Saturday, August 23, 2014

Titanic (1997)

IMDb plot summary: A seventeen-year-old aristocrat, expecting to be married to a rich claimant by her mother, falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.
Directed by James Cameron. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, and Frances Fisher.

(Spoilers ahead about who dies, though I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who hadn't watched this movie yet.)

Yes, this is actually the first time I've ever seen this movie. And I think it deserves about half the hype it gets.

There is no denying that this movie looks incredible. Especially in the second half of the movie when chaos ensues, the effects and the visuals are incredibly powerful. This is one that I *do* think would be even more impressive in the theater. It was impressive to me just on my little laptop screen. Watching the ship slowly sink is fascinating for a full hour and a half. Scenes like the lifeboats slowly weaving their way through hundreds of dead bodies can't help but stick with you. For that alone, this movie was worth watching.

That being said, though... I was really not drawn into the story of Rose and Jack. It's a VERY traditional story and it doesn't really do anything to make it stand out for the first hour and a half. The central characters themselves aren't terribly well-crafted, which is unfortunate, because ALL the side characters are more interesting. It makes me really wish the scriptwriters had gone for more of an ensemble film style, forgetting the flashback aspect and just focusing on a bunch of different characters and their stories. I could have gotten behind 20-25 minutes of Jack/Rose subplot, but I was not nearly interested enough in them to spend a full 3 hours being sad about their tragic fate.

I did think the scene with Jack's death was handled well. Given the melodramatic nature of the rest of the movie, I expected there to be a much more overblown death scene, but... there wasn't. She just wakes up and realizes he's gone, says goodbye, and lets him go. It was subtle, dignified, and didn't make me roll my eyes -- which was good, I wanted to care about that moment. The overhead visual of his body sinking out of sight into the ocean was also a beautiful choice -- really emphasized the "he's gone forever" permanence in a heartbreaking way. That was the one moment in which I cared about them the most.

This is a heartbreaking movie when it comes to painting the enormous scope of the tragedy. It does a great job of making you really FEEL how many people lost their lives there. It's not so impressive when it comes to the personal love story. About halfway through, I complained to Jacob, "I'm just waiting impatiently for the boat to sink so SOMETHING interesting will happen."

3.5 stars.

Flickchart: #908 out of 2211, below Holiday Inn and above The Other Boleyn Girl.

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