Titanic

Fri, Apr 6, 2012, 01:00

Directed by James Cameron. Starring Leonardo Di Caprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Bill Paxton, David Warner, Frances Fisher, Bernard Hill, Gloria Stuart 12A cert, general release, 194 min

NEVER MIND the 3D makeover. Time has not been kind to James Cameron’s big-hulled monstrosity. The original CGI, all $200 million’s worth, would barely cut it as an annoying animated screen saver by today’s standards. The ship itself looks about as sophisticated as a biro jotting. The crowds wave algorithmically. The sea is pixel blue.

Cameron, ever the gadget boy, has certainly tinkered with the original print. Remove your glasses during any scene and at least one object in the foreground will appear as a blur. But that’s your lot. Like George Lucas and the recent Phantom Menace reissue, the director has unwisely plumped for, sigh, the “immersive” experience. There’s nothing here to compete with Avatar’s more visceral swoops or Hugo’s many dimensions. There’s just a huge drop in brightness for very small reward.

The now tatty lines around the titular vessel make for a disastrous disaster flick. Victims fall from the ill-fated vessel as binary coded constructions. Oh, look. That special effect just died. Pass on our condolences to the hardware that spawned it.

Yank out the spectacle and there’s not much to recommend Titanic 3D. The film’s standing in the all-time box-office chart was always a quirk of zeitgeist, a strange perfect storm of Leo lovers and elderly hat admirers.

The screenplay retains the appallingly utilitarian ring that these folks were once prepared to overlook. Characters introduce themselves in flat-pack sound bites: “When you got nothing you got nothing to lose,” announces Di Caprio’s Jack. “I don’t see what all the fuss is about. It doesn’t look any bigger than the Mauretania,” sniffs Winslet’s perennially dissatisfied Rose.

It’s an apt if trite opening gambit. Rose, even played by Model T Winslet (the version we used to like), is one of the movieverse’s most problematic heroines. A spoiled, sneaky brat who somehow contrives to bag the bit of rough andthe rich fiancé’s diamond, she swans off without ever having to witness either gent scratching himself with keys on her couch.

Let’s not think too much about Gloria Stewart’s embarrassing randy granny (“Do you mean did we do it?”), the strangulated accents, the outbreaks of stage Oirishness and the purgatorial running time. Forget Céline Dion’s infernal heart. This movie just goes on and on.