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Titanic

Cost: well over $200m. Disregarding the ethics of such expenditure on a film, this unprecedented extravagance has not resulted in sophisticated or even very satisfying storytelling (11 Oscars notwithstanding). The main problem concerns characterisation and structure. A framing device in which contemporary fortune hunters question a now ancient survivor, followed by a romance between upper-crust but frustrated Rose (Winslet) and a poor but plucky artist (DiCaprio), entails not only a needlessly protracted build-up to the collision, but primitive plotting and performances. Moreover, the sudden, skimpy, soggy love story leads to a conclusion that's perversely uplifting: if your love's strong, you never really lose each other. (Piffle!) That said, the effects mostly ensure pretty gripping spectacle once the boat begins breaking up. Even then, however, most of the best scenes - excepting a memorably macabre floating necropolis - are so reminiscent of Rank's superior 1958 movie A Night to Remember that Eric Ambler's name would not look amiss on the new film's credits. (Bizarrely, however, Cameron neglects the poignant fact that a nearby ship failed to respond to the Titanic's SOS, thus upping the body count considerably.) Unlike its namesake, this glossy, bombastic juggernaut will not sink. Everyone will see it anyway, and so they should, if only to ponder the future of mainstream cinema.

Release details

Cast and crew

Director: James Cameron
Screenwriter: James Cameron
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio
Kate Winslet
Billy Zane
Kathy Bates
Frances Fisher
Jonathan Hyde
Danny Nucci
David Warner
Bill Paxton