Posted by: GregMo Roberts Source:Killer Reviews
Just the whisper of the words “3D Conversion” is enough to source massive groans of disapproval. Leading the charge of our condemnation were Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender. Both films were released in 2010 and both were converted to 3D as their respective studios opted to jump on the format bandwagon to inflate box office dollars. Critically, the films were maligned. And worse still, audiences flocked opening week-end only to leave the theatre with a distaste for the unnecessary and unworthy 3D effects.
We can all thank James Cameron for the failed effort. His release of Avatar in late 2009 in 3D set the stage. The film about a bunch of blue aliens was shot in 3D using new technology and now boasts the record of the biggest box office haul of any film – ever. Of course the simple minded studio heads would want to duplicate the magic. To find some coin left in the Cameron pot of gold. So they began the effort of reviewing existing post-production films and converting them to a third dimension. This is not the first time that Cameron revolutionized the film industry. The Terminator, its superior sequel and The Abyss all had impacts on the industry, but none greater than his 2009 opus. The year after Avatar, 17 separate films were either shot or converted into 3D. Some were good (Toy Story 3), some were terrible (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), but most were just pointless attempts at getting us to pay extra for a pair of glasses that we don’t even get to keep.
Yet for all the non-interest in 3D as of late (with a hat tip exception to Scorsese’s Hugo) when James Cameron announced that he was in the process of converting his 1997 romantic/disaster film Titanic into 3D, there was a genuine interest in the film going community. Internet chatter was that Cameron spent anywhere from $10 to $60 million to meticulously add the extra dimension with another $40 million used for advertising (don’t cry a river for him just yet, we think he can afford it). So the question that will persist off the lips of cynics and fans alike will be, “Is it worth it?”
The answer is simply, “Yes”. And although one film does not send new juices for the format pulsing through our veins, it does prove that in the right hands, a conversion can be done properly.
James Cameron has taken his time (over two years to convert) and produced a clear and potent picture that punctuates the screen in all three dimensions. The 3D is at its best when the ships is still without an encounter with a hidden iceberg. The dinner scenes, the sweeping shots through the fated halls, the scenes of the ship against the lit and darkened sky. The effects in the first third of the film will captivate and invigorate if not change your opinion on 3D itself.
By the time we get a character actor yell out “Iceberg! Right ahead!”, you will be so accustomed to being aboard the massive liner that you might look under your seat for a life jacket. And that’s when the 3D really begins to pop. Anyone who has experienced 3D knows that water, snow and rain are three elements that really convert well. And Titanic has no shortage of water. Scenes of the ships demise including the passengers hanging on for dear life while the liner goes vertical feel like they were always intended to be in 3D and Cameron has made sure that we get our monies worth without inserting additional scenes in any attempt at exploitation (you reading this Lucas?).
Thankfully, the new format does not distract for the films overall impact. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet again show us what character chemistry is all about and their love affair aboard the ship is as real and authentic as ever. The emotional ties with mother’s that hug their children or old couples that spoon on a bed as the water levels rise are also not diluted by the conversion. Everything is exactly as it was before, just better.
Cameron has again done the impossible. All 3D films have a dark hue to them that is only further enhanced by the annoying glasses. But Titanic 3D is bright and clear and for 3 hours and 16 minutes, we completely forgot we were wearing glasses over our glasses.
Unfortunately, the 3D format has enraged so many fans that movies like Hugo and Titanic might not be enough to show what can be done in competent hands. And if Scorsese and Cameron can’t change our rattled opinion, then no one can. Still, for those that want to go back to the maiden voyage of the British passenger linker that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912, you will not be disappointed.