to film. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet don't play out their characters that well. Winslet plays Rose very meekly for most of the movie, and DiCaprio - well, this was made while DiCaprio was still in his Lardo DiCraprio stage. He speaks with a familiar monotone and just plays every scene with more or less the same amount of enthusiasm. He seems very out of place when Rose's family invites him to dinner after he talks her out of jumping overboard, and not because his character is poor while everyone around him is rich. Besides the love story, Cameron uses shots of people about to die when the ship starts filling with water. I've always believed this to be a very cheap directorial technique used by directors who were out of their normal comfort zones. Trying to film an emotional story, Cameron is no exception. Even the love scenes in The Terminator were played down in favor of the action.

Really, the star of Titanic is the ship itself. I don't blame Cameron for using such a crappy story for this movie, actually. Cameron just wanted to make a movie about the ship itself, and he needed a device to jump around from one area of the ship to another without disrupting the flow of whatever potential story he thought up. The love story, despite its repitition, performs the function very nicely. Through Jack and Rose alone we visit steerage, the luggage department, the banquet hall, and every kind of compartment class. It almost makes you wonder why Cameron just didn't make a documentary, but documentaries don't make you care about their subjects like this movie does.

When the iceberg hits, we are treated to one of the most spectacular disaster sequences ever filmed. While the story of Jack and Rose takes up most of the movie's time, Cameron still takes his sweet time letting the boat sink. The panic and worry on board is very realistic and you have a better idea of just what the situation might have really been like. people run screaming while the crewmates futily try to keep everyone in some kind of semi-order. Few details are spared: It really is a sight to watch the furniture fall prey to gravity and the people cling to whatever they can for their very lives. The band is shown gamely playing music in a fruitless attempt to keep the crowd calm, Molly Brown is seen trying to talk the other passengers of her lifeboat into going back for their husbands, and the captain is shown at the bridge going down with his ship. Unfortunately, there are also countless other people shown for no apparent reason. Realistic, yes, but also gratuitous. This is what James Cameron was always best at - showing disasters with great detail. Details in Titanic are what really make it memorable.

So to summarize: The love story is just there to show you everything James Cameron knows about his subject; in one scene, Rose even makes a comment about the number of lifeboats on board and is told there might only be enough for half the passengers. This is important because it shows the arrogance of the people who built the supposedly waterproof ship. But, lousy love story, great details, great disaster scene. Should you see Titanic? I'll let you decide for yourself.

Recommended:
Yes

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More Titanic (movie) reviews
review by . May 02, 2011
I have great respect for James Cameron, I really do. It seems that everything the man touches turns to money regardless of its quality. I also have great respect for Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, for giving great performances in this movie and having careers to this day that aren't solely based off Titanic. I was planning to watch this movie and write a review of how overrated it is. However, I have finished watching it and I can safely say that I don't have the heart to do so and …
review by . May 02, 2011
      Votes +23 +24 / -1     Titanic (1997) Genre: Drama Posted on 4/15/11 06:10 PM I have great respect for James Cameron, I really do. It seems that everything the man touches turns to money regardless of its quality. I also have great respect for Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, for giving great performances in this movie and having careers to this day that aren't solely based off Titanic. I was planning to watch this movie and …
Quick Tip by . September 29, 2011
I really enjoyed this film when it first came out. However, it hasn't aged well with me and I just can't commit myself to the time to watch it anymore.
review by . July 05, 2009
Almost everyone is aware of the movie Titanic.  It is the world's highest grossing film, and it doesn't look like anything will out-gross it any time.  Despite a huge box office gross, however, it's easy to say that there probably a million movies that are a whole lot better.  In 1997-1998 while it was reigning at the box office (staying at number 1 for fifteen straight weeks) it seemed like an unstoppable phenomenon.  People were seeing it more than once... a lot more than once.  …
Quick Tip by . January 17, 2011
One of the best movies ever, I cry every time I watch it.
review by . March 05, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A film that defined a genration and still has the power to speak to audiences of today...
The sinking of the Titanic was one of the greatest tragedies  in  history more than a 1,517 lives were lost to the frozen  waters it was a  tragedy that shook the  world  in  1912  and left a lasting impression on all those  who   heard of the loss of that day. Many films have been made in 1943 Werner Klinger used the events as Nazi propaganda to discredit British and American capitalist dealings and glorify the bravery and selflessness of Germanic …
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
Aside from it's legacy at the box office, Titanic has little that makes it that memorable. It doesn't have a lot that makes it stand out. It's got great film technique and a huge emotional impact, but there are dozens more movies that have the same impact... it's just a movie that had a fantastic run at the box office and a smart director behind the camera.
review by . July 15, 2010
I loved it..But Im really sad.
omg i loved this movie its the best movie ever..But its really sad the way everyone dies and i hate the way they show everything it breaks my heart ecuae thinking of kids and babies omg its soo sad to even think of such a traggic incident happening to you..I am really sad to see this movie..i was soo sad at the end of the movie..I felt so bad for the people who had to suffer the frozen water..i really liked the way Kate winslets toe dancing steps they were awesome..Both of there chemistry rocked...It …
review by . July 01, 2010
This move is moving. It was historical. It was kinda slow. There are just so many things that I don't understand about this movie. Much of it has to do with character motivation. Also one of my biggest problems with it, is that Dicaprio should not have died! I felt like he didn't want it bad enough. In these type of tragic movies I try to put myself into the shoes of the characters and try to think about what I'd do. And maybe it's just me, but I would've survived the tragedy. …
Quick Tip by . June 08, 2010
One of the best movies of all time. I cry every time I watch it.
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Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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Titanic
is a romantic drama film released on December 19, 1997 and produced by Paramount Pictures.  The film was directed and written by James Cameron.  Titanic was produced by Jon Landau along with James Cameron, and starred Leonardo DiCaprio,Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Frances Fisher, Victor Garber, Kathy Bates, GloriaStuart, Bill Paxton and Danny Nucci

Titanic is a fictional story of a rich woman and a poor man on the Titanic who meet on the unsinkable ship  perfect optimizer.  Featuring spectacular special effects set amidst the backdrop of one ofthe most tragic events of the 20th Century, James Cameron'saward-winning TITANIC stands as one of the greatest Hollywoodspectaculars of all time. Beginning with an undersea expedition in the1990s, in which scuba divers are searching the sunken ship for lostrelics, a painting of young Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) isfound. This triggers a flashback to the young woman's story as ithappened on the doomed Titanic. Rose is a daughter of privilege on herway to be married to an arrogant but wealthy young man (Billy Zane).Despairing, Rose finds herself falling in love with Jack Dawson(Leonardo DiCaprio), a carefree and poor young artist who is alsoaboard. When the great ship strikes an iceberg and begins to sink, Roseand Jack have only each other as their world falls apart around them.

After its releasethe film received 48 nominations, andcelebrated 76 various wins and 11 Academy Awardsin 1998 for ...

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