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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.
In 1986, Richard ‘The Iceman’ Kuklinski was sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of three murders – just a fraction of the hundreds of murders that he laid claim to.
Following a steady stream of books and documentaries on the notorious killer, Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman comes as the first on-screen adaptation.
Based on Anthony Bruno’s nonfiction book, The Ice Man: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer, the story opens in the mid-60’s with a rather shy Richard Kuklinski (Shannon) on his first date with future wife, Deborah (Ryder). The couple shares a cup of coffee and Deborah innocently falls for his quick-witted ways hidden beneath his otherwise stone-faced demeanour, and the couple soon weds.
Kuklinski’s day job sees him dubbing and selling porn with partner and friend, Dino (Abeckaser). Embarrassed by his line of work, Kuklinski prefers to keep to himself and never allows family or friends – including Deborah – in on his shameful dealings. He’s a troubled and disturbed man, whose off-kilt temperament produces wild bursts of rage. It’s these characteristics that catch the eye of Roy DeMeo (Liotta) – a member of the Gambino crime family – who recruits him as a hired gun.
It’s at this point that Kuklinski embarks on his career as a killer, as he tries to balance his personal and ‘professional’ lives.
No one does creepy better than Shannon and the gifted actor – who was recently seen serving up the goods as the relentless General Zod in Man of Steel – pushes the envelope and delivers a blockbuster performance; unsmiling, pitiless and downright heartless, his presence simply demands attention every time he’s on screen.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the rest of the gang, which include Liotta, Schwimmer and Evans, all of whom fall victims to mobster-movie stereotypes. Meanwhile, Ryder, who hasn’t been seen since her small outing in the 2010’s Black Swan, makes a fine fit for Kuklinski’s oblivious and completely ignorant wife.
Taking cue from films such as Goodfellas, Mean Streets and Donnie Brasco, Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman is crammed with clichés – including Shannon's horrendous handlebar moustache – making the infamous serial killer’s biography a rather wearisome affair.
With one tiresome killing sequence after another, the film does little to penetrate what must have been a fascinating case-study behind a brutal murderer.
Based on real events, Love and Honor - Danny Mooney’s directorial debut – follows one American soldier in his fight for love. However, with it’s glossy, squeaky clean façade, the romantic drama does very little to stir the emotions within.
Set in the late 60’s, the story opens up in the jungles of South Vietnam where two soldiers, best buds Pvt. Mickey Wright (Hemsworth) and Pvt. Dalton Joiner (Stowell) are making their way through the hidden dangers of the tropical forest. Mickey and his arrogance ensures that Dalton – the more edgy of the two – keeps his cool and stays alive in order to return home to his long-time love and girlfriend, Jane (Teegarden).
After the twosome successfully escape the grips of death, they go on a leave of absence; the idea of exploring the Southeast Asian brothels seems like an appealing idea to Mickey, but after receiving a disturbing ‘Dear John’ letter from Jane, Dalton has other plans. Informing him that it’s better if they go their separate ways, Dalton is desperate to win her back, and decides to go home for the week with Mickey following for moral support.
However, upon their arrival they soon discover that the free-thinking youth movement has taken over, including Jane, who has now decided to go by ‘Juniper’. With their presence immediately causing negative attention, the soldiers claim to be peace-seekers deserters. This lie causes Juniper to rethink her feelings for Dalton, whilst Mickey finds comfort in the arms of her best-friend and fellow flower child, Candace (Palmer).
Pinned up high against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, Love and Honor hopes that the up-and-coming Aussie star, Liam Hemsworth will bring in the much-needed credibility and appeal. However, even he found it impossible to overcome the story’s careless script and mechanical ways. Hemsworth’s presence will undoubtedly leave young teenage fans weak at the knees, but as far as his performance goes, the young actor fails to turn the film into anything more meaningful than just another teenage-romance flick. The same goes for his partner-in-crime Stowell, although he managed to bring a bit more versatility to his role. As the boys’ love interest, Palmer and Teegarden were a little too playful and animated to be taken seriously.
The script, written by Jim Burnstein and Garrett K Schiff, plays out like a wistful and a rather tasteless Danielle Steel novel that would later be turned into a small TV-movie. It’s all a little too obvious and eager to please and everything from the costume department to the all too familiar soundtrack, which naturally includes both “Spirit in the Sky” and “Magic Carpet Ride”.
Love and Honor seems fake and insincere; any chances of it becoming a sweet and lovable romantic drama are completely diminished by its conventional, tasteless ways.