A cautionary tale about being with a guy who can’t judge the size and buoyancy of doors.
THE GOOD STUFF
The Titanic sinking– Let’s just get the easy stuff out of the way. From the moment the crew of the Titanic get together to assess the damage from the iceberg (and realize that they have less than an hour basically before the entire ship goes to the bottom of the ocean) until the end of the scene with ROSE NOT MAKING ROOM FOR JACK…remains pretty wonderful stuff. For those of you who don’t know, this was probably the greatest use of practical effects in the history of ever up until that point. It holds up. James Cameron has always known how to do spectacle very well.
Kate f****** Winslet– More often than not, when it comes to sports, you’ll come across a singular game where an athlete will become a superstar because of a spectacular play, or usually because of a game played in a very extraordinary way. Kate Winslet had already been nominated for an Oscar for Sense and sensibility in the supporting actress category two years before the release of Titanic, but sometimes getting nominated for an Oscar when you’re young doesn’t boost you to superstardom.
But this s*** here? She was absolute magic in this here. It’s pretty astonishing how much credit goes to DiCaprio for being the anchor of this film (sorry for the pun), but you gotta be crazy to look at this film with fresh eyes all these years later and not see Winslet killing it scene after scene. The really famous cheesy romantic moments of this movie are only famous and memorable because of things that SHE does or says.
Considering the best actress Oscar category of 1997, it is kind of insane that Winslet didn’t get the win for this film.
This Billy Zane performance– There is quite simply not enough acknowledgment given to a 1990’s type movie villain. Sure, there was Keyser Soze and Hannibal Lecter and Agent Smith, villains that were charismatic as hell, fun to watch, had kind of a point in why they did the things that they did and laid the foundation for movie villains that would come in the decades to follow. But we’re not talking about them.
We’re talking about needlessly handsome, wildly sneering, evil as f*** for no reason, punchable face-having, douchebag rat bastards that you just hated from minute one for all of the right reasons. Alan Rickman in prince of thieves, John Lithgow in cliffhanger, Robert de Niro in Cape fear, John Travolta in broken arrow….. And yes, Billy f****** Zane in this movie.
A character so submerged in douchebaggery that even when he is told the ship is currently sinking to the bottom of the Atlantic and has multiple different opportunities to escape, he goes back once to steal a diamond, and then he goes back again to try and kill Jack when he really doesn’t have to.
Jack himself is low-key trash (we’ll get to that in a second), but Billy Zane in this movie is trash of the highest key and makes Jack more likable by default. Bless this man for this performance.
THE BAD STUFF
THE FIRST HOUR- I get the point of telling the story the way that they tell this story, but boy, oh boy, is that first hour a chore to get through. The way that the first hour is laid out, I would come to think that this was a 3-hour movie by design. You could cut half of this off. Back in the day, I remember there was this article saying that the best way to experience this movie was to come in when Jack meets Rose during her suicide attempt, and you’d have a better experience than if you sat through the absolute chore of that first hour. And I agree with that completely.
The dialogue– Even in the best parts of this film, the dialogue is too on the nose, and the characters are written as archetypes with only one kind of motivation in order to push the Jack and Rose story along. It’s amazing that it wasn’t heavily criticized for this at the time of its release.
The other Best Picture Oscar nominees of 1997 where la confidential (which won adapted screenplay), Good Will Hunting, (which won original screenplay), as good as it gets, and the full monty. Even though Titanic, of course, won Best Picture along with ten other Oscars that night, it was the only Best Picture nominee not to get nominated for its screenplay. There’s good reason for that.
THE UGLY STUFF
Jack dawson– Quite literally everything Jack does in this movie, outside of the heroic acts he commits in the final 45 minutes of this film (which does redeem him mostly) quite literally would put him in the d-bag category…. if he didn’t look like Leonardo DiCaprio.
Let me count the ways:
1. He bets all of his homie Fabrizio’s money in that poker game. And I don’t think for Fabrizio was anticipating that s*** whatsoever.
2. He sells himself to Rose on being a fan of art and an artist himself. Which he is. But never does he tell Rose exactly what kind of art he does until he fully gains her trust. And then he’s like… “Oh yeah, by the way, all of my art here? It’s of all of these naked females that I smashed when I was in Paris. Look at these”
Can you imagine a dude who doesn’t look like Leonardo DiCaprio pulling this s*** on a girl that he just met? Think about that, please.
3. He doesn’t have room to have sex with Rose where he sleeps, so he decorates someone else’s car with two roses because HE KNOWS HE’S GOING TO SLEEP WITH HER THERE. Rose saw that he had decorated the automobile in gave zero f**** about how or why.
4. Oh yeah, and there’s the fact that he tells her that he NEVER BELIEVED THAT SHE WAS EVER GOING TO JUMP. He says that more than once, I believe. He pulled up to a woman in emotional distress and…decided to shoot his shot right there and then.
This is always been seen as charming behavior. Romantic gestures. If this movie had starred Steve Buscemi instead of DiCaprio, would we be seeing it this way? Please think about that before you see this movie again.
Oh yes, and by the way… This is a very mid-tier DiCaprio performance. This isn’t even remotely close to the best stuff he’s ever done. Not even in the same stratosphere as films that he would do all but five years after this.
The legacy and the popularity of this movie have long been known and discussed ad nauseam over the last 25 years. I feel that, quite literally, most of the human population has seen this movie at some point in their lives.
But I gotta say, if you are a person that has never seen this movie before, and you’re thinking of buying a ticket to this re-release (and paying more to see it than almost anything that’s in theaters right now because of the surcharge of an absolutely garbage 3D conversion) then, by all means, DO NOT DO THIS. THIS IS NOT WORTH YOUR TIME.
Titanic, for the most part, is outdated. When you see it with fresh eyes after all of this time, sensible people will come to the realization that it is quite possibly the most overrated movie that has ever existed.
Titanic is in theaters now, has deluxe editions in every possible home video format, and can might be on two or three streaming services.