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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.
Arriving six years after the original, the follow-up installment to Kevin James’ embarrassingly unfunny and especially agonizing Paul Blart: Mall Cop is just as insufferable and unnecessary as its predecessor.
Directed by Andy Fickman – see She’s the Man – and written by Nick Bakay and Kevin James himself, the story is once again centered on the New Jersey mall security officer, Paul Blart (James) whose life after foiling the Black Friday heist six years ago, is currently down in the dumps. See, his one true love, Amy (Mays) has decided to leave him after only six days of marriage – the explanation is never really given – and his mother (Knight) passes away, leaving Paul to raise his teenage daughter, Maya (Rodriguez) all by himself.
Watching his daughter grow up is something that Paul is struggling with, and when an opportunity to travel to Las Vegas to attend a small Security Officers Convention comes up, Paul and Maya pack their bags and head to Sin City for a much-needed vacation. Unfortunately, their holiday is soon interjected by a group of professional thieves, led by super-robber, Vincent (McDonough), who have decided to use the hotel in which the Blarts are staying at as the target for their next mission. Can Paul save the day once again and be the hero he has been preparing his whole life to be?
Happy Madison Productions seems to have forever lost the concept of comedy and what constitutes a movie worthy of anyone’s time and money. The original movie - released back in 2009 – made some serious bank, grossing over one hundred-and-eight million dollars worldwide on a budget of twenty-six. So, no matter how disturbing that statement actually is, a sequel actually makes sense. Sadly, the efforts of a six-year-long production labor – which is nowhere to be found in fact - doesn’t really pay off as Mall Cop 2 is nowhere near as harmlessly entertaining as the original picture - which says a lot considering that the first movie wasn’t as amiable as we are making it out to be. It’s predominately worse. It’s worse than worse. It’s shameful and totally uncalled for.
The comedy, if you can really call it that, relies too much on James’ shape and size to elicit laughs - not to mention his immense talent of committing to pratfalls – and he is the story’s main attraction. He does well and if you’re a fan, there is some joy to be found in his latest shenanigan-filled debacle. However, if you’re not, you are probably better off giving Mall Cop 2 a serious pass.
With seventeen novels to his name, it’s fair to say that author, Nicholas Sparks, has enjoyed a decent amount of success, especially since his very first book-to-film adaptation of the super-cheesy Message in a Bottle back in 1999. Nine of his novels have been turned into big Hollywood motion-pictures – including The Notebook and Dear John – and his latest, a disastrous and a painfully predictable attempt at a romantic drama, is the author’s tenth and quite possibly, most damaging of them all.
The story opens with Sophia (Robertson); a young woman looking forward to moving to New York City, where she plans to pursue her dreams of working at an art gallery right after she graduates. Things soon get complicated when - while attending a bull-riding competition of all things - she lays her eyes on Luke Collins (Eastwood); a handsome and a talented bull-rider who is making a return after suffering a major injury a year prior. The two are quick to connect and soon begin to spend more time with one another.
One night, they come across a devastating car accident and after managing to pull an elderly man named Ira Levinson (Alda) - and his box full of old letters – out of the wreck, the film smacks on another layer to the story. Sending us all the way back to WWII, the film shifts its focus to young Ira (Huston) and a beautiful young girl named, Ruth (Chaplin), and begins to follow their romance; a story filled with plenty of heartache and tragedy to keep hardcore Sparks fans amused.
One thing’s for sure; if you’ve seen one Nicholas Sparks movie, you’ve seen them all. Two pretty people fall in love. Their potential happily-ever-after is challenegd by a series of obstacles and hurdles which they need to find the strength to overcome. Tragedy strikes. Tears are jerked. Roll credits.
The Longest Ride is one of author’s weakest entries, it’s a little too predictable and as the tenth book-to-movie adaptation for the celebrated author, there’s nothing to separate it from the pack or make it more relevant or topical. The story jumps back and forth rather awkwardly between the past and the present and there is very little that connects the two periods together, making us think why bother with the timeline to begin with?
On the upside, the leads – although lacking quite a bit of chemistry – are likable and both Eastwood and Robertson bring enough charm and easygoingness – yes, that’s a real word – into the story. However, their pretty faces aren’t enough to save the day; unsurprising and tediously slow, The Longest Ride is a truly a long ride.