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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.
Failing to develop its concept, writer-director James DeMonaco’s final chapter in the horror series, The Purge, the franchise has reached its final destination with a damp squib.
Set in year 2025, it’s once again time for the annual Purge; a government-sanctioned twelve hour period where anything, including murder, is allowed. Designed on the theory of keeping crime down for the rest of the year by letting people let loose, the New Founding Fathers of America - led by Caleb Warrens (Barry) - are big supporters of the occasion and look forward to it every year. However, Senator Charlene ‘Charlie’ Roan (Mitchell) is not exactly on board with the idea and having lost her entire family to the Purge eighteen years before, she’s determined to shut it down and eliminate the practice for good once she is elected President.
Naturally, Roan’s objections to the annual ‘cleansing’ doesn’t sit all too well with the Founding Fathers and order the assassination of the Senator during the upcoming Purge. Protected by Detective Barnes (Grillo), Roan’s security system is soon breached, forcing her and Barnes to flee and head to the streets where the annual violence has already begun.
Playing off of the same concept as the previous two films - except this time there seems to be very little creative direction from DeMonaco - there is an obvious lack of danger present in the mix, with the writing defiantly refusing to explore its premise beyond the aggression masked killers and bloody street violence. What was once a seemingly interesting idea that had theory behind it, now relies on a shock value that has simmered over the trilogy.
Offering a not-so-subtle political viewpoint, subjects such as racism, sexism and religion are integrated into the storyline, but are never really explored in the context of the film’s concept.
Adding to the story’s demise are performances from a cast who fail to evoke any emotion throughout the entire movie, let alone establish a connection with the audience. As the fearlessly-protective cop, Grillo is stiff and ends up taking the material given a little too seriously, while Mitchell is surprisingly hollow as the idealistic politician.
The rules of the game are unclear and the gaps in logic in DeMonaco’s flimsy screenplay are aplenty. Bloody, violent and ridiculously adrift, The Purge: Election Year has failed to cash in on its potential and has settled on a meandering ending to the series, reminding us all that it was probably never really that good to begin with.
Arriving six years after Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland took the box-office by storm – the film ended up earning over a billion dollars despite receiving mixed reviews - the adventures of Wonderland continue with a story that serves both as a prequel and a sequel, in James Bobin’s visually exciting, but rather empty, Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Three years after sailing around on her late father’s ship, Alice (Wasikowska) returns to London to learn that there has been some significant changes in her mother Helen’s (Duncan) living situation and that, on top of everything else, she is now at risk of losing her father’s ship for good. However, before she gets a chance to deal with the situation at hand, which finds her at direct conflict with her ex-fiancé Hamish Ascot (Bill), Alice is contacted by the caterpillar-turned butterfly Absolem (voiced by the late Alan Rickman) whom she decides to follow through a magic mirror leading to Wonderland.
Once there, Alice learns the Mad Hatter (Depp) who, as a result of believing that his family is still alive, has now begun to age rapidly and is slowly dying. Tasked by the White Queen (Hathaway) to save their land by going back in time, Alice decides to pay a visit to Time himself (Cohen); a half-man, half-machine King of clockwork who is not so keen of allowing Alice to use the chromosphere to travel back and save Hatter’s parents from. Refusing to accept defeat, Alice steals the device and sets on her journey, though she soon learns that changing the past doesn’t come without consequences.
Written by Linda Woolverton and directed by The Muppet’s James Bobin, there’s a significant change in the story’s visual dynamics which finds Tim Burton’s shadowy, gothic style in Alice replaced by a psychedelically vibrant and colourful backdrop that is both pleasing and exciting to watch. However, unlike the obvious work and creativity put into bringing energy and precise technicalities into its visual – the use of 3D actually pays off - the writing comes off as a lazy.
Woolverton’s screenplay is confusing at times and the characters, despite their whacky and imaginative surroundings, fall surprisingly flat. At twenty-six years of age Wasikowska seems a little too old to be wandering around Wonderland. Although typically weird and zany in their reprising roles, her co-stars Depp, Bonham-Carter and Cohen, fail to rise to the occasion.
Shiny and exciting to look at, Alice Through the Looking Glass is, overall, a disappointing revisit to Wonderland which, despite its best efforts, fails to make a lasting impression.