Titanic Real-Time Review – Television Review

Do we really need another of these? Mad Men, why did you have to go and win all those awards? And then you too, Downton Abbey? These days we can’t move for 50s midwives, 60s flight attendants and even time-travelling prison inmates from the past. So who wouldn’t want to go back for a two hundredth re-telling of the Titanic story in full period drama awesomeness?

After all, this year is the 100th anniversary of the tragedy so naturally every living soul on the planet now feels obliged to open their heart once more to the sad tale. All those lives lost when the unsinkable became sinkable, and all those dollars earned when sinkable became the profitable (you make up a better rhyme, then!) as James Cameron gets ready to earn another billion dollars when he re-releases his 1997 movie in time to celebrate all that tragic death once again (IN 3-D!!).

Of course, we Brits wouldn’t want Jim to have all the attention so to challenge him is hot property in America right now, Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, who has penned a new four-part miniseries about the legendary doomed voyage to air over the next four Sundays. (With the final episode airing on the night of the actual ship’s demise – grim.)

In turn, we here at Mild Concern don’t want to take such drama too seriously lest we succumb to actually enjoying one of these period shows that are all the rage right now, but just so that you know what you may (or may not be) missing out on I am here to take you through the show minute-by-minute (depending on how much it enthralls). I’ve got my measuring jug full of caviar (you’ve got to mix the posh with the poor to mirror the uniting of the inevitably contrasted characters in the show, obviously) and a watered down sherry on the rocks so let’s get this boat on the road… or sea, whichever, really.

Reviewing begins after the jump.

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Titanic 3D – Trailer & Pics

Something odd happened to me as I watched the trailer for Titanic‘s 3D re-release: I got a bit nostalgic for a James Cameron film. The sweeping camera, the intense emotion, the inevitable sinking feeling, and a time when seeing Kate Winslet naked was a treat rather than an inevitability, all rushed back to me, 12 years after I first saw the film. Have I got James Cameron wrong? Was I too harsh when I declared him a prick?

No.

This is a 3D re-release after all, making it more expensive, more difficult to watch and therefore plain unnecessary. In essence, modern-day prickish James Cameron has taken the good work of pre-prick Cameron and retroactively pricked it up… if that makes sense. It’s as if he looked at his back catalogue, saw something of genuine quality and couldn’t help but ruin it. It’s enough to make me shake my fist in the air and shout out in a growl, “CAMERON!”, but I haven’t done that since the last general election (political!)

The trailer is below, and is a bizarre case of a 2D trailer for the re-release of an old film made into in 3D, therefore unable to showcase any of the new draw. There are also some fresh new stills, some including a pre-prick Cameron, which are also from a film over 10 years old. To repeat a joke, you can get 280,000+ more stills by buying Titanic on DVD.

 

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In summary: I do quite like Titanic, just not in 3D please.

Another Rant About the Digital Economy Act

We had a bit of a rant about the Digital Economy Act back in March last year when the UK government were proposing to block websites and cut off internet users. As fans of various art forms we obviously believe in supporting artists and have the DVD collection to prove it, but don’t necessarily see all forms of piracy as objectively wrong. It’s a bit of a grey area in which you can’t assume that every file downloaded is a theft. One thing we certainly don’t agree with is anyone having the power to block websites (barring the obvious foul sites of course).

It was a relief to read this week that the government seemed to be taking a more modern look at piracy and copyright. The government is going to drop any attempts to block copyright infringing websites and there was even talk of allowing people to legally make digital copies of their CDs and DVDs for use in other devices.

What an enlightened government, which has finally realised how the modern consumer operates and that it doesn’t make sense to turn the majority of Britons into criminals. We won’t have any websites blocked and freedom of speech will truly reign as it should in a modern civilized society. I mean, we don’t want to become the next China do we?

The celebration didn’t last long as it turns out the only reason this part of the Digital Economy Act is being dropped is because the Motion Picture Association have gone ahead and gotten a judge to force BT to block a website without any need for the Act. That’s right, no need for legislation as all a company needs is enough money and they can get websites blocked by ISPs.

Funnily enough UK Music, a body representing musicians and record labels in the UK, think this is a bad move too, but for different reasons. UK Music would prefer it if websites were blocked by government without them having to pay the legal fees first.

Regardless of whether you consider piracy to be a real crime or not, surely the fact that a private organisation can effect what we can see online is criminal? BT’s CleanFeed was designed to stop the circulation of child porn, not to stop people sharing copies of Avatar.

Anything that pisses off James Cameron has got to be a good thing, right?

Piranha 3D Strikes Back at James Cameron

Now I like a good bit of arty cinema from time to time and can often be heard bemoaning the amount of crap we are made to suffer through in cinemas, but I do value enjoyability quite highly. This is the reason that James Cameron’s comments earlier this week got to me so much. I don’t like self-important people insulting other, less successful, people’s work for no reason other to boost their own ego.

James Cameron had a good bit of a poke at Piranha 3D for cheapening 3D and turning it into a gimmick. Now one of the producers of this year’s greatest creature feature, Mark Canton, has retaliated in an articulate, brilliant and brutal fashion. One of my highlights is him drawing to attention the fact that Cameron was fired from directing Piranha 2.

I urge you to go to Movieline and read his full statement as it is glorious. If you’re too lazy then I’ve pasted it below. But don’t be lazy and do read the whole thing.

In fact I’ve just re-read the statement and I think it truly has something important to say beyond just the fact that Avatar isn’t the best thing since Citizen Kane. Mark Canton is my new hero.
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James Cameron is a Prick

As it’s a Bank Holiday I will be lazy and copy and paste directly from the wonderful Movie|Line a quote from James Cameron. Only while they seem to agree with him I find him offensive prickish.

“I tend almost never to throw other films under the bus, but [Piranha 3D] is exactly an example of what we should not be doing in 3-D. Because it just cheapens the medium and reminds you of the bad 3-D horror films from the 70s and 80s, like Friday the 13th 3-D. When movies got to the bottom of the barrel of their creativity and at the last gasp of their financial lifespan, they did a 3-D version to get the last few drops of blood out of the turnip.”

Doesn’t re-releasing a film with a few extra minutes thrown in to make some more money cheapen the medium? How about making preachy film which rips off the plot of Pocahontas, and while nice to look at holds no real substance in dialogue or plot?

I have seen Avatar, Piranha 3D and Friday the 13th 3-D and I know which one I enjoyed the least.

Just when I get over disliking Cameron he pulls me back in!

James Cameron 3D in Your Face!

James Cameron has said that not only is he hoping to re-release an extended Avatar back into cinemas this Autumn but that Titanic is undergoing the 3D conversion for a 2012 re-release. Do the two highest grossing movies of all time need to be back in cinemas? Shouldn’t Avatar let the autumn releases have a chance at making some money instead? Is there any real benefit to somehow making 2D movies 3D?

Grrr argh etc…

Cameron Tangles with Spiderman’s Webb

Two days ago MTV reported that James Cameron had met with Marc Webb to discuss the 3D possibilities for the new Spiderman reboot. I was going to let it slide but considering Mild Concern’s coverage of both the new Spiderman and James Cameron, and a nudge from @dtdwhedon, it had to get a mention.

Obviously Webb is taking on a big project for his second feature, has never dealt with 3D technology before and Cameron is the current expert in the field. For these reasons it makes sense for them to meet and discuss it, I only hope that their discussion goes no further than the technicalities.

Webb has so far shown himself to be a dab hand at dealing with realistic characters, leading with story over flashy visuals, and the more this translates into his next feature the better. I only hope Cameron doesn’t rub off on him too much; I don’t want to see photos of Webb posing with a camera in the next few years.

Also, when are we going to meet our new Peter Parker?

Cameron Tries Writing

Along with planning an Avatar trilogy James Cameron is set to write a novel based before the first film, Jon Landau has revealed to MTV. The book will detail the back-story of Jake Sully, his colleagues and the Na’vi; clearly there just isn’t enough time in three films to tell the whole story.

Those of us who think Avatar’s major weak point was the core story will, I’m sure, be intrigued to see how Cameron faces the challenge of writing a book; Pocahontas only ever had a sequel, never a prequel. Of course the real target here is true Avatar fans who are hungry to learn all they can about their favourite 3D characters, soon to be represented in black and white text. A definite case of swapping 3D glasses for reading glasses, despite how cringeworthy the sentence may be.

This seems an odd move for a franchise so synonymous with draw-dropping visuals and disappointing storytelling. While I am intrigued by the idea I am unlikely to follow through when the book is published in late 2010.

Cameron’s Camera

Vanity Fair recently tasked acclaimed photographer Annie Leibovitz with photographing the creative forces behind the past year’s greatest films, focussing on “the bond between actor and director.” The results can be seen here and show the likes of Meryl Streep and Penélope Cruz posing with their respective directors.

Within the twelve photographs there is one notable exception which you can see above; for some reason James Cameron is posing not with Sam Worthington and/or Zoe Saldana but with his revolutionary camera. I find this particularly odd considering him constantly stating that the acting in Avatar is every bit as real as in a fully live action film, yet here Cameron is almost calling the camera his biggest collaborator. Weird.

Cameron Vs Cameron

Avatar has finally done as predicted and knocked Titanic off the top spot for highest grossing film of all time. Cameron has beaten his own record and will probably be smug forever more. For me this feels like a hollow victory of style over substance, one that tells the studios that fancy effects and endless marketing makes for a guaranteed success. Which perhaps it does.

Looking at the figures a different way, Avatar‘s budget was so massive that it needed a record breaking box office to bring about a reasonable percentage return on the studios investment. If claims of a $500 million total production and marketing budget are to be believed, Avatar only made less than four times the investment it cost. The real winner is Paranormal Activity.

Paranormal Activity was made for a meagre $15,000 and made over $140 million dollars meaning a whopping percentage return on investment of 472,962.70% (as shown here). I’m not an expert on investments but this looks like a case for smaller films with viral marketing to get a bigger return for your money. It is worth noting that the second most profitable movie of all time, based of percentage return on investment is The Blair Witch Project. Obviously not every film can have a micro budget but those that do should not be overlooked as they are far more profitable than effects laden epics like Avatar.