This 3D refit of James Cameron's unsinkable drama is the perfect excuse for some late '90s nostalgia.
James Cameron's unsinkable Titanic is back, this time gracing our multiplexes in glistening 3D. If you’re hungry for a re-dose of pure '90s kitsch, the 3D glasses are welcome blinkers, hiding each guilty viewer from the rest of the audience as those of a certain age happily indulge in the nostalgia of teenage fantasy.
Like all teen romances, the love story that made such an impact on pop-culture back in 1997 hasn’t aged well. In fact, the whole production reminds of a time when Hollywood seemed to have reached some kind of dizzying, saccharine end-game.
In retrospect, it’s easy to look back and laugh. Yet, a collective-cringe will no doubt surface during the infamous, "I’m flying, Jack!" scene, even though it is tinged with youthful, naive pleasure. The two leads are still surprisingly strong, with Winslet as Rose, a stubborn mare turned hopeless romantic now even more haughtily buxom in her 3D corsetry, and youthful and charismatic Leo, a far cry from his perma-frown acting of recent years.
The most famous scenes, now poking out from the screen, seem like auto-pastiche: The remarkably vanilla sex scene, reproduced on every steamed up window; the time code logged on any young girl's VCR copy; the "I’ll never let go, Jack", as poor Jack drifts into Atlantic oblivion and everyone pretended they didn’t cry. These moments, no matter how laughable they seem now, are seared onto the collective cultural memory, and to revisit them is a delight that slowly turns to sugary nausea.
Back in 1997, Titanic was lauded for its special effects. At the time of its release, Variety magazine celebrated it as "a spectacular demonstration of what modern technology can contribute to dramatic storytelling". But the effects have also aged. The 3D iceberg is even more obviously painted polystyrene and the eagle-eye panning shots of the ship's decks – tinged by a spectacularly fake sunset – resemble the jerky movement and digital veneer of early video games.
The underwater scenes of the wreckage work best in this new 3D refit, if only because the particles in the water – plankton, bits of ship and seaweed – work to 3D’s strengths by wooshing out at the audience.
So, suspend all critical faculties and think of the late '90s. Whether you laughed or cried (and admitted it), this 3D gimmick is, if nothing else, a good excuse to return to a sillier, younger self.
We’re all a bit too old and wise for this silly sleepover, again.
Mouthing along to the dialogue and cringing at the best (worst) bits.
If you fancy indulging in pure, unadulterated silliness and spending a night in the '90s, this is a good bet. Otherwise…