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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.
Since George A. Romero's 1968 Night of the Living Dead, flesh-eating Hollows – aka Zombies, Lurkers, Biters or the Undead – have become a part of a phenomenon that is still dominating the horror-scene today.
However, with the release of Nick Lyon's Rise of the Zombies, one can’t help but wonder: who in their right mind would allow for this TV movie travesty to be released in cinemas in Egypt?
Set in a run-down and abandoned San Francisco, Rise of the Zombie's opening scenes show a group of panic-stricken folks trying to escape from the hungry hands of the infected monsters. Their mission, unfortunately, soon fails and – thanks to a badly executed CGI car crash – everyone, apart from one young pregnant woman who manages to escape, is left behind as food.
The film then shifts focus to a different group of people who have taken refuge in the infamous Alcatraz Prison. The troop is led by the sturdy Dr. Lynn Snyder (Hemingway), fellow scientist Dr. Dan Helpern (Burton) and the barmy-looking Caspian (Trejo). While Dr. Helpern continues to do his research and find a cure to kill the 'virus' which has been spreading like wildfire, Dr. Snyder believes that it's the peculiar researcher, Dr. Arnold – who has been sending in video transmits from the mainland – has all the answers.
However, it's not long before the zombies – who have apparently learned how to swim over the years – infiltrate the prison, forcing its refugees to flee and search for another safe-house and quite possibly the cure for the fast-spreading 'infection'.
The producers and the distributors for this film – The Asylum – are known for their exclusively B-list, straight-to-DVD productions, and Rise of the Zombies is a complete mockery of a film from minute one. Apart from the plot being completely unoriginal, the characters – whose survival and well-being is imperative to drive the story – fail to register with the audience and the poorly scripted dialogue, and its flimsy delivery, only adds to the absurdity of it all, though the make-up isn’t entirely dreadful
Unfortunately, the cast – which includes a few recognisable faces – can’t rise above the shabby material. Hemingway, an actress who has been seen in a good share of mindless action flicks, has never been worse. Failing to add an ounce of personality to her character, she is almost robotic in her delivery, while badass Trejo looks embarrassed the entire way through.
Predictable, cheesy, and downright upsetting, Rise of the Zombies is definitely like no other zombie-fest you'll ever see – and that is not a compliment.
Is love stronger than the laws of gravity? Well, that's one peculiar question that the Argentinean director, Juan Diego Solanas, attempts to answer in newest trippy sci-fi adventure, Upside Down.
Upside Down begins with an informative voiceover explaining the story of two parallel planets – Down and Up – that are stationed exactly opposite each other, existing in the same solar system, with shared yet opposing gravity. All physical matter must obey the gravity of the world from which it comes; both planets exert an equal, but opposite, pull and messing with these laws of physics can potentially result in deadly consequences.
While Down is poor and rundown, Up is rich and affluent; going Up or interacting with the people from Up is deeply forbidden, and the only thing bridging the two is the sinister company, TransWorld.
As a child, Adam (Sturgees) – a hopeful young boy from Down – climbs to the top of Sage Mountain to get close to Up, only to meet the pretty young blonde, Eden (Dunst), from the planet Up. The couple’s affections soon blossom; however, they also attract unwanted attention from the authorities. A bloody confrontation occurs, leaving the soul-mates stranded on their own individual planets for the next ten years.
The story then moves forward and Adam – who is convinced that Eden is gone forever – is working in a run-down lab, trying to perfect a secret, pink bee pollen ingredient he’s inherited; one that allows matter to detect the gravitational fields of both planets at once.
Soon, he lands a job at the intimidating TransWorld and finds that Eden is working there as well. However, in order to get to her, Adam needs to fight against strict corporate rules and against the forces of gravity to find his way into her arms again.
The concept is definitely unorthodox, but not entirely ridiculous. It's a rather creative concept, yes, but perhaps a little too grand for its own good.
The backdrop is not the problem here – it's the story itself. To begin with, this is a tale of star-crossed lovers who will do anything – even challenge the laws of gravity – in order to be with each other. However, their story never really gets a chance to develop, and thanks to a couple of ridiculous subplots and the overpowering presence of their parallel worlds – shot beautifully using CGI effects – it never gets a chance to evoke any sympathy from, or connection to, the audience.
Both Sturgees and Dunst share a decent amount of on-screen chemistry, but the characters get a little lost in their parallel worlds. With no real story to work with, Sturgees looks flustered and Dunst lacks the charisma and allure to draw the audiences in.
Packing in an enormous amount of visual thrills, Upside Down is quirky, original and pleasing to the eye. However, its overly ambitious approach manages to forsake the heart of the story – or rather, lack thereof.