Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Titanic 3D Review

The tragic sinking of the ship, Titanic, occurred on April 15, 1912. In time for the one hundredth anniversary, Twentieth Century Fox has re-released the 1997 film Titanic, directed and written by James Cameron. This rich film won eleven Academy awards including Best Picture and Best Director. What makes this re-release different is that the movie was converted from 2d to 3D for this year's showing. So, the question becomes, "Is Titanic 3D worth the extra bucks to see it?"

Titanic is an epic love story between the impoverished Jack (Leonard DiCaprio) and the high society Rose. (Kate Winslet) The movie starts out in 1996 when old Rose (Gloria Stuart) is taken aboard a ship trying to find a valuable diamond necklace which was given to her on the Titanic. She tells the story of her love affair with Jack to the crew in a flashback.

Watching Titanic again, one is reminded what makes this film great. There are the performances. Leonard Dicaprio is excellent as the smitten and romantic Jack. Kate Winslet portrays her Rose as a woman trapped in a loveless engagement only to be rescued by Jack. Gloria Stuart deserved her nomination for Best Supporting Actress. There's great scene where the crew discusses the missing diamond necklace and how it was supposed to be still on the sunken Titanic. Stuart subtly moves her eyes and makes a small facial gesture indicating she knows where the necklace is and it is her secret. It's easier to pick up the subtleties of the performances on the big screen.

Then there is the skill used to bring the story to life. Director Cameron expertly guides his actors and his visual style is beautiful. There needs to be more compliments about Cameron's writing. From the metaphor of a tight corset that Rose must wear to the emotional dialogue, Cameron's screenplay does a wonderful job of telling the story. James Horner's score is also majestic and warm.

But is this new version, one which is re-released in 3D as a result of converting the 2D film, worth the extra dollars that a moviegoer will have to fork over? There's an irony here. Cameron was a critic of converting 2D movies to 3D. In a speech, he said, " “It doesn’t make any sense to shoot in 2D and convert to 3D.” Yet, Cameron does this.

James Cameron's style of directing is conducive to converting Titanic to 3D. The broad but steady camera movements emulate 3D shots. However, the conversion technology is not as good as filming a movie in native 3D. Converting a 2D movie is akin to taking the images of a movie and cutting them out to form a pop up book. You can take a picture of Jack from the movie, pop him up in a scene. But since Jack was not filmed in 3D, he's still in 2D.

For example, there's a segment of the movie where the weakness of the 3D conversion process is clear. Take the scene in the ship's cargo hold where Jack and Rose consummate their love in a car. There are crates with ropes securing them surrounding the car. If this was shot in 3D, the ropes and the crates' edges would pop out. In this conversion, they don't. Only, the picture of the 2D crates stand out, giving the scene a pop up book look. Light, shadow and depth are not present in a 3D conversion.

Darkness also plagues 3D conversions. Look, you're watching a movie with polarized glasses. Those dark lenses give any 3D conversion a feel that you're watching the movie through a filter. Titanic in 3D doesn't suffer as much since the original 2D version was well lit. Still, it's a little dark.

Another problem is with Titanic's conversion is that Cameron probably wasn't thinking 3D conversion in 1996. Obviously, today's 3D technology did not exist back then. That means shots were not set up to take advantage of the 3D format. If you get a chance to see Hugo or Pina (2011) in 3D, you'll know what I mean. Martin Scorsese and Wim Wenders respectively put together scenes to take advantage the 3D medium. The result for those movies is that the 3D stood out by giving scenes depth, and space. Titanic has few scenes which call out for a 3D effect.

While I applaud Cameron's expensive effort to convert Titanic to 3D, there's not enough in the movie where the conversion process makes anything look special. An occasional scene may work primarily because the object being shown was simple without the nooks and crannies. But many scenes have the pop up book effect. Most of the movie lacks any sense of pushing out from the screen or depth.

If you're a fan of Titanic or want to see the movie again on the big screen, the grade for the movie in 2D is A. There's nothing special about Titanic 3D to warrant spending extra bucks to see it. The grade for the conversion of Titanic 3D is C Plus.

1 comment:

Liza.T said...

it was a nice experience once again watching titanic on big screen n that too in 3d, i loved this movie when it was released in 2d years back n it somewhat reminded me of my teenage memories too, overall 3d quality is good but not best but loved it anyways