DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Titanic, 4-Disc Combo, Blu-ray 3D (1997/2012)

An incredible success of 2D-to-3D processing and an incredible film anyway.

Published on November 12, 2012

Titanic, 4-Disc Combo, Blu-ray 3D (1997/2012)

Director: James Cameron
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Bill Paxton, Billy Zane
Studio: Paramount 14682 [9/10/12] 2-3D Blue-rays+2D Blue-ray+Special features/Digital Copy
Video: anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 1080p HD 3D color
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, DD 2.0
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Three commentary tracks: James Cameron, cast, crew; Two all-new documentaries: “Reflections on Titanic,” “Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron;” 30 deleted scenes, 60 behind-the-scenes featurettes, Digital copy of the film, THX 3D (post-production)
Length: 194 minutes (+ over six hours of extras)
Rating: *****

Since I didn’t see it the first time around, I can’t say—as several critics did—that the post-production 3D makes this great film even greater. But I do agree it is a much greater film than I first thought and the 3D most of the time is just as effective as on films such as Avatar that were originally shot in 3D. Cameron was correct in saying that a lot of time and money had to be spent on 3D conversion in order to look good, and he did that. The railings of the ship and staircases inside, the depth of the many people in crowd scenes, the immensity of the pistons in the engine room—they all are most impressive. There are some scenes, however, where little 3D effect is noted, and one scene—where the crowds are embarking at the beginning—where there is a very obvious totally flat painted background of buildings that probably looked OK in 2D, but in 3D, boy do they look flat and unrealistic!  The all-stops-out lossless surround supports the images perfectly, especially in the groans and crunches as the great ship begins to break up.

I guess it’s rather late to comment specifically on why this is such an incredible movie. All the actors are perfect in their roles. Kathy Bates is a delight as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” and Victor Garber as the ship’s original architect is most touching as it falls apart around him and he tells Rose “I’m sorry I didn’t build you a better ship.”

Of course Winslet as Rose, the 17-year-old upper-class girl and DiCaprio as the 20-year-old survivor Jack who just gets by, often drawing and painting in various places in order to make it, are the leads in the film and fully deserve the acclaim they have garnered. Cameron’s framing of the story with the modern-day undersea robot exploration of the historic wreck and the story of the old lady who is actually the survivor Rose today raised the film from the ordinary.

The human cost of the tragedy is not passed over in emphasis on the technical side: The way the steerage passengers were blocked and prevented from accessing the few lifeboats until they were all gone, the unwillingness of some of the lifeboats with space remaining to go back and rescue some of those in the water. Two elements of the 1912 sinking were new to me: 1) That the captain was forced to speed up the Titanic by firing up all the boilers, in order to please a PR man who wanted to get publicity by arriving in New York a day early, and 2) That the crow’s nest and other observation points were supposed to have binoculars with which they might have been able to see the iceberg soon enough to steer around it, but they were either misplaced or forgotten. The over three hours length goes by rapidly, and I think this is the first Blu-ray I’ve received that required two discs to accommodate it. This version should give post-production 3D a major boost.

—John Sunier




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