- Its insane popularity and overhyped, award-winning status
- The resentment that it will probably never be topped as box office champ by a more deserving movie
- The fact that I couldn’t get a girl to go out with me after 1997 unless I agreed to answer to the name Jack
This is definitely not my favorite James Cameron movie, nor his best, but it’s a great example of why he’s such an innovative and effective director. The large scale destruction is amazing, and coupled with the water and massive stuntwork makes the sinking ship sequence truly exhilarating and horrifying. Cameron’s use of digital effects—the green screen, digital face replacement, the winter breath, the CG stunt people, even the ship itself—is seamless and cleverly blended together. And as melodramatic and Celine Dion-inspiring as it may be, the love story at the heart of the movie works. It’s not subtle or without clichés, but you root for Winslet and DiCaprio to make it. That being said, I always had a minor problem with their ending; not the fact that Jack kicked the icy bucket, but the whole “never letting go” part. I know he was referring to her survival, but when Rose says, “I’ll never let go!” and then immediately lets Jack go to sink to the ocean depths, I laugh every time. (Which is arguably the worst moment in the movie to do so.)
The one thing potentially working against TITANIC is the length and the pacing. It’s an epic movie, no doubt, but it’s also an hour and 40 minutes until we even see an iceberg. And while I didn’t mind watching Leo and Kate get googly eyed over each other, their love story isn’t enough to keep me from wanting the ship to hurry up and sink. The unevenness of the excitement dampens the rewatchablility factor, but the drawn out running time does allow Cameron to milk every second of the tragic ending that he can. The string quartet, the old couple in the bed, the mother reading to her children, the minister reciting the Lord’s Prayer—the man uses every trick in the book to make sure your heart sinks as much as the ship. Emotionally manipulative? Yes. Effective? Yes, too.
Commentary by James Cameron: It’s always a pleasure hearing Cameron talk about film, and this is no exception. You get a good mix of technical explanation, historical knowledge and the man’s thoughts and the story and how it all came together.
Commentary by Kate Winslet, Gloria Stuart, Lewis Abernathy, Jon Landau, Rae Sanchini and other assorted cast and crew: Good: A lot of people pitch in here, so you get a variety of information and perspectives. Bad: Everyone is recorded separately, which makes it somewhat of a chore to listen to.
Historical Commentary by Dan Lunch and Ken Marschall: The two Titanic experts were used during filming to help maintain the movie’s accuracy. However, as commentators they’re not too dynamic and entertaining, so this is only recommended for those interested in the ship’s history or the time period.
Branching Mode: When activated, a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes will pop up during the movie. Most of them are pretty fascinating and highlight the various effects, from digital to miniatures to flawless green screen work. (These can also be watched separately from the Special Features menu.)
Alternate Ending (9:29): I never liked the ending with the older Rose throwing the diamond in to the ocean. (You’re breaking Bill Paxton’s heart!) This original ending addressed my concerns, but for pacing and length issues it works better the theatrical way.
Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On music video: Not that I particularly wanted to see this video for what is surely one of the most annoying songs ever made, but the video quality is shockingly poor, almost like something you’d stream on the internet.
Extra Tidbit: Legend has it that the leftover digital breath from TITANIC’s colder scenes was later used in FIGHT CLUB when the Narrator goes to his cave to meet his power animal.