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'Titanic 3D' an epic worth rediscovering

Published April 18. 2012 05:01PM

"Titanic" is worth a second look, especially in 3D on the big screen.

The 3D enhancement of the 1997 blockbuster gives the moviegoer even more of a visceral sense of peril, with rushing water, claustrophobic halls, and the sinking ship breaking apart.

Writer-director James Cameron was mocked when, at the podium when "Titanic" received 11 Oscars at the 1998 Academy Awards including best picture and director, he announced, "I'm king of the world," repeating a famous line of dialogue by Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) from the movie.

Cameron can lay claim to being king, of the cinema world. "Titanic" was the biggest-grossing movie of all time, with $600.8 million at the box office in North America and $1.8 billion worldwide until his own "Avatar" (2009).

National Geographic documentaries, a new TV miniseries, newspaper and magazine articles, internet links and special events observe the 100th anniversary of The White Star Line's maiden voyage of the Titanic, which became its final voyage April 15, 1912, with some 1,500 perishing after an iceberg punctured its hull.

There's a proverbial iceberg, or lack of icebergs, looming. "Titanic," ostensibly about the tragedy of the then largest luxury ocean liner deemed unsinkable, was a cautionary metaphor for the folly of man 15 years ago, and even more so in 2012.

"Titanic" is compelling melodrama. At its "heart of the sea," as the necklace bestowed upon Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) by Cal (Billy Zane) is called, is a "Romeo and Juliet" story of love beyond socioeconomic limits. There aren't gangs of New York as in "West Side Story," but the band Gaelic Storm has a good "crack" for Jack and Rose to dance the night away in steerage.

DiCaprio and Winslet have never been better. Soon after "Titanic," DiCaprio had a box office bomb ("The Beach," 2000). Notable roles followed, but it's a long way from DiCaprio's fresh-faced brio in "Titanic" to that of playing crabby J. Edgar Hoover in "J. Edgar" (2011).

It's been an equally circuitous career for Winslet, from the engaging ingénue in "Titanic" to the raging harridan of "Carnage" (2011). She's had memorable roles, too, receiving an actress Oscar for "The Reader" (2009). However, as with DiCaprio, Winslet may be best remembered for "Titanic."

Cameron has gone on to write and direct "Avatar," grossing $2.7 million worldwide. It's not just about the numbers. With "Avatar," Cameron pushed the boundaries of 3D and Computer Generated Imagery.

He also satisfied his passion for scientific research into the Titanic wreck at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and set a one-man submarine dive record at some seven miles to the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. In this, Cameron is also King Neptune.

"Titanic" ranks right up there with the great cinema epics, including "Gone with the Wind" and "The Ten Commandments." For once, in 3D, it's better.

"Titanic 3D," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for disaster related peril and violence, nudity, sensuality and brief language; Genre: Adventure, Drama, History; Romance; Run time: 3 hours, 14 minutes; Distributed by 20th Century Fox and Paramount.

Credit Readers Anonymous: The "Titanic 3D" credits are remarkably matter-of-fact.

Box Office, April 13: "The Hunger Games" made it a lucky fourth week in a row at No. 1 for the Friday the 13th weekend, $21.5 million; $337 million, four weeks; making stooges of "The Three Stooges," opening at No. 2 with $17.1 million and "The Cabin in the Woods," opening at No. 3 with $14.8 million. "The Hunger Games" is the first four weeks in a row No. 1 since "Avatar" in 2010.

4. "Titanic 3D," $11.6 million, $44.4 million, two weeks; $645.2 million, overall; 5. "American Reunion," $10.7 million, $39.9 million; two weeks; 6. "Mirror Mirror," $7 million, $49.4 million, three weeks; 7. "Wrath of the Titans," $6.9 million, $71.2 million, three weeks; 8. "21 Jump Street," $6.8 million, $120.5 million, five weeks; 9. "Lockout," $6.2 million, opening; 10. "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax," $3 million, $204.4 million, seven weeks.

Box Office, April 6: "The Hunger Games" was No. 1 for a third week in a row. "American Reunion" opened at No. 2 with $21.5 million. "Titanic 3D" opened at No. 3 with $17.4 million for the weekend, and $25.7 million (since April 4).

4. "Wrath of the Titans," $15 million, $58.9 million, two weeks; 5. "Mirror Mirror," $11 million, $36.5 million, two weeks;" 6. "21 Jump Street," $10.2 million, $110 million, four weeks; 7. "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax," $5 million, $198 million, six weeks; 8. "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," $975,000, $4.6 million, five weeks; 9."John Carter," $820,000, $68 million, five weeks; 10. "Safe House," $581,000, $125 million, nine weeks.

Unreel, April 20:

"The Lucky One," MPAA Rated PG-13, Drama: A Marine (Zac Efron), after serving three tours in Iraq, searches for Beth (Taylor Schilling), who he thinks was his good-luck charm.

"Think Like a Man," MPAA Rated PG-13, Comedy: Four friends turn the tables on their significant others. Chris Brown, Gabrielle Union and Kevin Hart star.

"Chimpanzee," MPAA Rated G, Documentary. Tim Allen narrates the Walt Disney nature film about a chimp improbably adopted by a grown male chimpanzee.

"To the Arctic 3D," MPAA Rated G, Documentary: Meryl Steep narrates the film about a mother polar bear and her two cubs.

Read previous movie reviews by Paul Willistein at the Times-News web site, and listen to them on "Lehigh Valley Art Salon," 6 - 6:30 p.m. Mondays, Lehigh Valley Community Public Radio WDIY 88.1 FM,, where the movie reviews are archived. Email Paul Willistein and on Facebook

Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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