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Titanic (Blu-ray Review)

Boy, does time fly when you’re reviewing anything and everything in between. It’s only been 15 years since Titanic opened in theaters to critical and box-office acclaim cementing  the careers of a certain director (not that it hadn’t already been cemented in place, but carte blanche would be given for every project thereafter) and a certain movie star. And here I am 15 years later reviewing the Titanic Blu-ray. We’ve all seen the parodies, the jokes, the film itself, over and over, but hindsight is 20/20, so how does Titanic stack up now? Will the Blu-ray sink or swim? That’s what we’re going to find out. 

Film 

I’m going to take on a more casual tone to this film portion of the review, because I’m sure 99.8% of the readers here have already seen Titanic – in theaters or on DVD. The film is 15 years old, but since it’s so ingrained in pop culture, it doesn’t feel as long.

Titanic is the simple story of Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio), a tramp, and Rose (Kate Winslet), a posh female who couldn’t be from more different backgrounds, but are destined to fall in love on the doomed ship. The year is 1912 and the Titanic is on its maiden voyage to New York from England. It was the biggest, strongest, and most luxurious ocean liner the world had ever seen up to that point. It was coined “unsinkable,” but that was just the hubris talking.

The film wastes no time in setting up the basic storyline. Bill Paxton is an ocean explorer and he’s searching for treasure that is believed to have sunk with the ship all those years ago. After finding a safe that does not contain what he is looking for he gets a phone call from someone claiming to be a survivor. It’s Rose (Gloria Stuart) as an elderly woman. She begins her story and we’re taken away in a flashback on her journey.

We see that Rose has already been promised to Cal Hockley (Billy Zane), a possessive and eccentric ego-maniac who sees Rose as more of an object than a human being. This depresses Rose so much that she contemplates jumping over one of the ship’s balconies into the icy waters below. Jack comes to the rescue and it’s all sunshine and rainbows thereafter.

Rose brings Jack into her world of rich snobbery and introduces him to those that thumb their noses down on the lower class. Yeah, it’s awkward, but Jack reverses it on her by introducing her to his mates. I guess Rose didn’t know that lower class folks really know how to party.  They spend some time together dancing and drinking all while Hockley’s man (David Warner) keeps an ever watchful eye on Rose and reports back to his boss.

Simple drama aside, the film is called Titanic for a reason, and that’s due to there being a ship in the film that will eventually sink. And it does, and it takes about half of the movie to do so. These are the more exciting aspects of the film. The love story was extremely tame then, and just comes of cheesy now. I’d actually say that the supporting cast does much better than Jack and Rose, and the action involving the sinking ship still holds up all these years later. I’ve only seen the film three times in my life. I saw it once on theaters, once in 2005 when the special DVD boxed set came out, and on now on Blu-ray.

James Cameron may be my favorite director of all time, but I would rank Titanic at the bottom of his filmography, because it’s his most accessible film aside from Avatar, yet Avatar has way more replay value than Titanic. Titanic is still a decent film and the special effects hold up really well, but the romance story is a bit shaky now. If you’re a true a fan of the work then you’ll obviously still enjoy it and the Blu-ray is the best way to do so. .

Video  

Titanic is presented in 1080p, 2.35:1 widescreen. James Cameron had his hands all over this Blu-ray and it shows. Titanic looks PHENOMENAL on Blu-ray! Flesh tones look natural and never flush, black levels are extremely deep and inky and do not crush. Contrast is kept in check and is never boosted, colors are rich and bold and do not band. Grain levels are consistent throughout the film. Edge enhancement is nowhere to be found, and I did not spot any instances of intrusive DNR. Seriously, Titanic on Blu-ray looks amazing!

Audio 

Titanic is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1. Once again, D-E-M-O is the word of the day. Dialogue is super clean, clear, and crisp. The center sound stage is clearly defined and handles most of the work flawlessly. Once the action starts, the rest of the channels come in to fill out the rest of the gaps. The LFE channel handles all of the low end with ease. It’s as if the ship becomes a giant roaring monster – but the subwoofer handles it in stride. The surround channels are also put to great use and are always lively and have some sort activity always going on. The lossless track on this Blu-ray really compliments the video presentation in every way.

Extras

Titanic comes fully loaded with all of the extras from the 2005 boxed DVD set (presented in HD, but some footage retains the full screen or pillar box look). We get all of the deleted scenes with optional audio commentary with James Cameron, tons of interviews and featurettes, video diaries, etc. I think what actually seals the deal on the supplements section is the new documentary called Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron. Cameron has brought together some of the world’s leading experts on the Titanic to put to rest how the ship really sank and to see if his film was accurate in depicting how it sank. It’s a very interesting and informative documentary (presented in HD and in 5.1 lossy) that does get heated in parts due to everyone involved being so passionate about the project. Another brand new special feature on this Blu-ray is a featurette called Reflections on Titanic, where cast and crew talk about the film all of these years later and the impact its had on their lives and career. It’s a fun featurette, but is missing DiCaprio – I don’t think he does press for Titanic anymore, though. The extras in this set are more than adequate.

  • Reflections on Titanic
  • Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron
  • 30 Deleted Scenes
  • 60 Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes

Summary

 Titanic still remains an average romp all these years later. The special effects and scope of the picture are what keep it above water (pardon the pun), and this Blu-ray is a great way to familiarize yourself with one of the most ambitious film projects of all time. The technical specifications are reference and the special features are extensive. I wouldn’t be surprised if this Blu-ray set makes a lot of top-10 lists at the end of the year. Whether you love or hate the film there is something for everyone.

 

 

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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