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11-29-2005, 11:46 AM
There is absolutely no way I am going to go over the plot of this film because to do so would be more than redundant at this point; for those of you who never saw this blockbuster, I'm not saying that it deserved the attention or recognition it got -- because behind all the hoopla surrounding this project, the bottom line was a ridiculous, sappy love story along the lines of Pearl Harbor set amidst the backdrop of a true disaster that simply couldn't stand on its own two feet if these two factors hadn't met -- but if you have never seen it, you need to at least once in life to "see" what the hoopla was all about.

In a nutshell, this is a tearjerker for women centering on hammy, off-axis performances that simply, to me, wouldn't have taken place in the time frame James Cameron is talking about here -- especially the performances from Leo DiCaprio's character. Add to that the fact that we get the Kate Winslet character as an elderly woman who simply looks or acts nothing like the younger "Rose" character would later in her life; the whole thing defied and went beyond suspension of disbelief. Do I really need to go over this? Winslet plays a disgruntled bride-to-be of a prick of an Englishman (Billy Zane) headed back to America on the Titanic where she meets a younger (in character) DiCaprio who has "won" tickets onto Titanic at a lucky hand of cards. The remainder of the film falls into a ridiculously long, overdone falling-in-love story set amidst the backdrop of one of the most sinister maritime disasters in history. The setpieces of Titanic hitting the iceberg and the sinking sequences were what made the film to me -- much like the Japanese attack sequences in Pearl Harbor -- not the cheesy, sappy dialogue exchanges between "Rose" and "Jack" (nor the whole "love triangle" thing between Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale and Josh Harnett in Pearl Harbor).

For some reason -- and I will continue holding to this belief as a cinema aficionado -- the public of "today" simply refuses to sit still during anything that slows down for a moment to explain a bit of real history of this country, or of the world, or, goes the other way and can't sit still during serious dialogue interludes. Because the demographic piling into theaters is getting younger and younger, and those with a serious passion for film -- not lightning-fast editing techniques that have you reaching for a bottle of Extra Strength Tylenol after every viewing -- are confining their passions to home theater, the filmmakers have recently flooded the market with senseless remakes and utter trash in my opinion; with historically-based plots as in Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor and James Cameron's Titanic, there is one de facto standard these directors were going by because they unfortunately knew the truth about today's theater-going public: these people simply would not sit in a theater long enough to watch a plot develop strictly related to exploring these two historical disasters (and these two films are just examples of more that are out there) and they actually needed crotchety ridiculously sappy love stories attached to them to win people over and sell tickets. The concept of trying to keep the real stories of these disasters simple and to the point was tried before -- Tora! Tora! Tora! is a good example -- but these projects simply wouldn't last in today's get-everything-in-a-minute world of cell phones, iPods and MTV-generation meatheads. I doubt the average high school graduate of today would even know what war the Pearl Harbor attack took place during or what the whole scandal was even about. That's how sad the situation is.

And so James Cameron's Titanic had become a worldwide hit, being called "The Biggest Film of All Time" or something along those lines, yet to me, it's still something you revisit maybe once a year because of its unnecessary length and horrendous acting by the leads; I must admit, I did, for years, own the two-tape VHS copy of the title and waited until Paramount and 20th Century Fox would do the right thing and give this undoubtedly "legendary" title the treatment it deserved on DVD because the first release was simply laughable. In fact, I don’t even know how the first release of this title on DVD ever got past Paramount's quality control department because it was basically a ported-over transfer to DVD-R with cheap packaging surrounding it to get it slammed to shelves as fast as possible for the first wave of DVD buying idiots to say they got a copy.....that wasn’t going to be me. So, being a critic of the film bordering on a "surface fan," I waited and waited and waited, receiving all the press releases from Paramount claiming their "ultra-edition" of this popular film was on its way -- I was curious, if nothing more, to see how they would have cleaned up this THX-supervised transfer and what kinds of massive behind-the-scenes extras there would be because if ever there were a film that needed that kind of background, this was it. It still amazes me that Paramount actually put out a single disc release of this monumentally made film prior to this new three-disc set recently launched.

Well, the time had come; November 2005 -- and while I wasn't one of those folks who HAD to have this on release day, it was in fact my better half who went in on half the purchase with me for this title because she, like so many other females, is a sucker for it. Bringing it home, we endured the lengthy opus in all its digital glory, even needing to get up and change discs because the film is so long (as on Buena Vista's Pearl Harbor) and I have to say.....applause to Paramount and Fox for giving this title the treatment it deserved -- if only from a technical and marketing standpoint. The set is housed in a beautiful blue box with an inner box that folds out to reveal the three discs inside on trays; the first two discs house the film while the third houses the remainder of the special features, which were aplenty. The only thing that really eats me -- and fans of the film as well -- was the artwork on the cover, which depicts Cameron actually directing DiCaprio and Winslet during one of the scenes in the bottom left corner; was this necessary? I know that sounds like a rhetorical question of sorts, but come on, Paramount....this was ridiculous and ruined an otherwise stunning presentation for this title.


With letterboxing present on my display but no mention of an aspect ratio, Fox and Paramount has brought Titanic to stunning, colorful, smooth, widescreen life -- so much better than the VHS incarnations I had to sit through, of course, and noticeably better than the first DVD transfer. There doesn't seem to be any hint of any problem here -- the image remains smooth and almost glossy it's so clean at times; a real nice job here in the video department. Actually, to me, the way DVD SHOULD look -- a marked contrast to the last disc I reviewed, DreamWorks' War of the Worlds, which was littered with (what is still being argued) what seems to be an intentional grain and grit.


The inclusion of a DTS ES track was a nice touch here by Paramount/Fox, and really opened the soundscape up -- no doubt. There was only one problem I could detect: there is an issue with dialogue here, which seems to be noticeably mixed lower than the remainder of the effects tracks. Everything else on the mix sounded great from my recollection -- the engines of Titanic were accompanied by wallops of nice, deep LFE and surrounds highlighted scenes in a subtle but gently encompassing fashion -- there was not aggressive use of the surround work even in DTS ES flavor -- you can immediately tell that this soundtrack was worked on, cleaned up and made punchier for this release which was a nice, refreshing change from a lot of studios that promise this on their packaging yet deliver soundtracks that fall flat. The only problem, as I stated, was this low dialogue delivery which I believe was discussed in other reviews of the title, so perhaps this was in fact the way it was recorded.

"Fans" of the film were no doubt waiting for the plethora of extras to adorn this set, and they were treated to:

Director James Cameron gives you his unique insight into the making of this epic masterpiece

Kate Winslet, Gloria Stuart and Lewis Abernathy talk about sailing into film history aboard Titanic

An exquisite commentary that puts you back in 1912, the year the ill-fated ship sailed

Producer Jon Landau and Executive Producer Rae Sanchini shed some serious light on what it takes to re-create history

Experience the film in Behind-the-Scenes Mode with over an hour of riveting branching footage!

For the first time, over 45 minutes of deleted scenes are available for your viewing pleasure!

The never-before-seen ending that almost was: "Brock's Epiphany." (NOTE: Watched this alternate ending and...well...it sucked worse than the original ending did; glad Cameron decided to axe it)

The magnificent Celine Dion's music video for the smash hit song "My Heart Will Go On"

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11-29-2005, 11:55 AM
It sinks? The Titanic sinks?! Oh no! I haven't seen this yet. Now I know the ending.

hahaha nice review Lex.

11-29-2005, 12:00 PM
It sinks? The Titanic sinks?! Oh no! I haven't seen this yet. Now I know the ending.

hahaha nice review Lex.

Yes.....unfortunately G the Titanic sinks....

****.....did I give that AWAY???

LOL....thanks for reading man!