Titanic 3D/2D * * * *
12A, 195 mins
UNTIL writer-director James Cameron released Avatar 11 years later in 2009, his previous film Titanic reigned supreme as the highest grossing movie in cinema history.
Released in the UK in January 1998, it won a record-equalling 11 Oscars from 14 nominations, including best picture and director.
From tomorrow, Titanic is being re-released in 3D and again runs to a mammoth three-and-a-quarter hours.
Yes, the boat still sinks – but we knew that the first time around in 2D and that didn’t stop people from flocking to see it in such record-breaking numbers.
Age hasn’t improved the film but, unlike the ship itself, it certainly still floats.
The script was one of the few categories for which Titanic was not nominated at the Academy Awards (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon won that year for Good Will Hunting) and on second viewing that is now more apparent.
James Horner’s score did win and his haunting theme still works.
The action sequences have also retained the power to thrill, but, if you’ve already seen them, they might feel lacking in a film where the iceberg doesn’t appear for 90 minutes.
There’s also the knowledge that if the story was brand new then today’s filmmakers – led, no doubt, by Cameron himself – would have been able to further emphasise the sinking sense of claustrophobia and hull-snapping kinetics with more lightweight, flexible technology.
As for the 3D conversion, it works.
The added depth is not over ambitious and the stillness of the picture means the 3D is not hard on the eyes like some much shorter but frenetically-edited films in the format.
Titanic 3D is for the generation of cinema-goers who were too young to see it the first time around.
It’s for old-fashioned romantics who want to see a classic love story on the grandest scale.
And for anyone intrigued to see what Kate Winslet (good) and Leonardo DiCaprio (better) were like when they were so much younger than today.
Above all, in the centenary month of the ‘unsinkable’ ship’s demise, it’s worth seeing again just to appreciate a piece of history that is now been more than 100 years in the making.
Just like we’re still fascinated by all things Egyptian today, I rather fancy people will still want to watch Titanic in 900 years’ time even though the film’s cinematographer, Russell Carpenter, has been reduced to projects like Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, The Ugly Truth and This Means War.
Wrath of the Titans 3D * * *
12A, 99 mins
THE title of this film sounds like it could be used to sum up the feelings of the poor souls left floundering in the icy waters of the north Atlantic when the Titanic sank.
Or the emotions of people who went to see the first movie, Clash of the Titans, two years ago.
Yet Avatar star Sam Worthington (Perseus), Liam Neeson as his father Zeus and Ralph Fiennes as uncle Hades are bravely back to try again.
A visibly weakening Zeus is betrayed by Hades and his godly son Ares (Edgar Ramirez).
Though imprisoned, the Titans – led by the gods’ banished father Kronos – are getting stronger.
And they could soon escape Tartarus, a dungeon prison designed by fallen god Hephaestus (an excellent Bill Nighy).
Former Bond girl Rosamund Pike adds a touch of glamour, but is underused as Andromeda and even ends up pulling a few ‘I can’t believe what I’m seeing’ faces of the kind we usually associate with the panel on The Apprentice.
Given the speed of the editing you’d probably be best advised to do what I did – and stick with the 2D version.
With Battle Los Angeles’ director Jonathan Liebesman replacing Louis Leterrier (The Transporter series), the action is already much more involving without the need for dark glasses.
Younger viewers aged from ten to 14 who must also have felt shortchanged by Disney’s recent John Carter, will surely revel in the sight of Perseus battling a two-headed, fire-breathing monster. And that’s just in the opening stages.
Said youngsters will still have to go to school for a few years if they fancy earning themselves a GCSE in classical studies.
But as a larger-than-life, action-packed blockbuster with three of Hollywood’s finest leading men trying their best to add slivers of class amid the heavy-duty scraps, Wrath should send any undemanding viewer home feeling like they’ve had their money’s worth.
Mirror Mirror * *
PG, 106 mins
SNOW White and the Seven Dwarfs was Walt Disney’s first full-length animation.
Released in the UK in March 1938, it became such a revered classic that Hollywood has all but left the story alone. Until now.
Enter Indian film director Tarsem Singh, who made The Cell with Jennifer Lopez in 2000 and last year’s Immortals.
Both movies illustrated what a strong eye for landscapes Singh has without either of them doing as well at the box office as he might have hoped.
Mirror Mirror doesn’t even have that visual ace up its sleeve, still less a leading actress who can be both beautiful and evil at the same time as the wicked Queen.
On this form, Julia Roberts comes over as neither.
Like many a panto Cinderella star having to play second fiddle to both Buttons and the Ugly Sisters, British actress Lily Collins as Snow White – and Amie Hammer as Prince Alcott – perform as if they are almost incidental to the plot.
And to have the dwarfs literally bouncing around on stilts is not only to defy the point of them being vertically challenged in the first place, but their zig-zagged long trousers stretching down to the ground are some of the most annoying-looking costumes ever seen on the silver screen.
Nathan Lane tries his best as the Queen’s simpering sidekick and Sean Bean makes a very belated appearance as the King.
But it’s all too little too late.
With the ludicrous Bollywood-style finale having nothing to do with the rest of the movie, you do wonder if Singh has dared to look at his own face in the mirror since he put the film to bed.
Hodejegerne - Headhunters * * * *
15, 100 mins
ADAPTED from a bestselling novel by author Jo Nesbø, this Norwegian thriller is right up there with my favourites for the year to date.
It’s a slickly-made, compelling story about a headhunter with a taste for swapping art masterpieces with forgeries in order to fund a lavish lifestyle for a wife who wants babies when he doesn’t.
Soon he is the prey for a man he does not promote.
Given its corporate and Scandinavian credentials, which are important in equal measure, Headhunters feels like a subtitled cross between George Clooney’s underrated 2007 thriller Michael Clayton and Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Aksel Hennie plays dodgy dealer Roger Brown, who suspects his beautiful, blonde wife Diana has been having an affair.
Soon he’s on the run fearing for his life.
And, for a man who’s afraid of dogs and children, he’s about to have some truly terrifying experiences. Headhunters is wickedly far fetched, but in a manner which I found to be hugely endearing.
While the tension will have you inching towards the edge of your seat, there’s an undercurrent of good humour beneath the violence in a way that the abuse of Lisbeth Salander in Dragon Tattoo could never be considered to be remotely funny.
This Must Be The Place * * *
15, 112 mins
HAVING won two best actor Oscars in the past decade for Mystic River (2003) and Milk (2008), Sean Penn returns with his most oddball performance yet as a spaced out former rock star.
In his heyday, Cheyenne was so big that Mick Jagger performed with him, not the other way round. Now he’s living a life of relative anonymity in Dublin where he resembles Birds of a Feather star Lesley Joseph but sounds more like he’s impersonating Michael Jackson when he utters bizarre lines like: ‘It’s not a question of being careful, it’s a question of knowing how to play ping-pong’.
Fargo star Frances McDormand might have had more to do as wife Jane to help us to get more inside of Cheyenne’s head.
The film opens with a quick clip of Jamie Oliver and is by turns distractingly set in Ireland, New Mexico and Utah – with Cheyenne out to respect his father’s memory by tracking down a Nazi war criminal.
Shades of Ian McKellen’s 1998 film Apt Pupil, then, with Talking Heads’ Scottish-born star David Byrne who putting in a not-so-special appearance as well as composing the score.
Showing at the Electric Cinema, Station Street, it is also by turns quirky, endearing, infuriating and utterly, utterly barking mad.