Directed By: James Cameron

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton, Kathy Bates, Danny Nucci, Bernard Hill, Victor Garber, and Eric Braeden

It's a special year for the Titanic.  April 15th will mark the 100th anniversary of the tragic shipwreck in the North Atlantic Ocean back in 1912 that heralded the deaths of more than 1,500 passengers.   Later this year, December 19th will mark the 15th anniversary of James Cameron's film based on the catastrophe.  With this in mind, it's no surprise that Cameron's epic disaster romance will be re-released in 3D on April 4th.  Before we get too sidetracked by these milestones, let's talk about Cameron's bold move to bring this powerful story back to life on the big screen.

Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) is a treasure hunter in search of the legendary "Heart of the Ocean", a priceless jewel that's been lost for most of the twentieth century.  He recovers the safe of Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) from the RMS Titanic, the jewel's last known location.  Believing he'll find the treasure in Hockley's safe, he instead finds a drawing of a nude woman wearing the jewel on April 14, 1912, the day the Titanic was last above water.  While Brock is talking about his findings on television, an elderly woman named Rose Dawson Calvert (Gloria Stuart) just happens to be tuning into the show.  Rose reaches out to Brock to let him know that she's the woman in the photo.

Along with her granddaughter Lizzy (Suzy Amis), Rose goes to meet Brock out on the Atlantic where the Titanic was shipwrecked.  She proceeds to tell Lizzy, Brock, and his crew a story she's never told another living soul.  She tells them about her life as a young woman (Kate Winslet) and her experience on the RMS Titanic during its maiden voyage.  She tells them about how her engagement to Cal Hockley was suffocating her.   She tells them the real story about the Titanic and her brush with death.  She tells them about how she met Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), the man who saved her life in every way imaginable. 

Titanic is a film that shows us what movies are all about.  It takes us to another time and place with an enchanting story of romance and an epic tale of tragedy.  James Cameron deserves some serious credit for putting together a moving, powerful film like this.  This movie is truly a masterpiece.  It has something for every moviegoer.  Despite its three hour runtime, Titanic will captivate you from start to finish.

With a film set to capture one of the most significant tragedies of the twentieth century, Titanic was destined to be depressing.  It does get pretty grim in the second half of the film as James Cameron gives a gritty depiction of this catastrophic event.  Obviously, the shipwreck itself is an incredibly moving cinematic experience.  What's worse is watching the aftermath as the 700 people who manage to get on lifeboats refuse to help those who end up in the icy Atlantic waters once the Titanic sinks.  Of twenty ships, only one goes back to the site of the ship wreck to help save their fellow passengers.  As history unfortunately tells us, they are already too late.  The 700 survivors have front row seats to watch more than 1,500 of their friends and loved ones freeze to death.

Despite depicting this harsh truth, Titanic has a certain sentimentality that's often seen in Steven Spielberg's films.  The old school melodrama and the bombastic score are often elements of a Spielberg film that work quite well here for James Cameron.  By making the film more personal to Rose and her romance with Jack, Cameron manages to give the film a certain lighthearted charm during its first half.  He had some help though from Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.  In their time on screen together, the two co-stars share a magnetic chemistry that's rarely seen in movies.    Their romance literally carries the film until we get to the reason everyone watches the movie in the first placeā€”the Titanic's sinking.  The two lovers add the right amount of cheer to this disaster flick of epic proportions.

No review of a James Cameron film would be complete without talking about special effects.  Once again, Cameron outdoes himself with jaw-dropping effects, for the era.  When Cameron made the film, the RMS Titanic had been at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for nearly 85 years.  All he had were photos and other people's memories of the famed vessel.  To bring arguably the most well-known ship in the world back to life is a stunning technical feat, especially given that the film was made in 1997.  To top that off, Cameron has to then recreate the shipwreck, and sinking the Titanic is probably an even greater challenge.  Despite this, Cameron manages to turn the ship of dreams into a cinematic dream come true.

With Titanic, James Cameron has put something really special together.  There is no other film quite like it.  The film is magical and enchanting at first but then turns into something much more gripping and compelling altogether.  My only quip with the film would be that the band is playing as the ship goes down.  They should be trying to survive.  I don't take this too seriously though because I wouldn't mind one last tune if I knew it was my time.  All in all, Titanic is a once-in-a-lifetime film that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster if you let it.  The film is unbelievably long but incredibly worthwhile.  Titanic gets a sober rating.  Don't drink too much water during this one or you'll have to take a bathroom break or two.