Titanic 3D Floats
Last night, I saw Titanic in its new 3D release at an AMC ETX (Enhanced Theater eXperience) venue. Using two projectors and RealD passive glasses, the image was brighter than single-projector RealD and way brighter than Arclight's Xpand active-glasses system. So how was the 3D conversion?
Much better than I expected. Unlike the dreadful 3D conversion of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menacewhich I wrote about hereTitanic's 3D is much more pronounced and generally quite effective. Of course, leave it to James Cameron, the movie's writer/director and a 3D maven, to do it right, undoubtedly at great expense. The main subjects of each shot are primarily in the screen plane, and most of the depth is "behind" the screen. Items intended to be in front of the screen are mostly at the far sides and often out of focus, increasing the sense that they are closer to you without being in your face.
That isn't to say the 3D is perfect. Many shots have that "cardboard cutout" appearance with only two or three distinct layers, which makes the actors look like they're in front of a flat set. Also, most long shots of the ship and deck are not stereoscopicthere's no divergence in the image if you look without the glasses. This is a bit odd, but I suppose these shots were deemed to have enough "depth" in and of themselveseither that, or such shots are too difficult to convert well.
Still, I found the whole experience to be surprisingly enjoyable, especially since I wasn't really looking forward to it all that much. Aside from the historical tale of British industrial hubris, I've always thought the fictional love story lacks any real depth. Everything about it is so two-dimensional (pardon the pun), including the characters, the rigid class divisionswhich resonate more today than they did when the movie was first made in 1997and the inevitable tragic ending.
Yet I found myself responding more emotionally than I thought I wouldhate for Cal Hockley (Billy Zane), the rich jerk to whom Rose (Kate Winslet) is forcibly engaged; hope for the star-crossed lovers, Rose and Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio); and anxiety for all 2200 souls trying to escape the doomed metal leviathan as the icy water slowly engulfs it. Whether or not you think Titanic is a great movie, it is certainly great moviemaking.
Is it better in 3D than in 2D? I wouldn't say so, but neither would I say that the 3D conversion detracts from it. It's simply a different experience. If you're not fond of 3D in general, don't go. But if, like me, you enjoy well-done 3D, the new release of Titanic is worth the price of admission. Just be sure to visit the restroom before you sit down for over three hours!