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Titanic 3D - Surprisingly not terrible
I've made no secret of my dislike for the 3D conversions I've seen. At best, they aspire to not annoy me. It got to the point where, after watching and reviewing Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace in 3D, I swore that I was done with movies that had been subjected to this pop-up-book treatment unless I knew of some real reason to give it a try.
Boy, that didn't last long.
I'd heard that James Cameron has been similarly critical of these very underwhelming conversions. He helped spark the 3D craze with a little sleeper hit called Avatar that people seemed to like somewhat. But since actually filming your movie in 3D would require that you care about the finished product, most filmmakers simply decided to throw a crappy 3D conversion onto the screen and happily accept our money for a job not-so-well done.
But Cameron has been one of the harshest critics of the way 3D has been used recently. Especially 3D conversions.
Imagine my surprise when Cameron announced a while back that he was working on a 3D conversion of his very successful Titanic.
And considering his past opinion, I just had to see what he thought would justify his revisiting a movie about a decade and a half after it had already taken in enough money to probably buy the Titanic itself and set up a luxury hotel there.
But first, the movie itself
I never saw it in theaters the first time around. I was in Brazil at the time, and while it did show there, I really wasn't able to go to movies while I was there. But Titanic was undoubtedly the biggest movie to come out in my two years stay, so I bought a VHS copy of it in Portuguese.
It's well made as a movie in itself, and very worthy of praise. I don't know if it's worthy of all the praise it got, but it's definitely not under-hyped.
At 3 hours and 14 minutes, it runs a bit long, but as long as you allow yourself to be pulled in with the Jack/Rose story line, as long as you let yourself care about these two kids who believe that three days together constitutes true love, the time is well spent and it doesn't really drag. Especially once the disaster begins.
Because, unlike Pearl Harbor, you actually can care about this love story.
If you're not familiar with the story of the movie by now, you probably don't care at all. But on the off chance that you do need a summary, the movie's called Titanic. I think that's enough story line. Oh, and there's also a pair of hormonal teens that meet, "fall in love", and save each other's lives.
The story is unsurprising, but it's also not the draw of the movie. The real draw of the movie, as you can probably guess, is the fact that it's a PG-13 movie with a good solid nude scene. None of this veiled crap. You get to see just how cold it was on the Titanic.
Actually, the story, while unsurprising, is very compelling. When the disaster happens, we get a wonderful look into the various aspects of humanity.
Everyone responds to the situation differently. We see self sacrifice. We see self centrism. We see heroism and suicide. There's resignation, denial, self delusion, and self pity. Ruthlessness and egotism. Panic and faith.
It's all here. And everybody exists on a sliding scale somewhere amid all the different emotions and concerns that we all have.
Yes, Cameron went to great lengths to make his film historically accurate and the ship technically correct, but more than that, he populates the movie with real people who have real reactions.
But what about the 3D?
I have to say that this is, without a doubt, the best 3D conversion I've ever seen. I know that's like saying it's the softest rock in the quarry or the tastiest turd on the sidewalk. But this seriously isn't a bad conversion. There's more field of depth here than in the crap job that Phantom Menace got. The 3D here rarely draws attention to itself but when it does, it's impressive and well done.
In the first minutes of the story, when the exploration team is searching the wreck, there are atmospheric effects and particles floating in the water and it's all very cool.
Blurred edges are handled very well.
Reflections in panes of glass.
Smoke, fog and steam.
All these things that are transparent to various degrees have always caused big problems for 3D conversion. But here, it's absolutely impressive the result that they've achieved.
You know what I think makes the biggest difference?
Caring about the product more than "creative vision".
Cameron, unlike so many of these other filmmakers actually cares enough about his movie to put the time and effort into getting it right, not "good enough" which usually means "kinda crappy." I don't know what measuring stick they use to call that "good enough."
According to Cameron, it took 14 months and 300 computer artists to make the conversion. That's more time and man-power than a large percentage of movies out there. And still, other people just take a movie, throw it in a 3D chipper, and expect it to be just as good when it comes out the other end.
Now, that being said, the movie would definitely be a better experience had it been shot in 3D to begin with. Even with this excellent conversion, I was able to find a few shots that didn't hold up completely, but only because the exact reason I went to see this one is to see just how well the conversion had been done. For people who want to watch it for the movie itself ... I'm sure you can get your hands on a DVD copy quite easily. But if you want the 3D experience, I really can't say it's a bad show.
Most of the movie can't really benefit from the addition of 3D, but that's fine. The 3D doesn't add much to the tender, romantic moments between Rose and her loving fiancee.
Mostly because they don't exist.
However the romance with Jack also doesn't really benefit from the 3D either. Though, nor does it suffer from the addition.
But then there are those sweeping shots of the ship to show the scale or grandeur, and you do get a nice sense of just how big the ship is.
And there's definitely some great stuff to see once the ship actually starts to sink.
Overall, the movie doesn't need the 3D, but it doesn't get in the way and some scenes do get a bit of an "oomph" factor.
Big kudos to you, Mr. Cameron.
I recognize that the movie is well done and moving, but it's not exactly my kind of movie so personally I give it a 7 / 10.
Titanic is rated PG-13 for disaster related peril, violence, language, sensuality, and nudity that I seriously think should have gotten it a harsher rating.