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DVD Review: TITANIC (SCE)

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PHOTOGRAPHY

TITANIC Special Collector's Edition

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 194 minutes, three audio commentaries, alternate ending, 29 deleted scenes, branching featurettes, music video, press kit featurettes, Breaking new Ground (FOX Special), 1912 Newsreel, Construction Timelapse, Deep Dive presentation, videomatics, visual effects breakdowns, Titanic crew video, ship tour, still galleries

STUDIO: FOX/ Paramount/ Lightstorm

RELEASE DATE: 10-25-2005

TITANIC is one of the few movies I have seen more than once in the theaters. It is a big blockbuster that has made over $1.8 billion worldwide. TITANIC is a theater experience movie. I avoided TITANIC when it hit video, aired on TV, and even the first DVD release.

I do have to admit that my favorite part is the last half with all the action and drama surrounding the sinking Titanic. Will jack and Rose get off the ship? Many people wait for their deaths as the Titanic didn't have enough lifeboats. The power of TITANIC is during that second half of the movie. How would you face what people went through when the ship was going down? It was a disaster. A tragedy.

TITANIC is a love story of Jack (Leonardo Dicaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) who meet on the maiden voyage of the Titanic which would end in tragedy for at half of the people on board after the ship hit an iceberg. Many were calling this a big bomb in the making before it was released, but it captured the hearts of audiences and it kept making money. If no one remembers director James Cameron for Aliens, the first two Terminator films, or The Abyss, they will remember TITANIC. The story starts in the present when old Rose (Gloria Stuart) decides to confront her past when a drawing of her is unearthed from a safe taken up from the Titanic. She tells the salvage team her story of being on the tragic voyage of the Titanic, but the salvage team is interested in a priceless necklace (the Heart of the Ocean) that was rumored to have sank with the ship back in 1912.

The only complaint I have about TITANIC is the director himself.   He drops out of the limelight after winning all fo these awards and directs some documentaries and produces DARK ANGEL TV series (which is a good show), but I would have loved to seen another action movie from Jim within these last few years (I do know TRUE LIES 2 stalled dead in the water).    

VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

Colors and shadow values are A plus. Image detail has no problems at all. Fantastic transfer.

AUDIO: English 5.1 Dolby Surround EX, English 2.0 DS, English 6.1 DTS ES, French 2.0 DS, Spanish 2.0 DS

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

The audio is downright amazing. Dialogue is crisp. The sounds of the Titanic sinking pop out at you. The music is loud and powerful.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The TITANIC SCE has hours and hours of extras. Before I go into what is on these three discs, I have to note two things. The region 2 set in Europe has a fourth disc which includes an HBO First Look Special, 3 Titanic parodies, and trailers for TITANIC. Also James Cameron opted not to have a feature length documentary on the making of TITANIC to be included in this set. So the SCE in North America shrank from four discs to three discs. If you want to see the trailers and other fourth disc extras, you have to buy the R2 DVD set and have a player that is able to play PAL or be able to convert from PAL to NTSC. Now to what extras are included on this three disc set.

DISC 1 and 2- The movie has three audio commentaries. The one with director James Cameron is the best since he manages to weave historical facts with production information about the movie. The historical commentary is also worth a listen while the cast and crew commentary leaves some to be desired since the producers (Rae Sanchini and Jon Landau) do hog the spotlight. It is fun to hear Kate Winslet say how Leo complained about being in the water where she spent more time filming in the water. The Celine Dion music video is on disc two if you care to watch it again. Also on the second disc is an interesting alternate ending which could be good or bad. It goes either way whether it would have hurt the film or not if James Cameron didn't cut it. The other big feature on the discs are 100 behind-the-scenes pods (mini-featurettes) you can access via branching while wtaching TITANIC or on their own. Many little production tidbits are shown including a featurette on Kate Winslet's dress for the second half of the film and Jon Landau giving commentary on many of the pods while they play.

DISC 3- The big highlight of the third disc are twenty-nine deleted scenes (with optional commentary by James Cameron) which total about 47 1/2 minutes and twenty of the scenes being cut from the second half of the film. It might have been nice to be able to have a brancing version of Titanic that used the deleted scenes in the film itself for an alternate extended cut. Maybe for Hi-Def DVD (HD-DVD and/or Blu-ray) one of these days.

The 1912 Newsreel is a fictional newsreel using the characters and actors from the film. Several press kit featurettes are also on the third disc while teh best thing including in the Marketing section of the disc is the Fox Special on TITANIC, BREAKING NEW GROUND, which is one part history on the Titanic and one part promo for the film (with a couple of deleted scenes show too).

The Construction Timelapse has optional commentary as you witness the Titanic set being constructed under five minutes. James Cameron narrates his deep dive to Titanic. Videomatics are a crude previz look at two key sequences back in the days before computers created previsualition of special effects scenes before they were created. Six Visual Effects Breakdown featurettes are alsoincluded.

The TITANIC CREW VIDEO is a madcap and light hearted look at the fun the cast and crew had behind the scenes while making TITANIC. Then a ship tour is also seen on this DVD. Eight still galleries from storyboards to facts on the movie's success are here.

FINAL ANLYSIS: The TITANIC Special Collector's Edition is impressive, but it is imperfect due to the last minute changes to the set and the loss of a the fourth disc from the US set.

this DVD Review is (c)10-20-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia