Fifteen years after Titanic smashed box office records and swept the Academy Awards with 11 wins, director James Cameron's blockbuster starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet is heading back to theaters — this time in 3D. Cameron, who has blasted other filmmakers for their shoddy attempts to convert 2D films to 3D, spent 60 weeks and $18 million trying to get the process right for Wednesday's release of Titanic 3D, timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the real-life disaster. The burning question: How many people have yet to see a movie that took in $1.8 billion during its first theatrical run and has become ubiquitous on cable movie channels? And for everyone else, is the new look worth the ticket price?
It's spectacular: The 3D conversion, executed with obvious care and a great deal of subtlety by Cameron, makes "a great film even greater," says Lou Lumenick at The New York Post. The mammoth ship looks all the more impressive, the exhilarating disaster scenes all the more "jaw-dropping," and the scene in which Jack rescues Kate from a suicide attempt becomes more "terrifying and intimately romantic" in 3D. The transformation "more than justifies another big-screen voyage."
"Watch: Titanic a must-see in 3D"
It's needless: Titanic 3D serves as the poster film for "how unnecessary such technological gimmicks are when you have a perfectly good original in the first place," says Ann Hornaday at The Washington Post. The 3D conversion doesn't look bad, but the added visual depth fails to enhance the film's "humanism and spectacle." Occasionally, the 3D "creates distance where there should be intimacy," or distractingly gives background extras a visual weight equal to the scene's main players. The 3D release only serves to remind us that this thrilling, bravura film "has had the right dimensions all along."
It changes the future of 3D: Films converted from 2D to 3D, with the promise that "immersive" effects will draw audiences into a scene the way "flat" images can't, have generally disappointed, says Peter Howell at The Toronto Star. Titanic 3D, however, "shows how the ambition can be realized if the will and skill are there." Every scene is sharper and brighter. Some shots, like the swirling camera pan on the grand staircase, are "now so intense as to almost induce vertigo." Finally, we're seeing the artistic value of a 3D conversion, which should inspire more filmmakers to follow in Cameron's footsteps.
"Titanic 3D review: The ship still sinks — but 3D finally floats"