By Jonathan Decker
Like Avatar, director James Cameron’s other box-office giant, Titanic was a pop-culture phenomenon that mixed technical precision with oversimplified characterizations, artistic grandeur with merely average storytelling. It’s a very good film towards which excessive backlash was directed because it was heralded as an exceptional one. Though the supporting characters are broadly written caricatures (with Billy Zane’s evil fiancé the worst offender) and the central rich/poor romance is derivative of Lady and the Tramp, Cinderella, and any number of Jane Austen stories, Kate Winslet (Finding Neverland, Sense and Sensibility) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception, Catch Me if You Can) have an undeniable chemistry. She gives a nicely conflicted performance and he is more youthful and carefree here than we’ve seen him since.
The attention to period detail is astounding, from the lavish recreation of the ship itself to the wardrobe. The visual effects mostly hold up all these years later. James Horner’s musical score is justified in its iconic status: it’s beautiful and sets the tone perfectly. The sound design is terrific. Of course, when it comes to the actual sinking of the ship (which occurs almost in real-time) Titanic becomes a true work of art, expertly balancing tragedy with majesty. Scenes of passengers preparing for imminent death have deep emotional resonance, and the spectacle doesn’t disappoint. The 3D here doesn’t add much to the experience, though unlike most 3D the picture thankfully here remains clear, vibrant, and sharp. For fans, this is well worth re-experiencing on the big screen.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: Titanic 3D is rated PG-13. It contains plenty of peril and disaster, with people drowing and freezing to death, falling off and down a ship, and being crushed (not graphic) by debris. It is unecessarily crass, with some language (including one f-word) and a raised middle finger. It also carries the implication of sex between its unmarried romantic leads as well as an extended scene of exposed female breasts during a sketching session. Parents should be warned.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: The love of riches can lead to arrogance and entitlement. True love is cherishing someone for who they are or want to be, not trying to change them into who you'd like them to be. Death may arrive at any time; we must always be prepared to face the end.
Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.