Copyright © 1997. All Rights Reserved.
Titanic an unsinkable mix of lowbrow storytelling and high tech dazzle.
by Robert Tarry
directed by James Cameron
starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Bill Paxton
opens Friday, December 19
The tale of the Titanic has such built-in dramatic wallop you could film the thing in your bathtub with a Handycam for the price of a VHS tape and it would still be mildly thrilling, for cheap Tuesday anyway.
Now I don't know if you've heard, but James Cameron spent a wee bit more.
By my count, his $200-million magnum opus is the 893rd film made about that fateful night to remember, and if nothing else, until such time as filmmakers can send you back in time and personally drown you, it should be the last.
That's it. No more. After you've built a life size model of the Atlantic Ocean (it wasn't "Atlantic" enough, say the trades), what's left?
But at least the series ends on a high note.
Yes, despite the long-shot odds of making a decent film with this much money, pressure and publicity riding on it, Cameron pulls it off with surprising flair and the occasional flash of high style - most of it delivered courtesy of his three leads: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and the HMS Titanic. And all three hang together very nicely, despite a formula story and a shipload of cardboard characters.
At times, Titanic feels less like a movie and more like a gigantic board game (ages 12 and up):
You're a first class passenger and a first class prick - move back three spaces.
You're a third-class salt-of-the-earth emigrant with a babe in arms and a dream in your heart - move ahead two spaces.
You're Kathy Bates, filthy rich, but you get to say "Y'all" - roll again.
Then, two hours later, along comes an iceberg and it's game over, man!
Billy Zane is particularly overzealous as the smirking Cal Hockley (if he had a mustache, he'd twirl it), and the Irish emigrants might as well spend their screen time chasing green clovers and purple horseshoes as part of this nutritious breakfast.
But scene after scene, line by line, Winslet and DiCaprio keep it afloat with a simple love story, proving once and for all that dazzling computer special effects mean diddly compared to people you care about - the final moment between the two lovers had a packed theatre dead silent and misty-eyed, without a computer-generated iceberg in sight.
Now that's a special effect.
Back To Main Contents
Back To This Issue Table of Contents