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Titanic 3D: A Chance to Relive ‘97
Titanic was momentous and its effect on pop culture was probably bigger than its effect on cinema. There hasn’t been a film since Titanic that has managed to create such a fuss; attracting everybody and their grandmother to the cinema, and dominating everybody’s conversations regardless of age or ethnicity. Even the Harry Potter series, arguably the biggest films of this millennium, have a fan base that maxes out at a certain age. Besides, the Titanic onslaught was also aural; Celine Dion’s theme song was inescapable and remained that way for a few years after. It’s actually a wonder that something so fantastically irritating was so popular, but luckily it seems we’re being spared the musical assault this time around.
In hindsight, Titanic is pretty cheesy. Actually scratch pretty, it’s super cheesy. The dialogue is basically clunker after clunker; one of them in particular: “A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets,” sounds like something out of a bad dating manual. The younger Rose contends with her share of duds where Kate Winslet seems very ill at ease while she delivers them. In fact, she only loosens up somewhat when she starts to fall in love with Jack; it’s the romance that enchanted viewers the first time around that has kept the film culturally relevant and generated it so much goodwill. It’s the epitome of a love story. You have two very attractive leads acting out a forbidden love story between a girl stifled by upper class norms, and a free spirited artist from the wrong side of the tracks. Toss in her stubborn, arrogant fiancé, who she’s being pressured into marrying to save her family from financial ruin, and you have just the right elements of a great forbidden love. The Titanic going down is just window dressing and the only reason we care about the accident is because of its effect on Jack and Rose’s relationship. As a viewer, you spend the length of the film rooting for them to end up together; the iceberg is just one more obstacle keeping them apart. And yes, the part where Rose lets Jack go at the end is still as tear inducing as ever.
It’s interesting to see Leonardo DiCaprio at his teen heartthrob peak. It’s easy to forget now but back in the ‘90s DiCaprio was inescapable; he was to the ‘90s what Zac Efron and Taylor Lautner are to this decade.
The 3D effect adds considerable depth to the picture but like most reissues, the real draw here is seeing the film in the cinema; the 3D doesn’t add enough to warrant another viewing if you’re just lukewarm about the film, or if you’ve already seen it a trillion times on TV. The true experience here is reliving 1997 all over again; in other words, feeling nostalgia. Whether it’s for the days when ‘blockbuster’ wasn’t just a code name for a superhero flick; for when film events weren’t a dime a dozen and managed to capture the general public’s attention for extended periods of time; or for when one film would come along and give everybody something in common to be excited about.
The fourth and supposedly last film in Bryan Singer’s X-Men reboot trilogy has a decent mix of action and visual splendor enough to keep the fans happy; only the movie is not short of stretched out running time and lack of emotional gravity.
Set in the early eighties – almost a decade after the events in Washington D.C exposed mutants to the world at large - the story begins with Professor Charles Xavier (McAvoy) seemingly happy teaching at his school for the gifted where we get to meet several new faces, including Scott Summers’ Cyclops (Sheridan) and Jean Grey (Turner).
Meanwhile, Magneto is keeping a low-profile somewhere out in Poland whilst Mystique (Lawrence) is busy travelling around the world looking to free enslaved mutants, coming across a special young man known as Nightcrawler (Smit-McPhee).
When the remains of En Sabah Nur – a.k.a. Apocalypse - (Isaac) are discovered in the deepest trenches of Egypt, the powerful mutant is soon awakened and he is not happy.
With plans to rule the world, he recruits The Four Horseman including, Psylocke (Munn), Storm (Shipp), Archangel (Hardy) and Magneto himself and it doesn’t take long before he begins his reign of terror upon the world, forcing the students – led by Mystique and Beast (Hoult) – to come together and learn to control their powers in order to fight the new evil.
While it does reach a certain level of superiority above its previous installments in terms of visual grandness and action set-pieces, X-Men: Apocalypse has failed to raise the stakes in its supposedly closing chapter– sure there is more death and devastation on display but the consequences are free from any emotional impact - with Singer struggling to find sentiment and meaning in his a little too serious world of mutants.
On the other hand, however, the movie delivers on the action front with a couple of sequences - including Quicksilver’s (Peters) dazzling showdown inside of a burning building and Magneto’s takedown of Auschwitz – while Apocalypse’s very own mythological beginning earns the movie points for creativity.
Performance wise, X-Men’s younger cast doesn’t exactly ooze confidence in their very first X-Men outing, however, they are all still very likable and watching them learn to embrace their powers is entertaining. Meanwhile, the turbulent relationship between Xavier and Magneto – both McAvoy and Fassbender reliable in their roles– takes a seat back with the duo sharing very little screen time this time around.
As for the major villain of the story, well, he is not as threating as the movie might want him to be and despite Isaac’s best intentions, he doesn’t really manage to resonate as anything but a one-note villain.
X-Men: Apocalypse may not be one of the series’ finest entries to date. Big, colorful and not as loud as it should have been, the movie offers more of the same; which, depends on how you look at it, is not exactly a bad thing.
There’s a certain draw to the idea of watching George Clooney and his real-life gal-pal Julia Roberts together on-screen. The duo’s fourth movie together, after Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, comes in the form of director Jodie Foster’s fourth-feature-film, Money Monster; an intriguing but seemingly cheesy and off-balance financial thriller which, despite its brief moments of genuine tension and topical subject, feels empty and somewhat even outdated in its storytelling.
The film tells of Lee Gates (Clooney); a flamboyant TV host of a financial show called ‘Money Monster’ where he provides advice to his viewers on how, where and when to invest their money. Gates has earned quite a bit of success in doing what he does, though his long-time producer, Patty Fenn (Roberts), is deserving of most of the credit.
Things take a turn, however, when IBIS Global Capital's stock takes a tumbling dive and results in an $800 million loss for its investors - a day after Gates advises viewers to invest. The studio is then taken hostage during a live broadcast by one seemingly irate and explosives-strapped investor, Kyle Budwell (O’Connell), who has lost his entire life savings and blames Gates.
One of the most disappointing things about Money Monster is how predictable it all feels with its socio-political commentary. Attempting to depict the ugly face of Wall Street, the subject is a topical one, yes, but has been covered much more affectively with recent films such as The Big Short and 99 Homes. Adding very little understanding or insight into its subject, Foster keeps things relatively tight in the first half, only to lose focus and complete control in the second when the plot swerves off-course into moments of complete implausibility, as the Julia Roberts’ Patty figures that the only way to diffuse the hostage situation is to go digging into IBIS, to provide an explanation to the hostage taker.
However, Clooney and Roberts share an easy chemistry and seem very much at home with their respective roles, with the former offering just enough charisma as the media pinhead with a heart of gold and Roberts keeping things grounded as his steadfast producer and friend. O’Connell, dubious New York accent aside, is equally convincing, however, the solid performances make little difference. Money Monster is just too contrived, uninvolving and one-dimensional.