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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Titanic

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet
Director: James Cameron
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 194 Minutes
Release Date: December 1997
Genres: Action, Romance, Drama

*Also starring: Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, Victor Garber

Review by Brian Koller
2 stars out of 4

"Titanic" has the highest box office gross of all time: over one billion dollars. It is also the most expensive film ever made, at two hundred million dollars. And it was one of the most successful films ever at the Academy Awards, winning eleven Oscars. So, what is wrong with this picture? Plenty.

Has a film ever before received fourteen Academy nominations without one for the screenplay? While direction, casting and cinematography are important, the key component of a film's quality is usually the script. The 'Titanic' script is burdened with lame and unlikely dialogue between the romantic leads (e.g. "I'll never let go") and loaded with one-dimensional characters.

While the 'Titanic' story lends itself to class conflict, this feature is over-emphasized. The 'rich' characters are either half-embalmed snobs or despicable jerks, excepting only gregarious hero Molly Brown (Kathy Bates) and spoiled, passionate love interest Rose (Kate Winslet).

The film begins with a current day Titanic salvage operation. For dramatic purposes, Rose (Gloria Stuart), now 101 years old, is brought on board the salvage ship. She tells her increasingly dubious story to the rapt crew.

Rose is pressured by her mother to wed abusive Cal (Billy Zane). Her friends are so shallow, and Cal such a jerk, that Rose is driven to tears and makes a suicide attempt. With 2200 passengers, you'd think that more than just Jack would be on deck to save her, and he doesn't look strong enough to pull her back onboard. Of course, they soon have a romance, which of course is disapproved of by Mom and the surprisingly jealous fiance.

The film is late in its second hour before the Titanic finally gets around to hitting the iceberg. "Titanic" then begins to lift scenes from the vastly superior "A Night to Remember" from 1958, mixing them in with long sequences of Rose and Jack repeatedly rescuing each other from deepening and near-freezing water.

The film ends with more silliness. Survivor Zane is unable to find Rose during the long voyage to America, despite Rose's mother being on board (conveniently, her character disappears during this time). Rose doesn't find the blue diamond in her coat pocket until she reaches New York! There is also a dream sequence which has Jack and Rose enter the Titanic's gigantic ballroom to incongruous massive applause from the well-to-do guests, who were so maligned for their shallowness in the film's first half.

Since director James Cameron is at his best during action scenes, "Titanic" can be entertaining at times. The story is dramatic, and the special effects are convincing. But given the dubious script, characters and events, "Titanic" may be the most over-praised film of our generation.

Copyright 1997 Brian Koller

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