In Canada, Titanic (blu ray) comes in three flavours: 1) Four disc 3D combo: two BD-50 discs dedicated to the entire 3D version, one BD-50 disc for the 2D version and one blu ray disc for Special Features, with Digital Copy. No standard DVD. 2) Four disc 2D combo: one BD-50 for the 2D version of movie, and second BD-50 for Special Features, and the remaining 2 discs being standard DVD dedicated to the standard version of the movie. 3) Two disc Blu Ray/DVD combo with Digital Copy: one Blu ray disc and one standard DVD (but also has the highest price)! In the 4 disc set, all four discs sit on flipper plates inside a slightly thicker than normal blue keepcase and accompanied by a glossy slipcover with lightly embossed lettering. All these packages are beamed with tons of bonus features, including 2.5 hours of new bonus content, that would keep me delightfully entertained for hours.
In the United States, there is an additonal Amazon.com exclusive Collector’s Edition box set, consisting of 2 3D blu ray discs and 2 2D blu ray discs, plus souvenir book, passenger dossier, sketch postcards, etc., housed in a big box, resembling the RMS Titanic. By the time one pays shipping and custom duty, the final cost will be around US$100….a little too steep for even frivolous spender like myself. But now, it is even out of stock on Amazon.com. I did enquire at Amazon.ca for its availability in Canada, but was politely told that this will not be available in Canada. Too bad!
Apart from 3D vs 2D, the major difference in video is that in 3D, it was 1.78:1 while 2D, it was a wonderful 2.35:1. I know that James Cameron personally preferred the smaller 1.78:1 aspect ratio (like Avatar). But for such a grandiose presentation, the wow factor is increased with 2.35:1 aspect ratio, especially for people with anamorphic lens (constant height imaging), plus filling up my entire 12 foot wide screen.
Titanic was not originally filmed in 3D, like Avatar. Considering James Cameron is one of the leading pioneers of this latest filmmaking trend and this is also one of his biggest sellers, I am not all that surprised he would place a personal investment and take enormously great care to ensure the best possible high-def transfer, presented in its open matte aspect ratio of 1.78:1 for the first time on home video. The final result is that Titanic 3D is definitely the best 3D conversion of a catalog title ever.
This presentation is not about gimmick effects or astounding audiences with cool camera tricks. It is about immersing viewers and pulling them further into the world of the "Ship of Dreams," creating a sense of almost being there. And on that front, the movie succeeds like a charm. From the moment it commences, we instantly notice the incredible amount of depth and feel as if characters on screen move within a genuine three-dimensional space. The background penetrates deep into the screen, making the hallways and promenade decks feel elongated and far beyond our distance. Whether watching Rose suffer another mindless sit-down chat with snobs or Jack sneaks about in the back, separation of the foreground is sharp and pristine, giving viewers a wonderful pop-up book effect on several occasions. The exterior of the ship and all the interior rooms appear immense and spacious as characters walk around independently of their surroundings.
This high-def video is richly saturated with a wide range display of colours, from lush, vibrant primaries to warm, full-bodied secondary hues which bring Russell Carpenter's cinematography to life. Facial complexions appear natural with astounding lifelike textures. Contrast is pitch-perfect with crisp, brilliant whites that add for some highly impressive moments of clarity while black levels remain luxurious and sumptuous with deep penetrating shadows. Definition is razor-sharp and highly-detailed, allowing audiences to fully appreciate the tremendous amount of work and time that was put into the film's making. We can clearly make out the individual stitching and threading of the costumes, practically count each rivet holding the ship together, scrutinize the detailed, ornate woodwork of the grand staircase, and be amazed by the intricate details of the decorations on walls.
All the above happens, even when we are wearing those 3D dark glasses! (5/5)
Titanic (2D) splashes onto blu ray with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 2.35:1 encode. It was the same ratio as in the theatrical run. James Cameron also took great care in restoring this classic to its original glory. There is simply no comparison to all previous releases. All the above description in the 3D version is now simply more open, without the dark glasses, and with the video filling up the entire screen (2.35:1), making the final result much more spectacular and more alive. Here we trade the more immersive experience with 3D versus the more spectacular presentation of the video in 2D. Details are razor-sharp with great contrast. One can tell by simply just watching how sharp the word title Titanic on the screen. Colours are vibrant and warm. Skin tones are natural. Blacks are inky and deep. This really gives a completely refreshingly new video presentation on home video. (5+/5)
Both 3D and 2D versions have the same DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless tracks. I am very familiar with James Horner’s amazing soundtrack. I even bought and enjoyed the recent 4 CD release of the Titanic soundtrack. (my review elsewhere). It starts off very subtle and understated, but it grows with the narrative into something quite spectacular and engaging. It is as if deliberately broken into two parts, much like the story itself, between a guided tour of the ship and its thrilling sinking.
For the first half, the movie is very front-heavy, with voices very detailed and precise in the center, and channel separation is well-balanced. For the second half, the entire sound system suddenly comes alive with thrills and excitement, beginning with some mild directionality soon after the ship crashes with the iceberg. When the ship starts to take in lots of water, the rears display the loud cracks of wood and the bending of steel with enthralling discrete clarity. In the final moments, the screams of people, the splashing of watering and the death moans of the "Ship of Dreams" fills the entire room and envelopes the listening area.
This first half of the film is an interestingly restrained design, but the second half offers an engrossing aural experience. Of course, hearing our Celine Dion singing the heart-wrenching My Heart Will Go On is like icing on the cake, bringing this wonderful soundtrack to its conclusion. (5/5)
In 1998, Titanic won 11 Oscars:
01 Best Picture (James Cameron, Jon Landau)
02 Best Director (James Cameron)
03 Best Cinematography (Russell Carpenter)
04 Best Music Score (James Horner)
05 Best Original Song (James Horner and Will Jennings) for My Heart Will Go On
06 Best Art Direction
07 Best Costume Design (Deborah Lynn Scott)
08 Best Sound Effects Editing
09 Best Visual Effects
10 Best Film Editing
11 Best Sound
Titanic was also nominated for 3 Oscars:
01 Best Actress (Kate Winslet)
02 Best Supporting Actress (Gloria Stuart)
03 Best Make-Up
Titanic has an estimated budget of $200 million, and it grossed worldwide $2,185 million, second only to James Cameron’s own Avatar ($2,781 million).
I still remember the first time when Titanic opened in theatres in Toronto, at the time when theatres in Toronto started Big Picture, Big Sound. This is one of the few pictures that I went to the Coloseum in Mississauga to watch this twice, and cried every time. I am so grateful that this high definition transfer is top-notched and did not disappoint at all. But, the 3D version is the genuine surprise. I have low expectation of post-movie 2D-3D conversion, like Clash of the Titans. But this 3D is simply wonderful and natural, so immersive in experience that makes you feel like that you are actually there on the ship. James Horner’s soundtrack of course is also fantastic, and with a clear dialogue, bringing us deeper into this Ship of Dreams. Tears will simply be overflowing when Dicaprio finished his heart-warming dialogue to Winslet, and then sank deep into the ocean bottom. The whole story is very simple, but very effective and touching.
If you have 3D system, the 3D version presents a new experience and new appreciation of this movie. Thanks to James Cameron for putting the 3D video onto 2 discs. But don't be disappointed if you only have a 2D system. The 2D video with a wider screen is my preferred choice. The above set is definitely very highly recommended, and is a must-own. I hope the Collector’s box set will eventually be available on Amazon.ca…I wish!
Lastly, a few words after pricing: for block-buster releases, the price usually drops prior to releases. Just watch the prices carefully. In this case, the initial price was $32.99, then it went up to $34.99, and finally settled at $27.99…unfortunately, after release, the price has gone back up to $32.99…still a great value for a 3D release.
I hope the above review is helpful to you.