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Titanic is a film that needs no introduction. Until the 2009 release of Avatar, which was also directed by James Cameron, Titanic stood firmly as the highest-grossing film of all-time. The film was an international hit and won 11 Oscars at the Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, and more. Whether you love, hate, or tolerate the film, you can't deny the huge impact the film has had on the film industry since its original release in 1997. I'm not a big fan of James Cameron myself, as I've found him to be emotionally manipulative in his later works, but even I'll admit there's some good to be found in Titanic.

The film follows two people from completely different social classes, Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater, who fall in love aboard the ill-fated maiden voyage of the Titanic. There's a catch, however, as Rose is already engaged to the wealthy Caledon Hackley - the heir to a steel fortune in Pittsburgh and the only hope for Rose's family to regain its former power and status. Jack, on the other hand, is a poor wanderer and his love is the only thing he has to offer Rose. The film follows the affair, the voyage of the Titanic, the ship's eventual destruction, and the recollection of these events by a 101-year-old Rose.

Visually, this film is a masterpiece. Created during the days when CGI wasn't considered necessary for a great film, Titanic has truly superb and breathtaking cinematography. Despite some use of CGI, the film looks incredibly real and the camerawork is simply splendid with its wide shots, aerial views, and underwater recording. This is a film with truly spectacular cinematography, as evidenced by the hard work, polish, and seemingly perfect use of lenses and hi-def cameras. I may not have loved this film but the cinematography was just fantastic. The set-pieces, art design, and costumes are all great as well. I don't usually comment on these areas of a film, but the style and finesse of this film is to be highly commended. It shows that, despite the films of the era, the 1940's were just as full of color and life as today.

That said, the scripting and characters are quite poor. For a film that claims to be a throwback to the old Hollywood romances (see Casablanca or It Happened One Night), the film doesn't care much for its characters. The leading characters, Jack and Rose, are given a bit of depth but that's not saying much. We do get to know them, slightly, but not on a personal or emotional level. Jack's a typical vagabond and Rose's a typical depressed rich girl - these are archetypes and make our leading characters feel more like cartoons than actual people. For instance, I don't see how a person could completely leave their life behind for someone they met a week ago. It's the stuff of cheap romance novels. The supporting cast is even worse as nobody seems to have a complete or developed personality in this film except for Jack and Rose. Caledon, for example, only serves to play the role of an elitist and uncaring jerk. Does he have any other personality traits besides this? Well, unless you count good hair as a personality trait, not really. Everyone else in the film - from the snobs to the clergy - has the depth of a sheet of paper.

As for the scripting, all of the dialogue just feels artificial. Someone might write this down, yes, but it doesn't feel like something that people would actually say. Some of it's only meant for expositional purposes as well, serving to make useless characters feel even more useless. Character interaction just feels clunky and unrealistic, and that's probably my biggest complaint of the film. Speaking of the script, though, there are some annoying tidbits mentioned several times throughout the screenplay that are sorry excuses for honorable mentions. In other words, several famous people and events are mentioned in this film and the writer obviously thought these passing references were clever. They're not - they're cheap and make for awful foreshadowing.

However, I'll admit that the film had a very nice structure and pace. For a film that was a little over three hours, the film never seemed to drag or become boring despite its flaws. The script knows how to deal with a good plot and how to keep people interested. Somehow, the film succeeded in this aspect. despite poor characters, the plot and pacing of this film are interesting and captivating enough to keep the film from ever getting boring. It can drag in spots, especially during the last hour, but it's otherwise entertaining.

Also, despite the weak characters and script, there is some good acting present in the film. The big star of this film, however, definitely isn't Leonardo DiCaprio. I'm usually a fan of his work, but sometimes he really hammed things up and got too over-the-top for my tastes. The "I'm the king of the world!" line would be, by far, the best example of this corniness. Instead, I think Kate Winslet was the true star of this film. She's a superb actress and gave a great delivery for a script that was otherwise below average.

All in all, Titanic is a decent film. Though it's a visual masterpiece featuring a nice structure and good acting, the film feels hollow in terms of character and scripting. Like the wreckage of the actual Titanic, the film's beautiful on the outside but only fleeting glimpses of emotion can be seen in the film's heart.



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AurelieThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Sept. 16, 2011 at 2:03 am:
You really captured the essence and development of the film as well as what really matters- character development. I really like your reviews!
 
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