Titanic (1997)

reviewed by
Choo Eng Aun, Jack

TITANIC (1997)
Reviewed by Jack Choo
Directed by James Cameron
Starring :        Kate Winslet                (Rose Calvert)
                Leornado DiCaprio         (Jack Dawson)
                Billy Zane                
Running Time :         3hrs 15mins (!)
Rating        :        ****1/2 out of *****

TITANIC carries with it the hype of being the most expensive film ever made. With a whopping US$200 million price tag on it, the hype surrounding the movie was immense. Like WATERWORLD, people would like to see it; mostly to see how bad it would sink. It proved otherwise. Rather than sinking with its immense budget and hype or merely floating along with most mediocre Hollywood films, it jumped straight out of the water and flew beyond expectations. People who watch this movie with or without a pre-set thinking will be pleasantly surprised with what TITANIC has to offer, in terms of a well-balanced movie.

I could not begin to agree that it was money well spent. After all, US$200 million is a LOT of money for a movie. Too much in all aspects of movie-making. James Cameron commissioned ILM (Industrial Light and Magic), which did all those superb effects in THE LOST WORLD, STARSHIP TROOPERS and MEN IN BLACK to re-create the ship in computer graphics and mixing them seamlessly with live-action footage. The set designs were very good, and so much money was spent that there are rumours going about that they auctioned the sets off after the movie was shot to cut back this over-budgeted movie. Even the carpets used in the film was made by the original manufacturer for those in the real Titanic way back in the early 1900s.

TITANIC revolves around the love-story between two characters; Jack Dawson (DiCaprio) and Rose Calvert (Winslet). Jack, a care-free drifter who seizes life by the day, wins a 3rd class ticket for the maiden voyage of the ship over a hand of poker. Rose, on the other hand, hates everything about her life although she is to wed a rich aristocrat (Billy Zane). Rose's feeling of being contained is only reinforced with all the pressures put upon her by her mother, so as to save their family name and status. Her unorthodox meeting with Jack presented her with the opportunity to run away from her emotional predicament and to allow herself to discover what she really needs out of life.

This film does not possess the complexity in terms of style and story-telling like say, L.A.CONFIDENTIAL but ironically so, this is also one of its greatest merits which actually makes this film highly watchable. The idealistic love-story between Jack and Rose crosses into the `fantasy' region almost all the time throughout the film and the dialogue exchanged during such moments are not quite easy to swallow as real-life situations. It is the innocence and pureness in their relationship which actually make tragedy more enthralling and extreme. With all the special-effects and great action surrounding the film, audiences will definitely feel that TITANIC is close to the ultimate tragedy love-story. This sets TITANIC much higher than other `disaster' films due to this central focus on their relationship.

Director James Cameron has come a LONG way since his first movie, a well-forgotten low budget flick called PIRANHA 2 : THE SPAWNING. Since then, he has moved on to direct box-office hits like THE TERMINATOR, TERMINATOR 2, ALIENS and TRUE LIES, making him one of the most bankable action movie directors of all time. We can still see him flexing those well-respected skills in action sequences in TITANIC. What really impressed was this action-based director was actually using his skills to support a love-story rather than to allow action to be the central-focus of the film and best of all, how he managed to pull it off successfully. Watch out for this film in the upcoming Academy Awards. James Cameron may be on of the top contenders for best director.

Despite its long running time (over 3hrs!), audiences will not feel that it was draggy or slow. The last film which I felt the same for the running time was for BRAVEHEART. The film was never a moment uninteresting nor slow; there is always something to keep audiences `occupied'. Highly Recommended.

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