"I take orders from the Octoboss."


tn_titanicHey, any of you guys ever seen TITANIC? It’s one of the later movies from the guy who did TERMINATOR. Bill Paxton stars as Brock Lovett, a deep sea explorer using THE ABYSS-style equipment to search the wreckage of the Titanic for a lost diamond. Along the way he meets Rose (Gloria Stuart), a 101 year old survivor of the famous shipwreck who teaches him valuable life lessons and what not. Also there are some flashbacks featuring Kate Winslet (HEAVENLY CREATURES ) as the younger Rose and Leonardo Dicaprio (THE QUICK AND THE DEAD), but don’t worry, he’s not supposed to be young Bill Paxton, he’s a different character.

Really, I’m surprised you guys haven’t heard of this. It was a pretty big deal at the time from what I remember.

mp_titanicI’d seen TITANIC exactly once before watching it again recently, and it was pretty much how I remembered. This is the worst writing Cameron has done (including his emails to Harry) and his most one-dimensional characters since Sarah Connor’s roommate in THE TERMINATOR. They’re all one-sided coins. Rose is practically a Disney Princess – feisty rich girl who ruffles the collars of her uptight mother and society friends by questioning their prim and proper lifestyle and not wanting to marry the asshole businessman (Billy Zane, SNIPER) she seems to be arranged to marry. Jack (DiCaprio) is the perfect dream boy fling for her: funny, brave, sensitive, an artist, a world traveler, a peasant, possibly a beat poet. He makes the hobo lifestyle sound thrilling and romantic, free of bad teeth or the smell of urine.

And they both find themselves talking constantly about their lifestyles. Jack is downright evangelical about his, he believes you have to have fun all the time, go where the wind takes you. You need to enjoy your life now, not later, because you never know what’s gonna happen. I mean you really, really never know. Absolutely anything could happen. You’re never safe, even on a boat like this where people are always commenting on how unsinkable it is. I mean, I can’t imagine that anything bad would happen on this particular trip obviously, but in general, after they get off the boat, they gotta appreciate every day like it’s the last day before they crash into an iceberg and freeze to death in the water.

But I don’t know, for some reason I forgive some of that aggressive corniness in a romantic melodrama/boat-destruction extravaganza like this. I have a harder time with Billy Zane’s character. This is a movie where the boat everybody’s on sinks – you don’t need to have an evil bad guy. The iceberg seems sympathetic compared to this prick. He spends the whole movie proving what a dick he is: making classist comments, bragging about being an important businessman, bossing Rose around, saying that Picasso sucks and will never amount to anything, trying to bribe his way onto a lifeboat, even snatching a kid and pretending to be her parent when the bribe doesn’t work. Everything short of building a diabolical machine that turns peasants into delicious bon bons.

There’s a moment after Rose has re-boarded the sinking ship to be with Jack, and Zane looks heartbroken. You have about 2 seconds to think “Maybe he’s human after all” before he pulls out a gun and it turns into a chase and shootout. This is a terrible character. Poor Billy Zane. I know Tom Berenger taught him better than this.

And man, all the heavy-handed irony in this movie! Always nudging us about it’s gonna sink. All the rich people splashing a bunch of hubris around, saying stupid shit about the Titanic being unsinkable and why would you need life boats anyway and we’ll never die and definitely not in the water and there really is no such thing as icebergs anyway it’s just a ghost story that poor people tell. Okay some of that doesn’t happen in the movie, but they do have Rose notice and comment on there not being enough life boats. And she happens to become friends with the designer of the boat so we can hear what he has to say about various things. And they gotta focus on every detail from their research, the exact time when so-and-so made such-and-such fatal call. James Cameron loves the Titanic disaster like Zack Snyder loves the Watchmen comic book.

But still, I’m not questioning the phenomenon of this movie, because I kind of like it. Somehow, despite all that the story pulls me in. Maybe in some way it captures what young love feels like. When you’re that age and you fall head over heels for somebody every dumb moment seems like the most important thing that ever happened. There’s an endless list of legitimate grounds to criticize this movie on, but I always kind of felt people who hated it were a little too hard on it just for appealing to teenage girls. What, they’re not allowed to have movies? I haven’t seen TWILIGHT yet but I bet this is better.

Anyway, for those of us who aren’t teenage girls the main thing is that this is an incredible spectacle, and it seems better and better the more disaster movies Roland Emmerich makes. Cameron had already had alot of practice with water disaster action in THE ABYSS, now he returns with digital technology, an even more gigantic budget and an obsessive drive to recreate every last detail of what happened. So he builds this world of opulence, fancy clothes and pretty sunsets, then he bashes it, snaps it in half and leaves it to freeze to death. You can’t really deny how fascinating it is to watch. I gotta admit I never got bored.

Three hours, twenty minutes and he still doesn’t find much time for subtlety. But he finds some a couple times. My favorite section of the movie is when the band, having been playing through all this panic, says their goodbyes and split up. But the violinist keeps playing. The others hear it and can’t help but come back and join him for one more song. Maybe they’re even thinking it’s the last song they’ll ever play. Definitely the last they’ll play together.

Then as they play the song it shows the designer of the boat and the captain in their own private hells. I think it’s a different scene though where a woman is asking the captain for help. He doesn’t answer, just stumbles away, dazed, into his flooded quarters. For once Cameron knows not to explain it to us. We can imagine what he’s thinking. There he is, that’s the James Cameron I love, the one who knew that Ripley glaring at space marines talking about alien pussy in the messhall said everything we needed to know about her opinion of macho assholes.

You know who gets screwed in this movie? Fabrizio. That’s Jack’s buddy he gets on the boat with. They check into a room together but I think after Jack meets Rose he ditches him. They run into each other while the boat’s sinking, and they hug like old childhood friends running into each other years later. There’s no time to explain that he stopped a rich girl from committing suicide, borrowed a tux, went to dinner, taught her to spit loogies, drew her naked and fucked her in the back of somebody’s car. Jack convinced Fabrizio to come with him, then left him alone and I think he dies, although I could be wrong.

You know, people always joke about TITANIC sequels. Maybe there’s your answer. Maybe Fabrizio had an incredibly romantic escapade of his own. Show the whole thing from his perspective, you get some Leo cameos – this could work.

Another steerage passenger who gets a raw deal is Shine. They don’t even show him. They got the Unsinkable Molly Brown and a Rockefeller but not Shine. I looked and didn’t even see any black people working in the engine room. Dolemite must’ve been pissed when he saw this movie.


Anyway, I get it. Corny as hell, but I gotta admit it’s captiving. It’s harder to understand how it became the unbeatable biggest movie ever. Now when a movie comes along that’s a huge cultural phenomenon and mainstream moneymaker – like DARK KNIGHT, let’s say – it might clean up, but it’s never gonna get close to TITANIC. Why is that? Why this one? I don’t know man, it was just a must-see event. It seemed grownup because it’s sort of based in history, and real life tragedy, so it brought in all those older individuals who only see movies in the theater once or twice a year. But it was also exactly the time when young girls swooned for Leonardo Dicaprio, so it brought in those teenage girls like they were 25 years olds watching Star Wars. And it also had this curiosity factor with all the press about being overbudget and over schedule, most expensive movie ever, groundbreaking special effects, etc. etc. It played for months and months. Most movies these days the theater-to-DVD window is much shorter than just the theatrical run of TITANIC. Everybody had to see it and some had to see it over and over again. Weird.

Also, this is when PG-13 still included boobs, you don’t see that too often anymore. Violence, but not boobs.

In the end though it all comes down to Bill Paxton, and America’s love of stories about sea exploration. That’s just where the zeitgeist was at in ’97. They love those stories about dudes watching monitors with blurry footage of shipwrecks.

On one of the DVDs there’s a much longer ending where Paxton confronts old Rose as she’s about to dump the diamond off the boat, and she ends up letting him touch it before throwing it over and he has learned that there’s more to life than treasure. On the optional audio commentary Cameron explains that when they watched the whole movie with this ending they realized they didn’t care what happened to this character – so if we don’t care about him at the end, why do you think we care about him at the beginning? But actually watching it this time I appreciated the Paxton scenes more. I used to think they were gratuitous overindulgence of Cameron’s sea exploration fetish, but maybe not. Showing Rose in the modern world looking back kind of puts the story in a different context than if it just ended after the crash and gave us some text about what happened to her. It shows her as a woman who lived a whole life instead of just somebody on the Titanic with a corny backstory.

I do have some questions about that ending though. You can interpret it different ways, but it seems most likely to represent her dying and going to a Heaven where everybody from the movie TITANIC is waiting for her triumphant return. So they all spend eternity on the fucking cruise ship? Is this by choice or by law? I mean I guess it’s like living in luxury, and after this long and not being mortal they don’t get too bummed out by the memory of what happened there.

But what about Rose’s husband? That poor sucker is off in some other Heaven thinking he’s waiting for Rose, she goes to Titanic Heaven to be with Jack, some boy she knew for a couple days one time. None of her family knows about him, and I’m not sure they even knew she was on the Titanic judging from her granddaughter’s confusion when she’s interested in a story about the Titanic on TV. This is just a shocking twist. But maybe it’s just because it’s fresh on her mind? What if Bill Paxton hadn’t got her nostalgic about this right before she died, would she have gone off to the afterlife with her husband?

I mean how long would that Jack-Rose relationship have lasted anyway? How long would she have wanted to be dragged along with him, jumping on the back of trains and sleeping under bridges? Once they were familiar with each other’s lifestyles what would they talk about? He better have more in his repertoire than all that seize the day shit. It’s real exciting when she’s pissing off her mom and he’s imploring her to follow her dreams, but what does that relationship look like after they’ve been together a couple years?

I guess they’ll find out now because they’re on the fucking Titanic forever. Maybe that’s what TITANIC 2 should be about, actually: the ghosts of Jack and Rose trying to escape the eternal Titanic. How far can they swim away before the dark spirits swallow them down to Hell? Bill Paxton plays a paranormal investigator. Think about it, Cameron. The technology is ready.

This entry was posted on Monday, December 14th, 2009 at 12:06 pm and is filed under Reviews, Romance. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

82 Responses to “Titanic”

  1. I cry like a baby with this film anytime i see it. This movie kicks ass. Not every chick flick has David Warner shooting a 45 in it.

  2. Good afternoon, Vern.

    Concerning Titanic’s success, allow me to refresh your memory on the time period. Titanic came out during the winter, which is Oscar Season. These movies win tons of awards, but don’t usually do so well at the box office (or didn’t back then). So there wasn’t much competition for a blockbuster like Titanic.

    After Oscar Season comes Cinematic No Man’s Land, where all the movies that the studios regret having made get released. This goes on for several months. So Titanic STILL has no competition.

    Had Titanic come out in the summer, it wouldn’t have made as much money, in all probability. Releasing a “summer blockbuster” during Oscar Season was a brilliant move that I’m surprised more studios haven’t tried.

    Finally, I recall someone once saying that when Titanic came out, “girls finally got their Star Wars”. If true, that helps to explain the phenomenon as well.

  3. Also, about the Ending: if Rose kept that jewel and never sold it, how exactly did she fund her exciting, adventure packed life? Considering she’d taken up the identity of a commoner, and had no usefull skills to make a living, how exactly is she going to afford flying lessons, never mind the biplane?!
    Also, what the fuck is up with “Don’t let go, Rose!” “I won’t Jack, I won’t let go!” While…actually letting him go to sink to the icy depths? Is that more of that irony?

  4. I’m staring at the picture of the two lions. I want to look away. And yet I cannot. WHAT IS IT!? WHAT DOES IT MEAN??! Is it furry porn, or a visual pun on the name “leo”, or what!?

    Also, the html coding in the middle of the review is currently broken. Otherwise, great review as usual Vern, now it’s time for Vampire’s Kiss, kthxbi.

  5. I think we all know what the sequel to Titanic would really be called. I’m not even going to insult your intelligence by bringing it up.

    This movie is corny as hell and way too long and goddamn if I don’t cry like Glenn Beck every time I see it. It’s shameless audience manipulation at its best. Just a solid old school melodrama like I normally wouldn’t watch if you paid me, but this one has a dude dinging off of a giant propeller like a Plinko chip so it gets away with it.

    Shame about Billy Zane, though. He’s third-billed in the biggest movie of all time and he practically falls of the face of the earth because he was too good at being a jerk. Can anyone think of any other examples where a dude’s career is hurt by playing a character too well? Anthony Perkins, I guess. Anybody else?

  6. Okay, html in the middle is fixed now.

  7. Yes, Fabrizio died. He was one of the people who had one half of the ship landing on them, if I remember right.
    I gotta say that while the movie never really clicked with me, I was also impressed by how short it felt. I gets unbelievable corny at times, but never boring. (Which probably makes it better than the Director’s Cut of T2. I mean that one gets really boring in the middle.) But all in all I would say that the movie is neither as bad as many people say, nor as good as the others say. But to be honest, that applies to many movies (Especially in these days of “I hate everything and tell you about it on the internet”.).

    Useless personal trivia: Leo DiCaprio’s Grandma was one of the local celebrities in the area where I live. From what I’ve heard she was a cool lady and Leo often came to visit her. Unfortunately she died a few years ago and now all we can be proud of is that singer and “Das Boot”-actor Herbert Grönemeyer beat the crap out of a paparazzi at our local cemetary while Jürgen Prochnow was watching and that Ralph Möller and Matthias Hues also come from here.

  8. Titanic 2: Electric Booga– no, okay, this one is admittedly an exception in favor of the other option. I’ll give you all that one. {g}

    Someone whose career _wasn’t_ exactly hurt by this movie, by the way, is the officer who shoots the revolver in the air in order to get order for the evacuation. He went on, apparently propelled by the sheer unspeakable awesomeness of this one scene, to play Horatio Hornblower in a definitive miniseries of the novels.

    After which he fell off the face of the earth. But Billy Zane probably got paid more overall. So there’s that.

  9. I was a kid when I first saw this, and Fabrizio was the only character I liked, so I remember him dying. I’m pretty sure he got crushed by something, maybe one of the smokestacks. And remember the guy who hit the propeller? That was cool

  10. I didn’t like the movie, but I have to admit some of the visuals, like when the ship breaks in half and stands on its ends, were cool as hell on the big theater screen.

    Of course Fabrizio lives. He moves to Sicily to blow up Michael Corleone’s car and kill his wife.

  11. CJ Holden: I fully expect in the director’s cut of Titanic, someone down in the hold throws a switch that allows the ship to be capable of audience and character sympathy when it cracks in half and dies. Rather than this being earned by the inherent character of the ship in any way. The captain or the ship’s designer gives the order to do it. After being hit by the icerberg, I’m going to guess, since it wouldn’t make any narrative sense to throw that switch earlier.

  12. wait wait, his name was… Brock Lovett?! Are you sure you didn’t review the porno parody by accident?

  13. Oh, btw, I still think it’s a shame that Starship Troopers lost in the best F/X category against Titanic.

  14. Titanic 2: Port of Call New Orleans. Fabrizio survives the crash and chases Billy Zane across America s he tries to collect the jewels. Once again, he is forgotten and neglected by society.

  15. Mr. Majestyk.

    I once saw a documentary on horror movies that said that Max Von Sydow had trouble getting jobs after The Exorcist. He looked for younger-man roles, but all the studios saw The Exorcist and thought he was old…when in fact he was a young man who’d just been put into good makeup that made him look older.

  16. One more thing (It’s about one thing Mr Majestyk wrote, but it’s not directly aimed at him): I hate it when people accuse some special movies of being manipulative towards the audience. I mean, hello, movies are all about manipulating the audience! From the score to the cinematography, it is all used to make you feel what the makers want you to feel! If you hate to get your feelings manipulated, then you shouldn’t watch movies.

  17. “Someone whose career _wasn’t_ exactly hurt by this movie, by the way, is the officer who shoots the revolver in the air in order to get order for the evacuation. He went on, apparently propelled by the sheer unspeakable awesomeness of this one scene, to play Horatio Hornblower in a definitive miniseries of the novels.

    After which he fell off the face of the earth.”
    Uh…Fantastic Four? Hey, no one said he was in anything GOOD….well he was in that film Amazing Grace about the guy who got the slave trade ended in britain.

  18. Thora Birch kinda disappeared after Ghost World. I’m assuming it’s because everyone thought she was too hip to touch.

  19. Well, of course all movies (and all art) is manipulative. The creator has a goal, and he molds the materials at his disposal towards achieving that goal. So when I say Titanic is audience manipulation at its best, I don’t mean that it’s doing something other movies aren’t. It’s just doing it bigger and better. While most movies are just manipulating you to more or less care about and be entertained by the shit you’re watching, Titanic wants nothing less than to make every motherfucker watching it weep like little baby bitches with pink eye. And it works on most people, whether they want to admit it or not.

  20. I, shock of shocks, have never seen this movie. It’s one of the few titles remaining that everyone and their perverted uncle has seen, and not me. I did see some of the ship-sinking parts in a high school class one time though.

  21. I’m pretty sure this movie was so big because he dies at the end. They went back over and over to fall in love with him and hope that this time he gets off alive. Same as Casablanca. If he had lived, I think the movie would have made much less.

  22. Am I the only one who thought Kate Winslet was really attractive in this movie?

    I guess so because I remember after this movie came out the media gave the standard fat girl treatment in which they call you fat for three issues of a magazine, then have a fourth issue where they interview Kate and say that the media (themselves) put unrealistic expectations on women for their bodies, then the week after they go back to calling her fat.

    I mean jeez, she was a great looking woman. Sorry if she is too fat for you but I will gladly take her and you wont see me showing up and forcefeeding your Sienna Millers and Charlize Therons. So let me have my curvy gal.

  23. Kate Winslet was and is hot. She would have broken bony-ass Leo in half.

  24. She’s actually gotten more gorgeus as time has passed. I was more in love with her after Eternal Sunshine then I ever was in this movie. I am not a fan of Titanic, especially now because every fucking movie that makes money or wins awards is stuck getting compared to it.

  25. BTW, I think Vern’s idea for a sequel should get the Sartre crossover treatment. NO EXIT: TITANIC RESURRECTION. Tagline: Hell is other people…underwater.

  26. Brendan,

    Maybe I’m dense, but I am not understanding your CASABLANCA comparison.

  27. I’ve never seen TITANIC either. I remember hearing about people who had seen it a dozen times in the theatre, which blew my mind. I can’t imagine wanting to see ANY movie that many times in such a short space of time. I was so sick of hearing about it that I never went to see it. The fact that it was mostly a sappy, melodramatic love story didn’t really help either.

    Besides, Kate Winslet’s best performance is clearly her appearance on EXTRAS. “How many more movies do we need about the Holocaust? I mean, we get it, it was grim.”

  28. A Titanic sequel should get the Year It’s Taking Place (or even roughly taking place) subtitle treatment, like TITANIC:2010.

  29. I remember hyping my firends to see TITANIC opening weekend for no other reason than it was the latest James Cameron film. I saw it before it became the cinematic event of the time (which took a few weeks after opening). As the phenomenon (and the backlash) grew, my opinion never changed. Yes, it’s corny as hell and some of the visual effects haven’t held up well at all, but it’s still a good film dagnabbit.

    One thing I find amusing watching it now is the thought that Jack and Rose are inadvertently responsible for the ship hitting the iceburg. As portrayed in the film, the ship was this*close to dodging it. As the sequence of events go, we see the watchman looking at Jack and Rose on the deck, he smiles, looks up and OH SHIT iceburg. Our young lovers distracted the watchman from his duties and made the disaster possible. Those extra few seconds he was looking down mighta made the difference.

    My theory on the PG-13 was that Winslet only showed one boob. Had she shown the deuce, it woulda likely got the R. Or maybe it’s a by volume thing. If you can show one boob per three hours, I guess you can show two if your film is six hours long and still get a PG-13.

  30. I think it’s pretty clear why Titanic made more money than the Dark Knight. Girls. I know that more girls than ever are into comic book movies than they were when Titanic came out. But The Dark Knight didn’t have a romance novel…romance that Titanic had. That’s also why the Twlight movies make a lot of money. Girls eat this romance novel romance up. But Titanic had the advantage of also destroying a famous shit with amazing special effects. So even if the dude had to be dragged to see Titanic a bunch of times they would still tolerate it because the effects were amazing.

    It also had about the best word of mouth ever. It made 28 million it’s first weekend but the following weekend it made 60 million dollars and I’m pretty sure it didn’t go up against a single movie people gived a shit about too.

  31. Dan- It’s the downer ending. If Casablanca had ended with Ilsa an Rick running off with each other, do you think the movie would at all be memorable or have the legacy it holds onto? I don’t think so.

  32. Plainly, the sequel would be TWOTANIC.

    I saw this on opening day and thought it was pretty damn entertaining, like all of Cameron’s stuff. Never watched it since, but caught bits of it on the telly: hokey as hell. Couldn’t sit through it again.

    The only other relatively-serious oscar contender that year was L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, I think.

  33. The love story in Titanic is identical to the Sarah Conner/Kyle Reese story in Terminator with an iceberg & shipwreck substituted for the killer robot from the future. This is a well-done, effective movie, but that always bugged me. Cameron basically rewrote the same story as a historical drama.

    That is all.

  34. Re: the ending

    Maybe there’s an alternate ending where, after we see Rose in heaven, we get to see Billy Zane floating in hell like Dr. Hans Rhinehardt in “The Black Hole”.

  35. Listen, and understand. That iceberg is out there.

    It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear.

    And it absolutely will not stop, EVER, until you are dead.

  36. Brendan,

    Okay, my confusion was that I wasn’t sure who “they” were in your original comment (I thought you were referring to the characters, not the audience) plus you made it sound like the hero dies at the end of CASABLANCA.

    Certainly the ending of CASABLANCA is iconic and a significant part of the film’s legacy, although, you know, the rest of the movie has its virtues. Personally, I wouldn’t classify its ending as a downer in, say, the ROMEO AND JULIET sense. I’m pretty sure most people feel good after watching CASABLANCA, not bummed out. So I’m not sure if there’s really much of a comparison between the endings of CASABLANCA and TITANIC.

  37. Dan- You’re probably right. But I do think that many of the more memorable and iconic endings are the ones that end on down or bittersweet points. Case in point: Empire Strikes Back.

  38. Now that I think about it, the hero dies at the end of PASSION OF THE CHRIST, so I guess that was a big movie with a downer ending. But then he comes back from the dead in the last scene, so it’s kind of a copout.

  39. Yeah, I heard the studio imposed that bullshit happy ending on Mel. I wonder if the director’s cut fixes that.

  40. I really liked that ending. Nice little smile, kind of like, “Is that the best you can do? Oh well, nice try.”

  41. This was so damn good, Vern. I don’t know why but the best writing I’ve ever read about this movie was when you wrote “fucked her in the back of somebody’s car”.

    And any time someone bitches that Cameron writes juvenile horseshit and he can’t write a believable adult relationship I remind them to go watch The Abyss. Flaws and all despite all the fuckery that movie took to make it has a completely credible divorced older adult couple at its center. If The Abyss was made now it’d have to star two 24 year olds.

    The reason the bill paxton character is still in the movie is because Cameron has admitted that the movie was basically an excuse to get Fox to pay for him to dive the wreck.

    But the thing that gets me about this movie every time and why it’s a fucking masterpiece is because of that single wordless coda shot – 80 perecent of movies are aimed at the juvenile adolescent fantasies of teenage boys. Titanic dares to be one for 13 year old girls that admonishes that tragedy is something you live through and reason to go on to be a kickass suffragette, aviatrix, and silent screen actress. If I had a 13 year old daughter what other slice of epic cheese can I show her that has a female heroine that goes on to have a fucking LIFE? I don’t want my daughter anywhere near that Twilight shit, in which the central character is defined by her man.

  42. Old lady Rose had definitely seen The Road Warrior in her ship’s cabin just before the final scene of this film. I don’t remember the exact quote, since it was over a decade since I saw Titanic, but the final line was very close to the feral kid’s: “And Jack… He lives now… only in my memories.”

  43. I’m OK with Titanic except for one scene, which I consider one of the worst ever. The “let me show you a real party” bit. Yes, poverty is so much fun.

  44. I don’t believe I’ve seen Titanic since the late 90’s, but I do remember seeing it in theaters, it was one of the first times I saw a naked lady! my mom had to really resist the urge to cover my eyes (yes, my mom was really that prudish)

    anyway I’ve always admired though how the movie’s focus was the characters and the story, corny as it may be at least it was THERE ya know what I mean? all the special effects and whatnot was icing on the cake, not the main course like Transformers

  45. Man, Roger Ebert has given James Cameron what’s got to be the best compliment I can think of. In his review of Avatar he says:

    “There is still at least one man in Hollywood who knows how to spend $250 million, or was it $300 million, wisely.”

    Man, I’d put that quotation on the top of the poster, circle it, and have it couriered over to Michalel Bay’s office.

    There’s also a really funny interview with Cameron in Maxim this month, so if you see that issue at your dentist’s office or whatever, flip though and find it. I didn’t know Cameron lived next door to Britney Spears. Funny stuff.

    I actually hadn’t really been following Avatar at all and don’t know what it’s about. I saw one trailer in front of Inglourious Basterds and it didn’t really grab me, but I’ll definately see it and I expect to have a good time.

    I’ve never seen a 3D movie because it always seems to be either one of these creepy mo-cap things or some lame horror movie so I skip it. I wanted to see UP! in 3D, but it was switched to 2D by the time I got around to seeing it.

  46. Add me to the list of folks who didn’t see TITANIC. So instead I’ll just add a quick comment to the remarks upthread on manipulation:
    obviously films employ certain techniques that could be considered manipulative, but there are degrees of subtlety to the practice. There are moments that we describe as “earned” and others that seem false or forced or easy. There is a difference between being manipulated and being browbeaten.

  47. somebadideas — good point. Although most of the movie is about Kate’s infatuation with Leo, its not — like many romance movies– a case where he comes along and changes her. She was her own character already, and he comes along and is a better match for her than than anyone else in her life. And when he dies, she remains her own person too, living her own unique life (although we’re told that, not shown it, so perhaps it has less impact). As romance movies go (especially those made by men) She’s defnitely a more assertive and unique character than you mostly see. Maybe not exactly an badass, but at least she has her own personality. If that seems like damning with faint praise, well, it is, and probably more a comment on the general pathetic trend in Hollywood towards bland, objectified female roles.

  48. Wow, 46 responses, only 1 user mentions Avatar.. You guys are on the topic!)
    As for Titanic I can tell a miilion reasons why it should have been a disaster, a box office flop, but still it managed to make 4 billion dollars. Jesus.

  49. GAAHHH!! My mind has been shattered today by several concepts.

    1.) He went on to be Reed Richards in FF and FF2?… good lord… I actually feel worse for him, hearing this. (Billy Zane still probably got paid more. {g})

    2.) Titanic has basically same plot as Terminator?! Weirdly enough, I can see that.

    3.) Cameron lives next door to Britney.

    4.) Dentists offices might have copies of Maxim. (Remember to brush and floss! {cringe} Sorry…)

    5.) Studios forced Mel to tack on happy ending. (Based on studio track record so far for that story, I’d say Mel tacked it on when they weren’t looking… {g})

  50. Yeah, my least fave part was Billy Zane’s character as well. In fact, your review pretty much summarized exactly what I’ve thought about this film since I first saw it.

    This film joins “The Lord of the Rings 3” and “Ben Hur” as the joint biggest Oscar-winner of all time, narrowly pipping “Braveheart” and “Gladiator” to the post. Which I guess says a lot about the Oscars votors. They really really really like big historical epics. (To anybody who says “LOTR” is not a historical epic, I know a few hobbits who would take issue with that remark.) The weird thing is that all of those films occupy the middle ground between excrutiatingly bad and electrifyingly good that Vern has correctly classified as “ok”. (Well, “Ben Hur” is a little better than just “ok”. But what the heck.)

    I’d forgotten about Leo’s friend. Poor drowned bastard. On the other hand, it’s just possible that in seventy years’ time somebody came along and dropped a priceless work of jewellery on his grave. I’m sure that’d cheer him up.

    “Titanic” is one of those weird films, rather like “Lord of the Rings”, that seem to get excrutiatingly bad reviews and overwhelmingly positive ones in equal measure, when both probably strike a nice middle-ground. And ok, both films could’ve done with losing an hour (or in LOTR’s case half a decade) but they had good things going for them to balance out the bad things. I genuinely enjoyed “Titanic” when it first came out, although some of the larger criticisms levelled at it do kinda make sense. Nowadays it not only stands on its own merits, such as they are, but IMO has a kind of camp-retro charm, what with the hilariously bad accents (“OICEBERG DEED AHEED!” still gets me chuckling every time) that probably wouldn’t pass muster in a film made nowadays. I wouldn’t say I “enjoyed” LOTR as much, because it’s a very good three-hour epic that’s been packed and slow-mo’d into a snore-inducing ten and a half hours. But I acknowledge its brilliance at some points – the Gollum scenes for example.

  51. “I wouldn’t say I “enjoyed” LOTR as much, because it’s a very good three-hour epic that’s been packed and slow-mo’d into a snore-inducing ten and a half hours.”

    How could u possibly condense those books down to a 3 hour movie? You would have to cut out everything besides Sam and Frodo’s story. And then we wouldn’t get nearly as much Viggo.

  52. I actually like to think of the entire extended trilogy as a miniseries rather than a movie. It plays much better if you try to watch it in 90 minute chunks.

    Or I guess you could think of it as an entire season of British television and watch it 43 minutes at a time.

  53. “…what with the hilariously bad accents (”OICEBERG DEED AHEED!” still gets me chuckling every time) that probably wouldn’t pass muster in a film made nowadays.”

    You really think that movie accents have improved appreciably in the last decade or so? That’s an odd theory.

  54. Frankbooth – yeah, maybe. But look at it this way – have we had anything close to as bad an accent as Natalie Portman’s in “V for Vendetta”, Kevin Costner’s in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”, or Dick van Dyck’s cockney in “Mary Poppins” in a film made in the last five years or so? I can’t think of one offhand. (Although I’m sure you guys will come up with something good.)

  55. Dieselboy – so much of that film was just big wide shots of the New Zealand countryside that really added nothing to the story or characters, hence my “slo-mo” comment. You could’ve lost all of that, as well as the majority of the “Helm’s Deep” sequence, and it really wouldn’t have detracted from the films at all.

    Eh, I could write a small essay on what “worked” in those films and what didn’t, but my point still stands. The odd thing about the LOTR films is that they got pretty much universally negative reviews over here in the UK, but overwhelmingly positive ones in the US (at least from the websites that I’ve seen – plainly I can’t say what the print media had to say about the film in the US because I don’t live there). The comparison with “Titanic” is that so many people have seen these films that between them, they’ve probably had just about every reaction it’s possible to have; and because the only people who make their feelings known are those with particularly strong ones, what you tend to see on forums and in the media is a stream of opinions that are either overwhelmingly positive or negative. There’s not much middle ground because those of us in the middle (who are probably in the majority) don’t generally speak up about it.

  56. Jam wins the sequel name contest with TWOTANIC. Awesome. You could make it a German boat and call it TWOTONIC.

    My best friend’s review of TITANIC: “Zzzzzzz Boobs!!! Zzzzzz The boat sinks! Zzzzz.” I kind of agree, with a little bit of “Whoah that set looks just like the Titanic, can’t wait until they sink it!” And they sink it damn good. Just like everybody else, my most vivid memory is that poor guy who got a 100 foot propellor right in the tooth.

    Interesting comparison to CASABLANCA (also TERMINATOR) though that movie gave us one of the top last lines of any movie ever, where I think the last line of TITANIC was “JACK!” or maybe “ROSE!” or maybe both at once.

  57. Actually Ewan McGregor’s “American” accent in MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS was up there with Natalie’s “V FOR VENDETTA” attempt, and possibly an active retaliation for it. If you count TV, Eddie Izzard (much as I love him) has a pretty wild idea of an American accent in “The Riches” as well. Sean Bean and Casey Elwes top off the revenge of the British actors for years of awful American attempts at British accents. But if you’re looking for the one movie that may be the king of all inexlicable accents, it would have to be Stone’s ALEXANDER, where everyone seems to be trying a different accent, but not their own.

  58. Ahhh I will have to check out “Men who stare at Goats” for the accent as well then. It’s only just been released over here but it’s had some pretty good reviews from just about everyone.

  59. Am I the only one who thinks Billy Zane is the coolest thing in this movie? Or have I missed something? I mean the guy isn’t satan’s seed evil, come on, he’s just cunning and a motherfucker. And that’s not really evil, now is it? The second best thing is that Leonardo lies on a bench smoking roll-ups while looking on the stars. How many times haven’t we done that? Only not on Titanic though..

    I like it.

  60. actually, i was thinking the sequel name should be TI2NIC: PoCNO. too late to enter?

  61. You know, I still have a lot of respect for this movie and usually watch at least a few minutes whenever it’s on TBS or TNT, which seems to be pretty much every holiday and / or whenever they have 3 hours of so of programming to fill.

    Yes, it’s corny as all hell and the characters are paper-thin and some of the dialog sounds like a guitar with broken strings. But the scale of it, the ambition, the craftsmanship, and the overall tragic weight of the story bring it off in the end. Some of the effects may not have held up that well, but we’d never seen anything like it at the time.

    Maybe it’s because I’ve been fascinated with the Titanic story since I was a kid, I don’t know. But overall the movie worked for me, even with its obvious and well-documented debits.

    The worst part to me is when Leo spends basically the last hour shouting “Wose!” over and over again. “Wose! Wose!” I hate that, and I like Leo as an actor. Overall I think he and Kate Winslet do pretty well with what is a very trite script character-wise.

  62. Hey I just saw AVATAR and even though the story was pretty unoriginal at times, the pure spectacle of it all is just so damn impressive you can’t help but watch it without a big shitty smile on your face. The effects, the 3-D, the scope and the scale are unlike anything that has come before, and sets the bar for the future ridiculously high.

  63. *sigh* Why do I have a feeling I’m going to be the only one who hated Avatar here?? I guess I better get the old flame-retardant suit out of the closet.

  64. I loved Avatar, even though it’s not perfect. For about the first hour or so the movie is like some weird/awesome melding of George Lucas and Werner Herzog (which might also be a good description of Cameron as a person) but then, gradually, it becomes the biggest, most expensive episode of Captain Planet ever made.

    I still liked it, but, it’s no “Princess Mononoke”.

  65. The boob in the PG-13 movie thing…

    If you remember back to when the movie came out a lot of people found out about the boob thing ahead of time because it was being reported in various magazines and on ET etc. The way they got away with it is the context. Apparently boobs aren’t always sexual and Cameron made the case that their context in Titanic was “artistic” and not sexual. Also, he’s James Cameron and he probably just told the stupid MPAA to give it a PG-13 or else.

    This was a rare occurrence. It was not a time when boobs just showed up in PG-13 movies, that was the 70s and 80s and the rating was PG (see, “The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane” with Jodie Foster (creepy, Jodie Foster was under 18 at the time her character was naked [and her character was only like 15], extra creepy, her SISTER is the body double for the naked scene).

    Anyway. I think the other part of Titanic’s success was more or less attributed at the time to Harry and AICN because of early positive reviews by AICN spies that counteracted the reports from all the negative nancies out there. I definitely remember hearing that on some tv show or documentary.

  66. Coming soon: TITANIC 2


    And yes, its The Asylum. God bless them.

  67. James Cameron’s most badass movie is heading back to theaters for one week:

    We’re this much closer to getting a 4K restoration of PIRAHNA II: THE SPAWNING…

  68. Well the unfunny joke would have been funnier if the linked worked. For one week TITANIC will be playing in AMC’s obnoxiously loud Dolby Theaters starting December 1.

  69. RIP David Warner. The press will write about TITANIC, PLANET OF THE APES and TRON, while we will remember CROSS OF IRON, THE OMEN and STRAW DOGS.

  70. I mean I’ll say that’s what I remember to look cool, but honestly it will be SECRET OF THE OOZE (Also THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMAN’S APOCALYPSE and, yes, TRON).

    At any rate regardless of my cred factor here R.I.P.

  71. FREAKAZOID, motherfuckers! Seriously, that guy had an extremely cool voice and hearing him say all those ridiculous things with the dignity of a British Shakespeare actor, made it only funnier.

  72. Gotta give it to Warner, the guy seemed to always put his full gravitas into whatever project he was doing, no matter how silly. Dude was always in on the joke and willing to play it as it lay.

    Just saw him in Horatio Hornblower, where he plays a paranoid Captain Bligh type–man really nailed the character’s combination of pathetic pathos from mental illness and villainy from his sheer bloody-mindedness.

  73. Yup, I came here to boost FREAKAZOID too, and I’m not even that impressed by a British accent. Even my kids have them.

    In Peckinpah movies, I’d want to mention his performance in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE as my favourite, even if it’s not the best Peckinpah movie he’s in.

    But what I thought of first on hearing the news was his Evil in TIME BANDITS: “Dear Benson, you are so mercifully free of the ravages of intelligence.”

    Was it Warner who told the story about boarding a plane and seeing Kris Kristofferson already seated, and their eyes met and they shared a moment of uspoken Peckinpah brotherhood?

  74. MORGAN: A SUITABLE CASE FOR TREATMENT, CROSS OF IRON and the TV mini series CHARLIE got me hooked on Warner for life.

    The anecdote about Warner and Kristofferson could be true. They both did three movies with Peckinpah, and I bet they had some stories to tell.

  75. I dunno why, but it pisses me off that Warner was *only* 80. The guy shoulda had 15, 20 more years at least!

    Anyway, for me it was WAXWORK and TIME AFTER TIME for starters. And he was one of the more memorable villains in one episode of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. And the main bad guy on that show was Billy freakin’ Drago, so that’s saying something!

  76. Well, I’m glad my “no crying during Titanic” streak is still intact after catching it in 4DX. This is easily the most I’ve ever liked the movie, with a subtle but pristine 3D/4K transfer and some out-of-this-world 4DX gimmicks tastefully thrown in. (Getting mist splashed in your face and your seat tilting and jostling non-stop sounds like a nightmare, but it made the second half a pretty incredible experience). And yeah, while I liked it more this time, it still hasn’t moved up in my ranking of Cameron’s films, and I think I can finally put my finger on why I’ve never wholeheartedly loved this movie the way I do Cameron’s best.

    Basically this viewing now brings me to understand the complaint women have against the “Manic Pixie Dreamgirl” trope, which I must admit I myself find charming. Because there’s no denying that Jack is your typical Manic Pixie Dreamguy, and Rose is basically a one-dimensional stick-in-the-mud character with no real likable or relatable characteristics (to me). We get why she falls for Jack and his lifestyle, but Cameron puts no real thought into what the hell Jack sees in her (besides that she’s as beautiful as Kate Winslet and needs saving). I hope I’m not a rube and need something obvious like a scene where Rose saves a kid or an animal or some basic bullshit to get me emotionally invested in her, but if you compare this to Dirty Dancing (the all-time champion of these types of movies), there’s no comparison. Baby is generous and likable, sticks her neck out for people she barely knows, and constantly tries to do the right thing at her own expense. She has a contentious relationship with Johnny but grows to become his equal through glorious training montages. Rose’s “likable” character traits are that she’s….rude and mean to even ruder and meaner rich people? She cheats on her asshole fiancée then spits Chekov’s loogie in his face? She yells at crew members and servants to risk their life and limb for her, then punches them in the face? Cameron throws in multiple scenes where she has to make a BIG CHOICE, as if he’s pre-emptively shutting down future complaints about her not having “AGENCY”, but pretty much everything she does is ultimately self-serving. (I didn’t remember that the romantic drawing scene isn’t really that romantic since she literally uses the picture as a “fuck you” prop to her fiancée!) I really don’t get what’s going on with this character, made even worse by the fact that this is the man who gave us Sarah Connor and Ripley! Two extremely hard-headed and flawed characters that we probably wouldn’t want to be friends with in real life, but damnit if they’re not all-time great movie characters. By definition of being in a love story, we kinda need to fall in love with (or at least LIKE) Rose, and Cameron never gets around to explaining why we should.

    Hot take: nobody’s exactly “bad’ in this movie, but man I wish the acting was like, 15% better. Kate and Leo are fine, but they kinda need to be next-level and have next-level chemistry, which just isn’t there. They’ve both been better in dozens of movies since. I’m sure being young and inexperienced and headlining the most expensive movie of all time didn’t help their nerves. Then again, maybe it’s Cameron’s writing that sets up impossible roadblocks for these performances. I don’t know if even Daniel Day-Lewis could have salvaged playing a role like Cal Hockley unscathed. I mean, Zane gonna Zane and he’s “iconic” here, but man, what a ridiculous character. Maybe I’m getting older but the only two performances that leapt off the screen this time were Frances Fisher and David Warner, which is something I never thought I’d say.

    Also: I’ve always thought the “she shoulda given the necklace to charity!” complaint was as eye-rolling as the “Captain America shoulda stopped 9/11!” complaint. But man, with this movie’s preoccupation with the classism / “rich people = bad, poor people = good” theme, it just seems weirdly tone-deaf and unsatisfying that old Rose does what she does. But at least it’s on brand for her character!

  77. I missed the 4DX showings before Ant Man took over the theater. Did it shoot the air gun in your face when he did “king of the world?”

    I really like the format. When real care is taken it can really complement the film and they can be clever with the effects. Some movies are too slapdash and I wish they’d eliminate the back puncher but you never know until you see the film.

  78. Fred – our 4DX theater has giant fans in the aisles that would blow steady streams of air instead of using an air gun. It’s kinda awesome but also weird b/c you can hear them revving up a few seconds before the scene in question, so if you haven’t seen the movie before, you’d probably be like “well I guess something big’s about to happen!” I guess we’re lucky that we’ve never had the back puncher in our theater, just the air gun to the back of the neck and the ankles. Unfortunately our one 4DX theater here is a Regal one set to close in the upcoming future – it’s definitely not a format for everyone, but it was alot of fun while it lasted!

  79. So did they blow for King of the World?

    I’ve heard a lot of those Regals are staying open so fingers crossed.

  80. I still haven’t done 4DX. I wish I had gone for this. Mine is also a Regal that was announced for closing but it’s now being reported that it won’t close. So far this is coming from the employees and not a corporate announcement, though, so I worry somebody could be lying to them.

  81. Fred – I’m like, 90% sure the fans were blowing for King of the World, in fact I’m pretty sure they had a subtle light breeze everytime they were out on the top deck. The main thing I definitely remember was that strobe lights went off in the theater when Billy Zane was shooting at them – I’m pretty sure they didn’t do that for Top Gun: Maverick or Avatar, since I guess those movies have way more gunfire and that’d get annoying real quick.

    Vern – yeah, hopefully they won’t close like mine! Hopefully our theater can be sold to someone who’ll keep showing 4DX movies, or at least re-release old 4DX movies because it’d be a waste to junk all that technology. Speaking of which, here’s a list of all the 4DX movies (strangely missing Avatar 1). What I would have given to see Mortal Engines, Noah(?!?) or Step Up 5 in that format!

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