If he’s made one thing clear throughout the course of his career, it’s that James Cameron likes to be involved in all aspects of the filmmaking process for the movies he creates – and that includes when they’re remastered for home viewing. This can be somewhat of an issue with how busy Cameron has been with the creation of Pandora and his extreme focus in building out the Avatar franchise. With his focus largely there, finding the time to oversee the remastering of his other beloved films often can’t take priority. Luckily, that’s about to change across the board for fans of his work, as we’ll be getting a few big ones – including the first remastering and home release of True Lies since its initial DVD back in 2003, never seeing a release in Blu-ray at all.
We begin his 4K remastering with one of the biggest films of all time, Titanic. Just in time to celebrate its 25th anniversary we’re getting the 3-hour epic fully remastered and it’s everything fans could’ve hoped for. Presented in Dolby Vision, Titanic has unsurprisingly never looked better at home. While I’d always recommend seeing this film theatrically at least once if given the chance (some of us were lucky enough to have gotten to do so during its initial run; however, we now also inadvertently make grunting noises when we stand up, so don’t be too jealous), we’re at a point in time where home theaters have never been bigger with visuals or bolder with sounds, so if you don’t get a chance, you’re still getting quite the cinematic experience right in your living room.
What I love about Titanic is that I’m blown away by its magnificence every time I watch it. Granted, unlike some movies I watch repeatedly, I do tend to take a larger break between viewings, as the last time I watched this grandiose masterpiece was back in 2012 for its 15th anniversary Blu-ray release. I didn’t realize that much time had passed until I sat down to watch it, which just shows how quickly time flies by. But getting back to my initial point, which was, Titanic remains a phenomenal movie that’s just incredibly engrossing from start to finish.
There are a lot of movies I’ve seen over a handful times each, but very few hit like Titanic does, where even though you’ve thought it to be perfection after each viewing, you still come out going, “Wow, that’s just a mind-blowingly good movie!” It sounds odd to write it, and I’m sure it sounds even stranger to read it, but that’s the feeling that always hits me when it’s done, and it happened again here with this stunning 4K release.
I’m not sure what it is about it that causes this, but maybe it’s just that I get so wrapped up and captivated in the story and characters each time that I don’t come up for air until the credits roll over 3-hours later. The fact that Cameron had one of the biggest practical sets I can think of made of the ship helps tell the story on a different level. Everything that goes down on that fateful night in the North Atlantic Ocean, and the hours leading into the crash, all feel that much more real because the set doesn’t feel like a set, and such care is given to every detail that you just get transported back to 1912 and forget about everything else.
Cameron and everyone who worked on the film did such a magnificent job that while I know this sounds like a love letter to the film, I’m not really sure how else to write it. Some may knock the love story, but I think it’s handled beautifully. The tale of a young woman of privilege who looks to escape and falls in love with a young man who has barely a penny to his name yet views each day as a gift, and lives to make each day count. Does it sound a bit trite when put like that? Sure. But it’s that classic love story that, if done well, helps a film remain timeless. The chemistry between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet catapults it to another level. And Billy Zane as her villainous millionaire fiancé? Forget about it. Everyone in the cast is amazing, and this wide array of characters all add layers of depth to the story that it’s hard not to get pulled on-board.
While making the film Cameron was viewed as a tyrant of sorts, and while those aren’t circumstances anyone wants to work under, there’s a lot at stake on a film of this size – including a ballooning budget at the time – so to strive for perfection and remain true to his exact vision is admirable. All that hard work by everyone on the crew paid off, as we’re now heading towards three decades later and Titanic has not only stood the test of time but proven to be unsinkable, forever taking its place in Hollywood as one of the greatest epic love stories of all time.
Overall Movie Score: 5/5
4K Blu-ray Video and Audio Review:
While I touched on how gorgeous the 4K remastering is, let’s go a little bit deeper here, as the incredible work done here…well, incredible doesn’t do it justice. This is one of the best remastered 4K releases that has ever been released, without question. The love that has gone into bringing every scene to life in all the best ways is astonishing. Everything fans of film remains, just in the clearest fashion, with absolute stunning visuals, breathtaking details that truly showcase how much work went into the creation of this film on all levels, and just jaw-dropping lighting thanks to the fresh coat of Dolby Vision the movie has been given.
The depth of colours and lights and darks that just flow so naturally thanks to the power of Dolby Vision and the work done here is hard to put into words. Again, this is just some of the best work that the format has seen, and if this is the love that Cameron shows all his works, then here’s hoping his future 4K releases can reach near the same heights. As for Titanic, this is the version to own. That’s often the thing that’s said about 4K releases, because that’s just how progression works; however, the work done here makes a fantastic looking Blu-ray look mediocre in comparison, which should be viewed as higher praise for this remastering over a knock on the 2012 Blu-ray.
Then we’ve got the Dolby Atmos track to coincide with the Dolby Vision and it’s a match so perfect that it even rivals Jack and Rose. The sounds of the film are…again, words just won’t do it justice, but there’s so much happening on the ship, even during regular discussions, and you can hear things all around you. That’s not even getting into the sinking of the ship, where you’re just surrounded with terrifying noises like the room is coming down around you. Plus, one of my favourite pieces by James Horner, “Hymn to the Sea” has never sounded better outside of a theater.
The remastering across the board is simply spectacular, and again it must be stated that this is one of the best 4K releases that the format has seen yet. Do not hesitate to pick it up and add it to your collection at your earliest convenience.
We’ve got a mix of legacy features, as well as some new hefty features, which are always hoped for, but often never expected for these releases. I’ll detail the new features for those interested in what they bring to the table, as well as list the legacy features. So, let’s dive right in!
4K Blu-ray Disc
2005 Audio Commentary – James Cameron speaks about the film in-depth, and really, who else do you want to hear from if you want to learn about the film?
2005 Audio Commentary – Cast and crew speak about working on the film on this track.
2005 Audio Commentary – This one features Historians Don Lynch and Ken Marschall. So overall you’ve got three different tracks with different perspectives, and lots to learn for those who love audio commentaries!
**NEW for this release**
Titanic: Stories from the Heart – This is a 36-minute documentary of sorts, and I love that we get to hear from so many this long after the fact. Often it’s hard to make these types of things happen, but this is fun and awesome to see. The feature sees the cast and crew look back on the making-of this epic film, how it’s held up over the past 25 years, and pretty much everything to do with it, from the visuals to the costume design.
Titanic: 25 Years Later with James Cameron – This is a beefy 42-minute feature that seems Cameron deep-dive into the history of Titanic, looking back on the film, and also appeasing those who always thought Jack could’ve fit on the piece of wood and survived. I don’t care what the tests say! Jack tried to get on, and it shifted their weight and Rose slipped into the water. He did what he had to do to ensure she survived. Let it go people! Her heart will go on!
Behind-the-Scenes Presentation Hosted by Jon Landau – This is a 34-minute feature that brings together some previous making-of extras, so it kind of brings things together into an easier to digest package for those who want to just set it and forget it for half-an-hour, instead of watching a few minutes, clicking “Next”, etc…Plus, there are plenty who haven’t seen these before, so it’s nice to have them together like this.
Trailer Presentation Hosted by Jon Landau – This is an 8-minute featurette that sees Landau talk about the advertising of the film all those decades ago, as well as a look at a trailer that gave the film action-movie vibes. Brief, but fun stuff!
Reflections on Titanic – This is a 4-part documentary that’s over an hour in length.
Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron
Additional Behind the Scenes
Upside-Down Wreck Miniature
Escondido Underwater Set
1912 Morph Transition VFX
Deep-Dive Presentation Narrated by James Cameron
$200,000,001: A Ship’s Odyssey
VFX Shot Breakdown: Engine Room
VFX How-To for I’m Flying
VFX How-To for First-Class Lounge
Titanic Sinking Simulation
Titanic Scriptment by James Cameron
Ken Marschall’s Painting Gallery
Concept Posters and One Sheets
Paramount Pictures Presents Titanic. Written and Directed by: James Cameron. Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Bill Paxton, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bernard Hill, Victor Garber, Danny Nucci, David Warner, Jonathan Hyde, Suzy Amis. Running time: 194 Minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on 4K Blu-ray: Dec. 5, 2023.