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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.
Melissa McCarthy can rightly be thought of as a guaranteed box office draw, but even as she continues to climb the Hollywood comedy ladder, there has been more misuse of her comedic talents than fans would care to admit. But, boasting an interesting cast, Paul Feig’s latest action-comedy flick, Spy, puts McCarthy centre-stage and though there’s nothing groundbreaking or even particularly fresh here, there’s a decent amount of humour and brainless fun to be found in its surprisingly effective R-rated offerings.
Though this is the third collaboration between McCarthy and Feig – see comedy hit, Bridesmaids, and last year’s not-so-hot, The Heat – Spy sees the bubbly and versatile actress take a lead role under the writer-director for the first time as Susan Cooper; a sharp and an able CIA analyst who spends most of her day sitting behind computer screens, dreaming of one day going into the field. Essentially, she is the eyes and ears for one of the agency’s best field agents, Bradley Fine (Law), who, unfortunately, is totally unaware of her affections towards him.
Things soon go awry when Fine’s latest mission in Varna, Bulgaria goes bust, leaving the identities of the CIA’s top agents compromised. Seizing the opportunity to show what she’s made of, Susan manages to convince her boss (the terribly underused Allison Janney) to let her go undercover and track down Rayna Boyanov (Byrne); the daughter of a deceased arms dealer who has managed to get a hold of a nuclear device and is the only person on the planet who knows where her father might have hidden it.
Positioning itself as a bit of James-Bond spoof, Spy is engagingly humorous and, at times, brutal in a cartoonish way. It doesn’t take itself seriously and there’s a good dose of just plain silliness and far-fetched ideas thrown into the mix. But it’s still far from perfect; some of the jokes miss the mark – McCarthy’s ‘bodyguard-talk’ being the exception – while the action set-pieces and the visuals aren’t as refined as that of, say, Kingsman: The Secret Service, for example – another recent spy-comedy.
Nevertheless, McCarthy is the heart and soul of the party and as a woman who is constantly judged by her appearance, she manages to deliver a surprisingly heartfelt performance, all the while keeping her comedy acting-chops intact. Meanwhile, Byrne – equipped with a deadpan expression and extravagant hairdos – is equally entertaining and her character’s femme-fatale persona is cleverly lampooned. Law has proven he can adapt and deliver in comedies and does so as a handsome and vain operative, while Statham delivers the role of a wired field agent in surprisingly amusing fashion.
Spy is another fine collaboration between Feig and his go-to-girl, McCarthy; witty at times, brainless at others, not everything seems to gel, but if you’re in the mood for a mindless globe-trotting adventure, then Spy ticks all the boxes for an easy-breezy watch.
Arriving fourteen years after the last Jurassic Park entry, the fourth film in the twenty-two-year old franchise is finally here with Trevorrow’s Jurassic World; a thrilling, but flawed, addition to the series that never really recapture the magic of the original, but still manages to excite and serve as a fitting summer blockbuster.
Picking up twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, the story is centred in and around the dinosaur amusement park on Isla Nublar, belonging to billionaire Simon Masrani (Khan), who has taken the idea from the late John Hammond and turned it into a multi-million dollar reality. Responsible for managing the park’s security is rigid operation manager, Claire (Howard), while her impressively knowledgeable colleague – and love interest - Owen (Pratt) is in charge of training the park’s dinosaurs.
As one might expect when playing god, things quickly go wrong when the genetically engineered Indominus Rex – the park’s latest attraction – escapes from its enclosure leaving Simon and his team of soldiers – led by Vic (D’Onofrio) – to fight of the giant monster.
Having spent over a decade in development limbo, there’s a certain amount of satisfaction to be found in the realisation of what, at times, like a pipedream for diehard fans. Though reception has been mixed, Jurassic World proves to be a thrillingly visualised world. The park and all of its bells and whistles – including a petting zoo and a triceratops ride – are designed with careful detailing and the film succeeds in communicating a sense of awe and wonder.
However, in the harsh light of day, the film just doesn’t have the same impact, when considering the fact that the plot isn’t all that fresh – in fact, the skeleton of the story is the same – scientists play god, things go wrong, step forward hero. Granted, the dinosaurs being substantially larger and smarter adds a grandeur to proceedings, their human counterparts aren’t so lucky.
Performances by both Pratt – channelling his inner Indiana Jones – and Howard are solid, however, most of the characters aren’t explored or fleshed out enough to make you care about the outcome, leaving the mass destruction the hub of enjoyment – and it’s simply not enough.
Considered by some quarters to be Spielberg’s biggest contribution to Hollywood, Jurassic Park has a timeless quality about it; a quality that stacks the odds against a successful sequel even more so. This is a top popcorn movie, so to speak, but just lacks the sheer magnitude in ingenuity of the original. But then again, it has broken several box office records.