‘Titanic 3D’: Leo’s Still Swoonworthy, But is it Worth Watching Again?
by Ester Bloom and Adam Freelander
Ester Bloom: I’m so ready to talk about this movie!
Adam Freelander: Good morning!
Ester: Good morning.
Ester: I kept thinking about The Shining comparison — the hallways, the safe place that gets ominous and ends up trying to kill you (hotel / ship), the outside environment being just as dangerous (cold / COLD), the isolation and lack of help, the devouring liquid crashing through doors (blood / water), AND of course a guy named Jack who ends up freezing to death [NOTE: Hilarity here, via Facebook:]
Adam: Yes. Also Fabrizio is the bear.
Ester: I’m really curious whether the actor who played that ridiculous Italian stereotype was from St. Louis, Mo. Oh my god! Better than St. Louis, Mo.: Fabrizio was born in AUSTRIA.
Adam: Hahaha. Can we talk about Fabrizio’s arc for a sec? I actually think it ends up having some weight to it.
Ester: Sure! Go ahead.
Adam: Well, just the one part where Fabrizio takes the life jacket off his just-shot Irish counterpart. This shot is probably one second long? But I also never noticed it before and was like, “Holy shit that is daaaark.”
Ester: His hands are shaking while he’s doing it, too.
Adam: Yeah. And then the smokestack falls on him and he dies. But that one part before! is genuinely sad!
Ester: ADAM I think the whole last hour is genuinely sad!
Adam: In a movie where, as we discussed last night, very little of the mass death and carnage actually makes you sad.
Ester: No, that’s a good point. We’ve gotten to know these cartoons — the Italian stereotype, the Irish stereotype — and then we watch them both die. Which reminds me, where are the Jews on this ship? No Jews on Titanic?
Ester: Ooh, there were more: “The fact is that there were enough Jews on the Titanic that kosher meals were available, and the crew included a chef, known as the ‘Hebrew chef,’ to prepare them.”
Adam: Here’s what I heard: All the Jews that were SUPPOSED to go on the Titanic got an email telling them not to go to work that day.
Adam: What happened to passenger Freud, I would like to know.
Ester: Me too! That’s another really dumb scene.
Adam: Is this where we segue into all the scenes of people not knowing as much about the future as we do?
Ester: Yes. I liked your point about how the first act is essentially Midnight in Paris: Nostalgia plus romance plus that feeling that we, the audience, are smarter than the characters, because we get all the references and know what’s going to happen.
Adam: Except there’s no Owen Wilson as our stand-in, so it’s just dumb characters not GETTING IT. What this movie COULD have used is an Owen Wilson character. “I love Freud!!!”
Ester: Right! I guess our Owen Wilson is kind of Kate Winslet — there’s no reason she should be so well-read and aware and art-appreciate-y, except to function as our audience stand-in.
Adam: Right, exactly. It’s totally insane that a teenage (?) girl in 1912 just has perfect historical taste.
Ester: Right! Shouldn’t she be reading the Twilight of 1912? It’s also totally insane that James Cameron managed to create, in Jack, the perfect teenage girl fantasy. He’s like the centerfold from Non-Threatening Boy magazine. So beautiful, so good, so into her and in touch with his emotions and able to communicate …
Adam: To be fair I think we owe Leo some credit here
Ester: True! He manages to be smoldering and wholesome all at once. Rose is the sexual instigator, too, did you notice? She’s the one who wants to pose naked, and she’s the one who pulls him into the backseat for The Sex.
Adam: I did notice that. I wonder if passenger Freud would connect that to the axe-and-handcuffs business at all … does she purposely leave the drawing in the safe so Billy Zane will see it? I kind of got the vibe that she did, and I liked that.
Ester: Oh yeah. She writes on the picture, “Now you can keep us both in your safe.” Also, did you catch that she has totally done it with Billy Zane?
Adam: NICE! No.
Ester: I don’t think I realized it when I was 15, but he says, “You didn’t come to me last night,” and then he says, “You are my wife in everything but law” i.e., WE ARE MAKING WHOOPIE. I thought it was a pretty strong hint, at least. And that would explain why she didn’t stain the upholstery when she did it with Leo in the car.
Adam: Hahaha. Yes, Ester, that WOULD explain that.
Ester: Oh, don’t tell me you didn’t wonder.
Adam: I can pretty honestly tell you I didn’t wonder. It is magical sex with a magical man, even if it was her first time it’d be fine I’m sure.
Ester: That’s a very good point. Oh man, he’s so magical. I was totally my swoony, 15-year-old self all over again. He’s worth eleventy-trillion dollars or whatever this movie cost to make.
Adam: Is this his definitive performance?
Ester: He wasn’t nominated for Titanic, I remember, because some critic groused that that was like not nominating Clark Gable for GWTW.
Adam: Right, it was the Famous Snub of the year. “Leo Snubbed.” 1998: The year I looked up “snub.”
Ester: Well, millions of girls all over the world would have been glad to comfort him. ALL RIGHT, so bottom line: How much would you pay to see this movie? How much was it worth?
Adam: Okay. So the first thing is, the 3D is bullshit.
Adam: I don’t know if I needed to see the movie to be able to report that. But it is.
Ester: It was really silly, especially if, like me, you happen to wear glasses into the theater, and then you have to wear TWO pairs of glasses for three hours.
Adam: 3D glasses feel silly even for non-glasses-wearers. A silliness enhanced both by the fact that this movie is a DRAMA, and by the mostly empty theater. Are they even showing it anywhere in 2D? When 3D movies come out I think they usually show two versions. But this is a rerelease, it might be different. It seems the answer is no.
Ester: Yeah, I think the excuse for re-releasing the movie was to do it in 3D. Well, that and the anniversary of the disaster (which was on April 15, 1912).
Adam: Ah right. At the wedding I was at last weekend, someone noted that anniversary in their toast. A very appropriate thing to say. So back to the pricing criteria.
Ester: I think Titanic gets penalized for making us pay a premium to wear funny glasses for no extra benefit at all.
Adam: Absolutely, yes.
Ester: Also for being at least 45 minutes too long.
Adam: And crucially, it is a movie that literally everyone has already seen. It’s not like re-releasing Gone with the Wind for a new generation.
Ester: But it’s nice to see it on a big screen.
Adam: Yes. I think there are a lot of shots whose point is, “scale!”
Ester: Yeah, yeah, okay, but some movies are made for that theatrical experience and it was worth paying something (I haven’t quantified exactly what yet) to get that again.
Adam: True. If you see this movie in the theater, you will definitely get the idea that the Titanic was big. Quick side note: Was the Titanic actually any bigger than the average cruise ship of today?
Ester: I don’t know! let’s ask Dr. Google. Here you go.
Adam: Haha, titanic-titanic.com
Ester: It’s hard to tell by sight since ships don’t have smokestacks anymore. I guess after that one smokestack killed our friend Fabrizio, ship makers learned their lesson. But Titanic had FOUR, and the ship that took forever rescuing people only had one.
Adam: Yes, Fabrizio turned out to be quite an influential figure in ship engineering. So by the stats, it seems like Titanic was about the size of a normal modern cruise ship which makes me a little annoyed that James Cameron took so much of our time trying to convey the fact that this thing was HUGE.
Ester: Okay, but, it was HUGE for the time. I got kind of annoyed at the end when Victor Garber was like, “It’s made from iron. I assure you it can [sink]”. Where was he in the first hour of the movie when people were tempting fate right and left?
Adam: Oh yes this is something you audibly were not on board for while we were watching.
Ester: Did I laugh?
Adam: The movie clearly sets up the mustachioed guy as the man responsible for MAKING Victor Garber and the captain sink the ship. But you were not having it. I think you said, “What about you??? You’re the captain!!”
Ester: Well, yeah! Stupid mustache guy and his peer pressure. Other people still have agency, like, you know, the guy driving the ship. Stupid mustache guy is the only one that survives though. And, really, there was only ONE pair of binoculars on the whole ship? It got lost and there was nothing anyone could do?
Adam: “We lost the binoculars in Southampton,” is very hilarious.
Ester: And it’s such an aside. I don’t remember ever noticing that line before this viewing.
Adam: Like, James Cameron, you did not have to mention the binoculars. No one was wondering. We all know the Titanic sank, no one is going to find it unbelievable.
Ester: Actually, it’s pretty funny how easy it is, after all that. One little collision with the equivalent of a parked car.
Adam: I do really like the scene when they hit it: And they’re trying to throw the ship in reverse and turn and for an eerie second it seems like they might miss it?
Ester: OR hit it head on. That would give you the kablooey you were looking for.
Adam: I just think the scene has good tension. It actually works the way it should and sort of grabbed me. Like, James Cameron CAN direct a good scene. If it doesn’t have a lot of words in it.
Ester: Yes, absolutely! We agree that the wordless, or near wordless, action scenes are the best in the film. The same is often true of The Shining, by the way.
Ester: Including that one. I do love that, with a whole luxury ship at their disposal, they do it in the backseat of a car. Very American.
Ester: Back to the question at hand! How much do you think a ticket to this film was worth? We paid $12 or $13 for each ticket.
Adam: Did we? Even with 3D?
Ester: Yeah! God bless Cobble Hill Cinemas. I’d say it was worth $8 — $10.
Ester: What’s your rationale?
Adam: Well, the 3D adds nothing so it’s not worth the extra 2–3 bucks.
Adam: And I think that the movie has a decent creamy center surrounded by crap. So divide by 2.
Ester: Ha! Okay. Well, I don’t think any movie ticket should cost more than $10.
Adam: Maybe add a dollar for that amazing metaphor I just made. But no, $5. Also I have to be honest, the insensitivity of the mass death scenes hit me pretty hard
Ester: Is it just that you’ve been DEsensitized to mass death scenes?
Adam: No! I think I got REsensitized on 9/11.
Ester: And haven’t been DEsensitized again since then?? I’m skeptical.
Adam: And again on the 10th anniversary.
Ester: Don’t you watch war movies? Game of Thrones?
Adam: Well, compare this to Saving Private Ryan. Saving Private Ryan is in some ways a problematic movie, but that first 45 minutes is still ROUGH. That is a good standard for mass death I think. Just compared to this, and the dude falling off the back of the ship, and hitting the propeller like “doink.”
Ester: Yeah. Hard to tell, though, to what degree Cameron is indulging his inner 13-year-old. I found all the deaths pretty horrifying when I first saw it, even though I was mostly invested in Jack and Rose, and their beautiful love, surviving.
Adam: Mmm. But you did say last night that the focus on the two of them really does keep us from adequately caring about the 1,500 dead people.
Ester: Yes, yes I did. And it’s true. The two fake, lovely people end up being the only two people we really care about. But the other deaths are still sad! Like the Irish mother with her two urchins.
Adam: Yes. But also what are they doing??????? They could have gotten on boats!!!
Ester: It seems like the 2nd and 3rd class women and children didn’t have an easy time getting to the boats. Remember she was stuck on the stairs with her kids behind the locked gate?
Adam: Ah. Right.
Ester: Would you pay more than $5 to see Titanic for the first time, or does the ticket price go down because this is a repeat viewing?
Adam: Oh, this is for a repeat viewing. For someone who hasn’t seen Titanic before, which is no one, let’s say $8.
Ester: Then we agree! Except I’d also say it’s worth it to pay $8 to see Titanic again if, like me, you go all goopy over Leo in this role and enjoyed the film the first time. Or, um, first few times.
Adam: For me I think the re-watching experience is tainted by the film’s association with 9th grade. This may or may not be emblematic of men my age.
Ester: Whereas with me, it’s kind of fun re-engaging with myself from half-my-life ago (I was 15 when I first saw the film and am almost 30 now). So, yeah. A lot will depend on your relationship with your teenage self.
CONSENSUS: You should pay between $5 and $8 out of $13 to see Titanic 3D, and as much as $10 if you’re a softy like Ester.
Adam Freelander was on a cruise with his family a few weeks after seeing Titanic when he kissed a girl for the first time! He was king of the world!!! Follow him @adamplease.