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Non-Review Review: Titanic (3D)

James Cameron’s Titanic is still a breath-taking production, even sixteen years after the fact. Sure, its huge budget and even bigger box office returns, coupled with its enormous pop culture impact, have all combined to make it a bit of a target for movie critics in the years following its initial release. To be honest, while I wouldn’t rank it as anywhere near Cameron’s finest accomplishment, I’ve always admired it for what it was: a romantic historical epic, perhaps the most recent film like that which Hollywood has produced. Even a decade and a half later, Titanic remains one hell of spectacle and a well-constructed piece of cinema, with Cameron displaying a mastery of form and an innate skill for story-telling. Couple with the best post-conversion 3D that I have ever seen, there’s no reason for anybody with a genuine interest in the film to stay away from the big re-release.

Her heart will... go on, finish it...

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That One Scene…

You know the one I’m talking about. It’s the one scene in a bad movie that really got you, that managed to suggest that maybe there was a bit more to the film than met the eye. If it came towards the start of the film, it probably built up expectations that the finished product couldn’t meet. If it appeared in the middle, it made sure that you didn’t quite nod off towards the end. If it closed out the movie, you probably left feeling more satisfied with the movie-going experience than you really should. Often, however, these sequences are just frustrating because they just end up teasing what could have been.

Mauled by critics...

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A Long Time Ago: The Star Wars Prequels Did Not Ruin Your Childhood…

This weekend, Fox are beginning their process of re-releasing Star Wars into cinema, converted into 3D. I’m fairly agnostic on the idea. I like the idea of eventually being able to see The Empire Strikes Back again in the cinema,but I’m withholding judgment until I see the post-conversion 3D in action. Part of me does think that it’s a mistake to begin with Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, if only because it’s the weakest entry in the franchise. I would have liked to see the re-release following the original release order. Still, the fact that the franchise is once again invading theatres seems to have stirred up a lot of underlying resentment, from the core fans who seem to have been struggling with Lucas’ three prequel films – many claiming that the writer and director’s decision to revisit the franchise has retroactively ruined their childhood viewing experiences. It seems that, to fans, the original trilogy are almost tarred by association.

To be entirely honest, it’s hard to take this argument in any way seriously.

Feel the power of the dark side...

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Non-Review Review: Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace (3D)

In 1999, after decades of anticipation, George Lucas unleashed Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The response was… less than enthusiastic. After years of heightened anticipation, during which the original trilogy had been built up to near mythical status, anything less than the second coming was going to disappoint viewers. I think it is reasonable to say that The Phantom Menace fell well short of that particular target. That said, I’ve always felt a bit of sympathy for the first of the prequel trilogy. Not enough to label it as a good film (it really isn’t), but enough to argue that the fairly fundamental and central flaws do mask a number of virtues. Those virtues don’t quite redeem the film, but they do make the end result a lot more fascinating than most would concede it to be.

Schindler’s miffed…

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Sympathy for the Devil, or at Least Understanding for George Lucas…

Next week, George Lucas will release his complete six Star Wars movies on blu ray. Truth be told, I’m not sure that I’ll buy them. This isn’t a note of protest against the director’s seemingly incessant tinkering with the movies that helped define a generation, but just one of indifference. The franchise doesn’t feel essential any more, even though I can’t exactly put my finger on why, but I can’t help but feel that – were I to buy the complete set – I wouldn’t be getting the iconic films that marked a collective cultural experience, but George Lucas’ heavily revised notes on those films, which is something quite different. That said, I can’t bring myself to spew the type of vitriol at Lucas that most on-line fans seem to enjoy producing, if only because I can almost respect what Lucas is attempting to do.

Whatever happened to light entertainment...?

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Is a Film Ever “Done” These Days?

I was reading last week about how George Lucas is planning yet another re-release of Star Wars in 2012. This time in glorious 3D. Glorious post-conversion 3D. Yes, that was sarcasm. It’s interesting that Lucas continues to push for editing and updating the saga, especially considering his earlier position on updating existing films (in this case arguing against converting black & white films to colour): 

“I am very concerned about our national heritage, and I am very concerned that the films that I watched when I was young and the films that I watched throughout my life are preserved, so that my children can see them,” he said. He furthermore remarked: “In the future it will become easier for old negatives to become lost and be ‘replaced’ by new altered negatives. This would be a great loss to our society. Our cultural history must not be allowed to be rewritten.” 

And yet, he has repeatedly demonstrated over the past decade or so that he is devoted to rewriting his version of Star Wars, arguing that it is simply never complete – he’s moving it closer to complete with every update. In this era of directors’ cuts and special extended editions, is becoming commonplace to accept that the theatrical release of a film isn’t the “finished” or “completed” version. 

The infamous "everyone rocks out" deleted scene...

 

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