Blu-ray Review: Titanic (1997)

Titanic Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Paramount | DIRECTOR: James Cameron | CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Bill Paxton, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 9/10/2012 | PRICE: DVD $29.99, Four-Disc Blu-ray $39.99, Four-Disc Blu-ray 3D $44.99
BONUSES: documentaries, commentaries, deleted scenes, music video, trailers, TV spots, stills galleries, parodies
SPECS: PG-13 | 194 min. | Romance | widescreen | DTS-HD audio | English, French, Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

TitanicGiven director James Cameron’s (The Terminator) reputation for attention to detail filmmaking, its no surprise that Titanic looks fantastic in its high-definition Blu-ray debut. The film, the second highest-grossing movie to date behind Cameron’s own Avatar (as of this writing), looked wonderful on DVD, but with this Blu-ray, the audio and video is definitely improved.

The high-definition picture is clear and bright, with every chip of ice noticeable in the hair of Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception) and Kate Winslet (Mildred Pierce). The color is deep and saturated, and the sound has just as much muscle to match, with the low rumble of the ship giving some good bass.

The movie is the same romance that viewers enjoyed again and again and again when it was in theaters. Romeo and Juliet on the doomed ship, as Cameron described it to studio executives. “It was the quickest pitch I’ve ever had,” the director says in one of the new special features on the Blu-ray, the documentary “Reflections on Titanic.”

The winner of a whopping 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Titanic made household names of stars DiCaprio and Winslet, and Winslet remembers their time on the set in the documentary. Although DiCaprio is absent in new interviews, Winslet is joined by plenty of other actors, including Bill Paxton (Hatfields & McCoys), Kathy Bates (Midnight in Paris) and Billy Zane (Mama, I Want to Sing).

The documentary also features Cameron, natch, producer Jon Landau, composer James Horner and plenty of others remembering the mammoth production of the film. Cameron and company go into detail about the vast sets that were built, the cold temperature of the water, the casting, screenings, the aftermath of the film’s release and the impact of that song. Cameron even gives some advice to filmmakers who win an Oscar: “Don’t quote your own film,” talking about how he held up his statue and shouted “I’m king of the world” — humility is the better way to go, he explains.

The four-part doc is well-produced with good flow and interesting tidbits. There’s some overlap with older extras from the DVD, but all in all, the documentary is a good addition to the Titanic stable.

The other new special feature is the also long but equally as interesting “Titanic: The Final Word With James Cameron” documentary. In it, Cameron and a team of Titanic and nautical engineering experts forensically go through underwater footage, eyewitness accounts and more and try to come up with exactly, moment to moment, what happened after the doomed ship hit the iceburg. It’s quite fascinating, if maybe a bit much for those viewers not all that invested in the how. The team asks how specific parts of the ship ended up where they did on the sea floor and figure out that some of what they showed in the film wasn’t completely accurate but close.

Although “Reflections on Titanic” and “Titanic: The Final Word With James Cameron” are the only new bonuses on the Blu-ray, the four-disc set (two Blu-rays with the high-def film and extras, plus two DVDs with the movie in standard-definition in two parts) also contains all the extras from the 2005 Special Collector’s Edition DVD, including three commentary tracks with Cameron, the cast and crew and Titanic historians.

Those commentaries as well as the horde of 60 production featurettes, the 30 deleted scenes (with or without commentary from Cameron), stills galleries and lots more from the DVD have all been upgraded to high-def for inclusion in this set. And they’re all worthy of being repeated here, so we have no complaints.

If you’re one of the movie’s legions of fans, you probably already have it on DVD. But even if you haven’t worn out your disc with repeat viewings yet, this Blu-ray is worth the upgrade.

Buy or Rent Titanic (1997)
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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.