Overview: James Cameron’s follows the fictional courtship of young Jack and Rose as they illustrate all of the romantic clichés (the straight-laced social climber vs. the free spirit, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, the star-crossed teens) during their short lived journey upon the fateful 1912 North Atlantic liner ship . 20th Century Fox & Paramount; 1997; PG-13; 194 Minutes.
The Good: Alright, I’ll put it in print. This movie is pretty impressive start to finish. Cameron has always been at the forefront of movie special effects, and this disaster picture is no exception. What is exceptional about his work with Titanic is the unexpectedly engaging narrative and character development that comprise the first two acts. With a runtime of just over three hours, that means Cameron has sort-of made an entire movie absent of heavy special effects (suck on that Avatar detractors). It’s fun to watch an untested, barely-legal heart throb Dicaprio in his first major blockbuster role. Perhaps what has been most forgotten in the legacy are the impressive turns from the supporting cast—Kathy Bates, Billy Zane, Bernard Hill, and that heartbreaking house band playing through until the very end.
The Bad: Somewhere in the middle, the rising action stagnates. The courtship becomes redundant and we start peeking toward the corners of the screen in hopes of seeing the iceberg. However, Winslet’s portrait-posing and steamy window slap arrive at the perfect time to revitalize the audience with electric energy (like a Celine Dion mid-song chest punch) just as the movie turns toward its magnificently presented catastrophic final act. Viewers today might be surprised at how well the visuals of the sinking ship have held up.
You’ve Probably Already Seen It But: Bring just as many tissues on the second and third and fourth viewing. I went to watch the film when it was recently released in 3-D for its 15th anniversary, and the sniffles were constant for the entire final hour, erupting in the darkness of the theater (like string music) as the boat slipped into the water.
Grade: B +