Saturday, March 8, 2014

Best Picture: "Titanic," 1997

Movie Stats:
Released 1997 (Japan)
American, in English (occasional bits of other languages, mostly translated)
Director – James Cameron
Stars – Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, and many others you’ll recognize

Plot Summary:
It’s the story of star-crossed lovers Jack Dawson (DiCaprio) and Rose DeWitt Bukater (Winslet) set against the backdrop of the Titanic disaster.

Blue language; female nudity (breasts only but there are also multiple drawings of nude women, including full frontal, if that might bother you); disaster-related violence; strongly implied sexy times.

Bad Stuff:
My biggest problem is the dialogue. People don’t talk like people from the 1910s; they talk like people from the 1990s. It’s very distracting. A lot of it is really cheesy too. Also, some of the exposition is awkward. I was rolling my eyes during the scene where Rose is talking to the ship builder about how she noticed there weren’t enough lifeboats for everyone on the ship. I know she’s portrayed as smart in the film, but there’s no way her self-absorbed character would have noticed something like that. That scene was there solely to inform the portion of the audience that didn’t pay attention in history class that the ship didn’t have enough lifeboats. That's bad writing.

I’ve complained about this a lot in the 90s, but the characters are too one-note. Poor people are noble! They’re happy because they accept what life has given them! Rich people are mean! They’re unhappy because nothing is ever good enough for them! Also, Jack is a total Mary Sue. It’s tiresome.

It has way too much of the 90s cheesiness/sappiness/sentimentality.

Good Stuff:
DiCaprio and Winslet have great chemistry. I like the way they tease each other and laugh together. They seem like really good friends. It’s fun to watch.

Winslet’s wardrobe is fabulous.

The special effects held up pretty well. Some of it doesn’t look that great, and it should be obvious to anyone who’s ever been in an ocean that the disaster scenes weren't filmed in ocean water, but for the most part it looked better than I was expecting.

The Verdict:
I saw this in the theater when it came out. I liked it then, but I was 22 at the time and harboring a long-term crush on Leonardo DiCaprio. When I tried to watch it again about 5 or 6 years later, I couldn’t get through it because I was bored. So I wasn’t exactly looking forward to seeing it again.

I was a little bored this time too. This movie is very long. There’s also a lot wrong with it. In particular, I think the dialogue is terrible. It’s cheesy and it feels out of place. You know how much I love good dialogue, so when it’s bad, it really kills a film for me. While I think the love story is sweet (although it’s technically adulterous), I don’t think that a sweet love story automatically makes a great film.

On the flip side, I don’t consider this a bad movie. I would be more inclined to call it average or ordinary. It isn’t innovative. It doesn’t have anything new to say. It isn’t deep. It just happens to tell a story that people connected with at the time. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that. I just feel that it isn’t an Oscar-caliber film. When I think about the fact that it won out over the sublime "L.A. Confidential," I die a little on the inside.

I know a lot of women who love this film. I don’t know a single man who even likes it (or who will admit to liking it). You might want to take that into consideration before viewing. 

I've really struggled with how to rate this movie. In the end, I decided to give it 2.75 stars.


Patricia said...

I would argue it was innovative, but not for reasons I think are really great for movie making. James Cameron spent a TON of money on special effects and there were all sorts of James Cameron-like problems due to said technical things, but the movie was adored by billions (which is how James Cameron would put it.)

My Titanic story is that I resisted seeing for ages, because I thought it was going to be bad. But I finally broke down and watched it and loved it. I was recounting the story to my then-boyfriend, who was not at all interested in seeing it, and I was describing the end where the old lady drops the necklace in the ocean and my boyfriend who had only been half-listening to me looked over and said with astonishment, "Are you CRYING?"

"It was a really good movie!" I said in my defense. He rolled his eyes.

That said, I loathe that damn song.

balyien said...

Hahaha. I never thought much about her dropping the necklace when I saw it in the theater, but in the ensuing years I've read a lot of people complaining about how selfish it was of her to do so. I have to admit that, upon this viewing, I kind of agree. Bill Paxton's character spent all this money trying to find that damn necklace and rather than doing him a solid and giving it to him, she just throws it in the ocean. It's really kind of annoying, lol.