Movie Review | Titanic
Movie summary: A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic. (IMDb)
Titanic is one of those movies whose reputation precedes it. Even for film fans, many only remember it for becoming the first movie to make over a billion dollars, while many men overlook it because a love story forms the core of the experience. And many younger people of any kind simply won't bother with an 'old' movie that's over three hours long.
Considering this is a James Cameron movie, dismissing it for any reason is not a good idea. Not only is the guy a master craftsman when it comes to the technical side of making movies, he knows how to make stories and characters work just as well and creating some of the greatest blockbusters cinema has ever seen.
It might take a while coming, thanks to Titanic getting you interested in and caring about the characters affected, but when the ship does strike the iceberg, it's pretty much an edge-of-your-seat, white-knuckle ride until the 'survivors' are splashing around frantically in numbing, ice-cold water. It's just as frenetic and thrilling to watch as anything from Aliens or Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
As I said, it does help that you care so much about the characters and the running time helps immensely, allowing us to see a wide variety of people from differing backgrounds and social statuses in any number of different situations so that even tertiary characters such as Jack's friend, Fabrizio (Danny Nucci) feel familiar and relatable to us when the situation turns life-threatening.
Oh yeah, Jack - Leonardo DiCaprio in full-on young heart-throb mode opposite quintessential 'English Rose' Kate Winslet, even if her character of Rose is actually American. Not only do both of them give fantastic individual performances, lighting up the screen no matter who they're paired with, they're simply electric together.
Even with such a lengthy running time, there are plenty of other screen couples who could never approach the level of chemistry the leading pair display here if you gave them twice as long. Going back to watch Titanic now, you'd swear the pair of them must've had something going on off-camera because of how supremely well they combine in front of it.
Opposite them is Billy Zane as one of the most enjoyable dickish screen antagonists ever in the form of Cal Hockley, a rich, elitist misogynist who would fit in a little too well in modern America. Zane is wonderfully slimy when feeling on top, but while he's clearly a weak, insecure person, he can still remain legitimately intimidating thanks to how far he's willing to go for what he wants.
Supporting him is David Warner, who is flat-out one of the most calmly terrifying presences in any movie Cameron has made. Until disaster strikes, he is unfailingly polite and composed, never drawing any attention to himself and yet the audience remains all too aware that he is always the biggest threat to Jack and Rose at any point in the story.
This isn't to dismiss the rest of the cast either, who all perform their roles to perfection - from Frances Fisher as Rose's domineering and desperate mother to Kathy Bates' Molly, full of energy and life, while not caring in the slightest about differences in social class. You could easily go down the rest of the cast and pick out other amazing performances, but this review would then end up far, far too long.
So why isn't Titanic a 10/10 for me? I honestly don't like the framing device of it all being a story being told by an older Rose in the present day (well, 1997 at least). I can understand why it's there, but I don't it's really necessary for the story being told and does tip the love story from being sweet and genuine towards feeling false and overly-romanticised.
That might not seem like to much of an issue, but the rest of Titanic is so good that I was always pulled out of my immersion in this world, setting and the story of Jack and Rose that it can't help but be a significant black mark against the movie. That is it though, as the rest of the movie is genuinely great.
Titanic is a great movie that unfortunately only seems to be remembered for how huge of a commercial success it was, and not for the quality of the movie itself. DiCaprio and Winslet are a fantastic and utterly convincing young couple in love, both desperate to escape the attentions of an equally good antagonist in Billy Zane. This is a really, really, really good movie - go watch it.