|Category||Drama||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.78:1, Non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0|
|Rating||Other Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - THX Trailer|
|Year Released||1997||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||187:22 minutes||Other Extras||Main Menu Animation
Main Menu Audio
|RSDL/Flipper||RSDL (104:00)||Cast & Crew|
Fox Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.30:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
|16x9 Enhancement||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In Or After Credits||No, thankfully|
For those of you who want a plot summary, here it goes: the story begins on the day when the Titanic is about to sail on its first voyage to a still-being-built America. Young Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) manages to win himself a boarding pass on the voyage to America in a game of cards, along with an Italian friend whose name escapes me. Normally, one would be very upset about losing these tickets, but I'll bet the losers in this game were very happy after they heard what happened to the ship. In any case, a young woman named Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslett) embarks on the Titanic with her mother, who wants her to marry a man she doesn't love named Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) in order to preserve the family's fortune. After meeting in somewhat hilarious (to my friends who saw the film with me on the first run) and insulting (to me) circumstances, Jack and Rose fall in love and spend the rest of the voyage to America avoiding people. Pardon me, James, but did you steal that idea from The Wings Of The Dove or Out To Sea? Predictable ending aside (although some very wise man at the studio suggested that they have Arnold Schwarzenegger appear to blow up the iceberg), this is three hours of story made by a man who has no idea how the human mind functions or how social interaction really works. And, as the vast majority of people who I've talked to about this film will tell you, atrocious acting coupled with staggeringly lame direction does not make for fun viewing. (The most common reaction when I stated to people that I was reviewing this film was "eww that damn show", which I think says it all, really.)
The funniest part of this film is the use of a specially-built underwater camera which Cameron used to film raw footage while poking around inside the remains of the actual Titanic. This necessitated the use of an extraneous storyline in which an elderly Rose (Gloria Stuart) tells her story to a treasure-hunting captain (Bill Paxton). If suspense were bullets, this film would not have given me enough to go and shoot myself in the head as I was hoping to be able to do halfway through my second viewing. The moral of that story? People who have high intellectual quotients and a lot of painful memories shouldn't see this film without first consuming a lot of mind-altering drugs. Oh, and that damned annoying song by Celine Dion. If there was ever a crime against humanity for which a man should be frozen in an ice cube, it's giving that talentless cow an excuse to torture us further. The real joke of this film is that without the "you must see this film and you must enjoy it" advertising campaign, Titanic would have been a lot more enjoyable, just like The Matrix.
The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.30:1, which is slightly different to the theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and this is a rather bad way to start from the beginning. What makes it even worse is that it is not 16x9 Enhanced, and the film suffers terribly for it. From looking at a Region 1 copy of this DVD and comparing them both to the experience of seeing the film in the theatre, it appears that the matting was opened up further on this version. The sharpness was by far the biggest letdown in this transfer, with background details being completely lost, especially in outdoor shots. Camera movements resulted in even more losses of image detail, and there appear to be losses of image detail as a result of scenes having their brightness level set too high. These losses of detail can be fairly and squarely blamed on the lack of 16x9 enhancement, just as is the case with the Region 4 version of The Thing. The detailed photography in the outdoor shots is one of the few pleasant things I remember about this film, so this sort of transfer is unacceptable.
Shadow detail was rather good, but there are a number of sequences that suffer from low-level noise, a problem which really shouldn't be apparent on DVD at all. The unnecessary present-day footage involving the exploration of the Titanic's rotting shell is definitely the worst offender in this regard. The colours were rather variably saturated, which some scenes being quite oversaturated and hard to look at, and other scenes being quite pale and undersaturated. This has nothing to do with the cinematography or any choice during the making of the film, and there was a lot more evenness about the saturation during the theatrical exhibit. What's even worse is the presence of chroma noise during the present-day exploration scenes, an artefact that should not appear on DVD unless it is sourced from a very old television series.
MPEG artefacts were absent from the presentation, which is the sole redeeming feature of the transfer. The transfer rate seems to wildly vary between five and eight Mb/s, with any shot shot in which the ocean is apparent in the background receiving a transfer rate of around nine Mb/s (the rate of ten Mb/s was used on occasion, too). This does little, however, to save the film from the problems introduced by the limited vertical resolution apparent in each and every image. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of variable amounts of aliasing that were a direct result of the non-enhanced transfer. The wide shots of the ship were the worst offenders in this regard, with shimmer being noted all over the place. Film artefacts were completely absent from the transfer, but this is hardly surprising when you consider the youth of the film and how much effort Fox would have expended upon its preservation. The absence of reel change markings in the film makes it slightly more watchable than the original theatrical exhibit, but only slightly.
This particular disc takes advantage of the RSDL format, as you'd expect. The layer change occurs at 104:00, between Chapters 17 and 18. This is just after the captain remarks to the ship's owner about the apparent results of his desire for headlines. The pause is noticeable, but relatively brief and unobtrusive.
The overall volume of this soundtrack is lacking, which appears to be the result of carelessness at a mastering level similar to the problems of this variety which sometimes occur with independently-produced audio CDs. Listening to this film at a slightly higher audio level than normal rectified the problem, but generally the soundtrack is plagued overall by a sense of the sound effects being mixed a little too softly. The dialogue was clear and intelligible most of the time, but there were moments when it fell in volume without rhyme or reason, usually during long-distance shots. There were other times when the audio lost its oomph and became somewhat thin, but these were sporadic and brief. There were no audio sync problems except when the ADR work slipped just a little.
The score music in this film was composed and conducted by James Horner, who I believe has worked with James Cameron before on some of his projects that actually approach being decent films. The score had a similarly disengaging and substance-deprived quality to the film itself, which served to highlight the rather cold and empty feeling that the film generally gives me. This can be explained to some degree by the fact that the score is event-based rather than character-based, an arrangement which would have suited the feel of the film much better. Thankfully, that damned awful song by Celine Dion was not to be heard at any point until the credits rolled. A certain twelve-minute epic by My DyING BRIDE would have suited this film much better, particularly in the way it ends. But then you wouldn't be able to sell a few million CDs full of crappy music to people who don't have any understanding of Wagnerian compositional techniques (much like you would have a hard time selling this DVD to people who understand how important 16x9 enhancement is, I guess). The saving grace of the score is the final song that the string foursome play as the water level in the ship finally begins to rise into the luxury decks, a piece that sets the mood of the on-screen action quite well.
The surround channels are used reasonably well by the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack to create an enveloping but subtle soundfield that gives the listener a sense of "being there", in spite of the aforementioned occasional variation in the level of the dialogue. By contrast, the Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack sounds a little conspicuous and off-putting. The subwoofer was used to augment the action sequences, as well as the music. Essentially, it made the groans and creaks in the soundtrack seem more real.
The video quality is average.
The audio quality is average.
The extras are limited and of poor quality.
|DVD||Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|