Blu-ray Review: Titanic
by Brendan Campbell on September 16, 2012


Fifteen years ago James Cameron delivered one of the biggest and best blockbusters of all time in Titanic, and it’s now one of the biggest and best Blu-rays of all time as well. Back in 1997, young girls flooded the theater (pardon the pun) to watch Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) fall in love aboard the ill-fated luxury cruise ship; and while many guys groaned at it the same way they do with Twilight now, there’s no denying that Titanic is one of the greatest love stories ever told.

There are plenty of films that don’t hold up over time; however, after watching Titanic in the latest digital format, it’s quite obvious that the film holds that timeless feel that will last throughout the ages. This shouldn’t be a major surprise, as writer-director James Cameron tends to make sure his films are created with cutting edge technology – to the point where he’ll sometimes hold off filming a movie until the desired equipment is invented.

With Titanic, the transition to Blu-ray is a flawless one, with superb picture quality that really shows how magnificent this film looks. The visual effects remain just as impressive today as they were when the film was first released, which really shows how far ahead of the game Cameron can envision things. The sound is also more than impressive which, along with every other technical aspect of the film, continues to show why Titanic sank the competition at the Academy Awards (okay, really sorry for that one.)

One of the other things that makes Titanic such a masterpiece is the sheer amount of care and detail that went into the production of the sets, the costumes, the historical accuracies, and the film’s characters. There’s such a huge supporting cast to this film, yet every single actor – no matter how small the part – completely transport back to the Titanic, and embody the character they’re playing. While we recognize the faces of these actors, we’re so engrossed in their performances that the characters are all we see.

Of the main cast, Winslet and DiCaprio are simply perfect, and carry this huge film with their chemistry and performances. Winslet (only 19 at the time!) was nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards, while DiCaprio (also a fresh face on the scene) was infamously snubbed, and allegedly skipped the awards in protest. This was the same year which Matt Damon was nominated for Good Will Hunting, so it could be that the Academy didn’t want two fresh faces in one of their top categories, though Jack Nicholson was pretty much a shoe-in to win regardless.

One of the film’s other major players, who helped set the tone and make the relationship between Jack and Rose that much more romantic, was Billy Zane. Zane played the part of Cal Hockley, Rose’s evil, controlling fiancé, and he did so brilliantly. This is just another instance where the perfect actor wasn’t necessarily the one with the biggest box-office pull, as Zane makes Hockley one of the most despicable villains in cinematic history.

Another huge driving force in this film is the score by James Horner, which not surprisingly won an Academy Award. It’s absolutely beautiful, haunting, mesmerizing and heart-wrenching, as it hits all the emotional notes throughout. It may sound bizarre, but once the film finished and I went back to the main menu, the score alone that plays over the title screen made me want to start the film back up and go for round two.

As for Cameron, it’s clear that he’s one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. While he may have proved that to some with some of his previous releases, Titanic is the one that really made him king of the cinematic world. The sheer amount of flack he was getting back during the film’s production about how Titanic would be one of the biggest bombs in movie history, and how he was just setting himself up for disappointment was brushed off by Cameron, who kept his eye on the prize and got the last laugh – a couple of billion, in fact.

Titanic is a blockbuster of epic proportions, and also a cinematic masterpiece. Cameron’s vision was fully realized, and his execution was perfect. The film comes in at over three hours in length, and yet it’s so well paced and so captivating that it’s hard to believe that so much time has passed once the credits start to role. If you haven’t seen Titanic as of yet, then this is a must buy, and if you have seen it (and likely own a copy or two already) know that the Blu-ray is not surprisingly the definitive version to own, and will be money well spent.

This movie won an Academy Award for every technical category it was nominated in, and it shows why in this brilliant Blu-ray transfer. The sound effects, musical score and sound mix in general is flawless, and really pulls you into the film. The visuals are fantastic, with superb clarity, and wonderful effects bringing the entire production to life.

Special Features:

The sheer amount of extras to be found on this Blu-ray, which mixes a couple of new features with some of the older features from the Collector’s Edition DVD. It’s a fantastic group of extras that will leave you wishing for nothing.

Disc One:

Audio Commentary – There are three audio commentaries found on the main feature disc, with one by James Cameron alone, another by cast and crew, and finally one with Historian Don Lynch. Cameron is the one that is a must listen if you’re only going to pick one. This is obviously his baby, and he really leaves no stone unturned when it comes to dissecting the film throughout this commentary track. Fans will want to check out the cast and crew track, which may seem cluttered after you learn that there’s upwards of 15+ people on the track; however, it was all cut together and they weren’t recorded at once, which helps make this an interesting and informative track, instead of a constant interrupting fest of people trying to say what they want to say. Those looking to hear actual facts about the Titanic while the film is playing will want to check out Lynch’s track, though it is the least entertaining of the three, depending on your perspective.

Disc 2:

Reflections on Titanic This is a new feature added for this release of the film, and it runs at just over an hour in length. It’s a great piece that has lots of cast and crew (though no DiCaprio) reflecting back on the shoot, the work being done, the set, the tireless job done by Cameron, and the media hype surrounding the disaster that the film was destined to be. It also covers the post-production aspects, as well as the release of the film. There’s so much here in 60 minutes, that many would find this to be enough, and yet it’s only the beginning.

Titanic: The Final Word With James Cameron – This is the second new feature, which runs at just over 90 minutes in length, and it sees Cameron and a room full of Titanic experts debating what exactly happened to the ship, what he may have gotten wrong while filming, and basically once and for all figuring out what happened to the ship on that fateful night. It’s quite a hefty piece, with lots of information going around, but it’s incredibly interesting with lots of cool discoveries along the way.

Deleted Scenes – There are 30 deleted scenes, which run at a combined length of just under an hour. Normally I hate deleted scenes, and it’s easy to see why they were cut; however, these are a must watch. Not that they’re all overly great, but Cameron actually gives commentary on each scene, and why he chose to cut them. It’s brilliant and time flies by thanks to his entertaining words. These are a must WITH commentary!

Behind-the Scenes – This is a menu that breaks into 31 separate behind-the-scenes featurettes, which have a combined runtime of just over an hour. This may make it a bit easier for some, as they’re smaller, though I recommend watching them all at once, as they sort of tell a story and are incredibly interesting. If I have one complaint it’s that they’re all in a format that doesn’t fit widescreen TVs well. While I don’t expect them to change the ratio, a simple addition of the watery sidebars like they do in the new features would suffice.

Construction Time-lapse – This is a four-minute feature that has commentary from the documentary director Ed Marsh. It shows the construction of the absolutely HUGE set that was built for the film. It’s simple, yet brilliant. Insane to see all the work and time that went into this massive set.

Deep Dive Presentation (Narrated by James Cameron) – This is a 15-minute feature that sees Cameron talk about filming the actual Titanic wreck, and exploring the inside of the broken ship.

$200,000,001: A Ship’s Odyssey (The Titanic Crew Video) – These are crew videos that run at just under 18-minutes in length. There are some funny clips, as these are almost blooper reels of sorts.

Videomatics – This is a three-part feature that runs at a short three minutes in length. While short, it shows just how important pre-production is, and how doing so allowed Cameron to know just how many sets he’d need to build, and what size they’d have to be to get the shots he’d need.

Visual Effects – This runs at just under eight minutes in length and is a behind-the-scenes look at some of the visual effects for the film, and how they came to be.

Music Video: “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion – This is one of the most recognizable songs ever, and it’s also one of the worst music videos ever. A cheap set with Dion singing on it is intertwined with clips from the film. Adding film clips is absolutely fine; however, why they weren’t able to get Dion a better set is beyond me.

Titanic Parodies – There are three Titanic Parodies to be found here, with one of them being from the MTV Movie Awards in 1998 with Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn talking to James Cameron talking about a sequel. There’s also an Saturday Night Live skip from 1999, which sees Bill Paxton reprising his role as Brock Lovett, though this time he’s not such a nice guy to Rose! The scene is an alternate ending, as James Cameron explains in a hilarious reveal. Lastly, there’s Titanic in 30 Seconds with Bunnies.

There are also TV spots, trailers, still galleries and credits.

One of the greatest blockbuster movies ever made is now one of the greatest Blu-rays ever made, as Titanic really hits a homerun on all fronts with this release. From the fantastic visuals, to the stunning audio, this is the definitive version of the film to own, and definitely worth the double or triple dip you’ve likely done by this point if you’re a fan. Highest recommendation.

Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox Present Titanic. Written and Directed by: James Cameron. Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Victor Garber, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Bill Paxton, Gloria Stuart, Bernard Hill, Danny Nucci, Jonathan Hyde, David Warner. Running time: 194 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released: September 10, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.



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