History Channel // 2011 // 45 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // September 8th, 2012
100 years of the past uncovered by the future.
Titanic: 100 Years in 3D does not star Leonardo DiCaprio nor was it directed by James Cameron. Let's get that out of the way, just in case you were mildly confused. No one is painted in the nude. Nobody gets to say, "I'm king of the world!" A ship does sink, just not nearly as spectacularly as in the 1997 film of the same name. This is a straight-on documentary about the sinking of the mammoth ocean liner and the new 3D technology used to capture the images in the film.
What can be said about Titanic and its fatal voyage that hasn't already been said a million times before? The story of the "big ship that couldn't" has been recounted well over a hundred times in books, films, documentaries, and even video games. It's a story that's captured the imagination, horror, and hearts of people all across the world. One hundred years on, the narrative of the Titanic reminds us that no matter what man can build, Mother Nature and our own hubris can easily take it down with one well placed iceberg.
Titanic: 100 Years in 3D is a forty five minute documentary (which includes both 2D and 3D versions on the same disc) that focuses (mostly) on the oft told tale of the Titanic's sinking. Almost all of the requisite beats are hit: the various passengers aboard the ship, the eventual meeting with the iceberg, the scramble to get people into too few lifeboats, and the tragic deaths of hundreds of poor and rich passengers alike who wouldn't escape the sea's icy grip.
This History Channel exclusive, while interesting enough to hold your attention, feels ultimately perfunctory. Do we really need yet another documentary with talking head interviews, footage of the wreck, and another variation on the history of the Titanic's final moments? I'd argue the answer is "not really." The whole reason this documentary exists is to show off some new three dimensional technology used in mapping the Titanic wreck site over two and a half miles deep. The problem with the footage in Titanic: 100 Years in 3D is that it's so murky that the 3D effects are hardly worth the bother. What fans are left with is a story that has been so exhaustively researched and documented (in better movies, to boot) that it feels as warranted as another Star Wars prequel.
The footage of the wreck is eerie but not very enthralling. We get to see portholes, debris, and places where the iceberg hit, which often lead to flashbacks about what happened on the ship (including voice overs based on real life journal musings from Titanic survivors). That's all well and good, but the presentation is so brief it skims over almost every major event to befall the ship. Beginning with Titanic's maiden voyage on through the final screams of the freezing ocean bound passengers, everything here we've seen before, just not as well produced or executed.
Presented in 1.78:1/1080p high definition widescreen, this is a very attractive transfer that features decent but limited special effects, a nearly crystal clear image, and colors/black levels which are all well rendered. I make no bones about not being a 3D fan, and this movie does people like me no favors with its lackluster effects. Also included on this disc is a 1080p standard 2D Blu-ray version of the film, the disc automatically knowing which to play depending on your setup. There isn't a lot of punch to this Dolby 5.1 Surround mix. Music is the main surround sound effect, aside of some small ambient noises. Considering this isn't the most riveting (or extensive) of documentaries, an aggressive sound mix isn't needed or missed. Also included are English, Spanish, German, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, and Swedish subtitles. There are no extras.
In the end, it's hard to recommend Titanic: 100 Years in 3D as anything more than a curiosity rental. It's interesting enough to hold your attention for forty five minutes, but the film doesn't lend itself to any replay value. For that, be sure to check out James Cameron's far better version.
A decent rental and little else.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 45 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* 2D Version