A pioneer of the resurgence in 3D, James Cameron's dedication to the format can simply not be under-estimated. Having been the driving force behind the technology in Avatar's decade-spanning journey to our screens – which went on to gross £2.7 billion at the box office, the biggest in history by quite a margin – Cameron has spent the last year braving the waters in supervising the most ambitious 2D-to-3D conversion ever seen, in bringing his very first billion dollar movie back to the big screen where it belongs.
Not shy of gambling big in studio dollars, Titanic 3D is rumoured to have cost upwards of $18 million to convert, with around 300 artists working round the clock for 60 weeks. But what a remarkable retro-fit is has turned out to be - Titanic 3D is not only a solid conversion of 1997's 11 Oscar-winning show-piece of the ill-fated ocean liner, but a magnificent 3D film in its own right. Cameron had the verve months before this 100-year anniversary re-release that his vision had been realised in what he said comes as close to 3D as possible without being true 3D, '2.9D' as he called it. And we'd be inclined to agree wholeheartedly with that assumption. The 3D afforded with the conversion brings a discernible, and incredibly dramatic, edge to an already sublime modern classic of star-crossed lovers Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio).
'Immersion' is a term thrown around all too often in the 3D marketing world, but here you can really believe it. While the vast majority of the first half of the film has little to benefit from the added depth of field – with the exception of the dive through the wreck of the Titanic early on, as haunting and eerie as it has ever been – the added dimension brings an immediacy and a very real sense of danger as soon as the iceberg strikes the starboard side of the “unsinkable” ship (“She's made of iron sir... I assure you she can, and she will”). The sheer unrelenting power of the ocean flushes towards the screen like never before, the heart-breaking desperation, panic and hopelessness felt by those left literally fighting for their lives when one of Titanic's most fatal design flaws becomes apparent - the lack of lifeboats aboard - ever more real.
While the majority of film critics will likely snub the film for the large part for turning a blind eye to a good portion of the dialogue, the portrayal of the upper-lower class divide and the almost cartoonish, 'boo-hiss' characterisation of certain characters – not least Billy Zane's repugnant, cunning Cal Hockley, that's really over-looking the sheer spectacle of what Titanic is. 15 years later and the special effects still hold up tremendously well (the “I'm Flying” scene still brings a tear to the eye), James Horner's' score is emotive and grandiose, the attention to detail superb, the chemistry between its leads unfaltering, and the tragedy that unfolds more moving at every viewing.
But above all, whatever the purists make of its 'film-making credibility', Titanic is still one of the most utterly spellbinding and engrossing films of our time for the love story at its heart; captivating, touching and, as Titanic and the fate of its passengers comes to the fore, ultimately heart-wrenching. Take it upon yourselves to see Titanic in the few weeks the re-release will adorn our multiplexes: it really is a film that deserves the big screen viewing. As Cal chooses to inform Rose, “You can be blasé about some things, but not about Titanic.” We couldn't have said it better ourselves. 10/10