Movie Review — Titanic

Is there any movie more touching and exciting than Titanic? And the first time you watch it, it’s completely unexpected. I didn’t even want to see this in the theater, and resisted for months. Fool that I am, I figured, “Yeah, it sinks. I know what happens. Why see it?

I was never so glad to be so wrong. The hype was deserved. The small, interpersonal story is so damn good you even forget the ship is going down forever, that thousands of people will die in sub-freezing water for no other reason than White Star Lines’ vanity. Man, I sobbed for the entire final act at my first viewing. Some scenes — like seeing the old couple, terrified, holding each other in bed as the waters rise — still make the tears flow. And I hold my breath as Rose and Jack do on the far stern, when they are sucked into the ocean. (We’ll just call that my 4D interactive experience. I do this in The Abyss too.)

The heart of the story is Rose and Jack: actors DiCaprio and Winslet exhibit charming charisma, chemistry, and commitment to their forbidden inter-class love affair.

The sparkling James Horner soundtrack helps, as well as the indelible visuals of the gigantic, “unsinkable” ship. The big screen viewing’s sense of scale draws you right now. DVDs don’t do it justice.

Bill Paxton’s framing story adds the perfect storytelling device, bridging past and present in a poignant way, making the heroes, villains, and tragic deaths more meaningfully real. The old decayed ship on the sea floor morphs into the Ship of Dreams, where the “the china had never been used. The sheets had never been slept in. ” You just get chills. It’s a storytelling triumph: James Cameron went to extraordinary lengths (and expense) to film the actual submerged remains, bringing us to that forbidding, painful, fascinating setting.

This sh!t happened. A cascade of small mistakes, human hubris, and major design oversights led to over 1500 people dying horribly, unnecessarily, in the far North Pacific on April 15, 1912.

Through the fabulous medium of movies, at their best, you get to feel and care for real history, even if the two main characters here are fictional. I love this movie so much that I now devour any books, movies, or museum exhibits on the Titanic. Yes, I do.

Does this movie need RunPee? Um, do sharks swim? YES. It’s really really really long. Loooooong. So long that it needs two DVDs to play on a home theater. If Titanic came out now, we’d probably have to have four or more Peetimes…a human bladder can only go so long. (But my heart will go on…)

Movie Grade – A+

Movie Review – The Terminator

The Terminator is one of the truly perfect films in the science fiction genre. Sure, there are temporal paradox/causality loop issues, but you have to handwave that and go along with the premise. And why not? If you’re going to tell a time travel story about what happens when the singularity occurs — and it turns out AI cyborgs decide to eradicate Man — it doesn’t get better than this. Argue all you like, Asimov fans. 😉

This is heart-pounding action with a bit of sweet, wistful romance, some humor, magnificent chase scenes, a great urban 1980s setting, fatal mistakes by a rookie Sarah Connor, sardonic wisdom from the young, war-hardened time traveler, and a really scary unstoppable killing machine.

Everyone showed a spirited commitment to their unlikely roles. There are some interesting early ‘cameos’, like Bill Paxton as a young punk. I still have a crush on Michael Biehn’s Kyle Reese (who played the equally awesome but essentially same character in the fantastically-scary-but-delicious Aliens film), and Linda Hamilton will always be my Sarah Connor. Finally, Arnold, as the Terminator, was a revelation (his entire acting and subsequent political career really kicked off right here).

Some lines might be hokey to modern ears, but I love it all, after all this time, and quote them in daily life. (Here’s three quotes, offhand: “Come with me if you want to live.” “That’s what he does! That’s ALL he does!… And he absolutely will not stop…ever, until you are dead!” And, of course, “I’ll be back.” Duh.)

There’s also an interestingly mechanized score by Brad Fiedel, with the subtle thrumming theme of the Terminator lingering as an iconic sound, recognizable through the entire franchise. (We can debate the various merits of the other Terminator movies/TV shows in the comments section below.)

When the exoskeletal version of the T-800 rises from the flames, it’s a horrifying moment. (Although, if you were aware at all of James Cameron movies, you would expect his signature ‘fake-out’ endings. But hey, they do work.) The scene where a wounded Sarah kills the crawling death robot is gripping, chilling, and deeply satisfying. (“You’re terminated, f@cker.” Yeah.)

The final moment in Mexico is superbly understated, ominous, frightening, and strangely hopeful. “There’s a storm coming.” “I know.” And now I have goosebumps. An enduring film, worthy of RunPee’s Classic Movie Hits List.

Movie Grade – A+

Movie Review – The Circle

Grade – C+ (a little bit above average)

Imagine if Facebook and Google got married, had a monster-child, and named it Circle. There you have it. Could this really happen? Yes indeed, and to take that one step further, I’ll wager that there’s a monster-child already gestating out there in cyber space.

The Circle had a star studded cast, but if you’re going only because Tom Hanks is in it, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Hanks has about 10 minutes of screen time; he delivers his few lines nicely, disappears for fifteen or twenty minutes, then shows back up to deliver more nice lines. Emma Watson does keep us pretty much entertained throughout the movie, but the real kudos goes to Glenne Headly and the late Bill Paxton. No one in Hollywood will ever be able to shout obscenities the way you did, Bill.

I’m a big fan of Dave Eggers, and his book *A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius* has been in my top 20 books since I read it when it first came out. I think it would have made a better movie than The Circle, but that’s only my opinion, for what it’s worth.