It’s not that I’m just a guy who has to have explosions and karate fights and high speed chases. I’m not. In the eighties I saw ET at the theater six times. Every time ET tapped on Elliot’s chest and said “I’ll be right here’ I cried. Every time. (I’m crying right now. No not really.) Casablanca. When Rick lets the Polish couple win at roulette I tear up. Every time. So this problem with Titanic is not just a guy thing.
I saw an episode of Seinfeld recently where people kept raving to Elaine about The English Patient, kept dragging her to see it. Finally she couldn’t take it anymore. She stood up and screamed at the screen, “Just die already.” That’s how I felt about Titanic. Okay here’s a spoiler alert (as if you didn’t already know what happens). When Jack’s cold lifeless body slipped below the waves… Well maybe I did tear up a bit. That was a long time ago. But I like to think that instead of crying I just rolled my eyes as if to say ‘Oh please.’
Because here’s the thing. James Cameron movies are more about spectacle than narrative. They’re more about technology than character, more grand epic than storytelling. When it comes down to it I think they are supposed to be about James Cameron. You find yourself more marveling at the effects than following the story. And you never connect with the characters.
And that’s what has to happen if the movie is going to get you. You have to connect. It has to be personal.
Now I’m willing to admit that Titanic is a pretty good movie. It’s just not THAT good.