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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Titanic (4K UHD Review)


The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements


A star-crossed love story between two teenagers -- a starving artist and an aristocratic girl engaged to a controlling man she doesn't love -- plays out against the backdrop of the tragedy of the Titanic.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Before James Cameron’s Avatar came along to become the number one grossing film world wide in history, he first  obtained that title with his $200 million budgeted Titanic. What seemed to be quickly turning into a disastrous sinking ship of lost profits quickly became the toast of the town once it hit theatres, started raking in the big bucks at the box office, and garnering critical praise. While Cameron was and still is not exactly known for his great screenwriting and complex storytelling, what he is known for is being at the cutting edge of visual effects and, to paraphrase The Beatles, guaranteeing a splendid time for all.

So how do you do that with a story about the Titanic when everybody already knows how it ends? Well, you cast two beautiful young actors, Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar; Inception; The Aviator) and Kate Winslet (Contagion; Carnage; TV’s Mildred Pierce), in the leads, to play two fictional star-crossed lovers aboard the ill-fated luxury liner, give the audience the kind of sugary-sweet love story that teenaged girls swoon over, pack the screen full of eye-popping visuals, and for the grand finale, give everyone the most spectacular recreation of the Titanic sinking ever put on film, A Night to Remember notwithstanding.

Cameron delivers on all counts, and he delivers in abundance. DiCaprio is the weakest link here, delivering one of his weakest performances, but for the ladies, he is just the right eye candy to fill the space for the unlikely love story. He plays Jack Dawson, a poor third-class passenger and artist who meets the well-bred, well-to-do Rose (Winslet) when he keeps her from jumping overboard. She is depressed about being in a loveless engagement with a controlling millionaire (Billy Zane). The two quickly fall in love under the noses of Rose’s mother, her fiancé, and her fiancé’s security man. Rose plans to disembark in America with Jack, leaving her life of riches behind to live happily ever after with the newfound love of her life, this struggling artist. Ah, but, alas, their love is destined for bumpy sailing because soon the Titanic shall hit the infamous iceberg that sinks her. It is when the sappy love story ends and the ship begins to sink that the film really picks up, although some of the choices that are made in the story (not to give away what little can be given away) still seem trite and unbelievable given the circumstances.

  • Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997)
  • Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic (1997)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997)
  • Titanic Collector's Edition (Paramount)
  • Titanic Collector's Edition (Paramount)
  • Titanic Collector's Edition (Paramount)
  • Titanic 4K Ultra HD + Digital (Paramount)
  • Titanic 4K Ultra HD + Digital (Paramount)

The Video

The slow speed Eastman EXR 50D 5245 and fast speed Kodak Vision 500T 5279 35mm film stocks were mastered with a 4K digital intermediate and remastered with Dolby Vision, presented on 4K Ultra HD from Paramount in a 2.40:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision encodement.

The film has never looked as crisp and detailed on home video as it does on this release. The opening scenes with Bill Paxton and his crew’s underwater expedition to explore the Titanic shows so much sharpness and texture in the faces and on clothing, with excellent contrasts, black levels, and highlights. Switching to the past and the main story between Rose and Jack, the color palette switches to a warmer look, everything is aglow, and the textures and edges do not ring quite as much as in those scenes of ‘the present,’ but they look no less detailed. In the scene where Jack does the nude sketch of Rose in her cabin, one can see without any strain the small, soft body hairs on Kate Winslet’s face. The Dolby Vision grading is really good as well, with good sparkle in the reflection on surfaces, the extended color gradients, and superb colors. Rose’s hair stands out, the amber glow of the lamps on the ship and the gilded dining room look dazzling.

The Audio

The lossless 5.1 mix for the earlier release of this film on Blu-ray was excellent and this Atmos mix is no slouch either. The sweeping score is even more open, airy, and dynamic with the overhead channels supplying lush ambience and atmospherics. The low-end rumbles appropriately when the scenes cut to the ship’s propellor or when the infamous iceberg hits. The dialogue is clear and intelligible.

The Supplements

This particular, standard edition 4K release does not come with anything new for collectors who already own previous Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D versions of this film, but it is still a hefty amount of bonus features especially if this is your first time buying this film.

Bonus Features:

  • Digital Copy Code
  • Director Commentary by James Cameron (2005)
  • Cast and Crew Commentary (2005)
  • Historical Commentary by Don Lynch and Ken Marschall (2005)

Blu-ray Bonus Features Disc:

  • Documentaries:
    • Titanic: Stories from the Heart (1080p; 00:35:58)
    • Reflections on Titanic (1080i; 01:03:46)
    • Titanic: 25 Years Later with James Cameron (1080p; 00:42:06)
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by James Cameron (2005) (1080p; 00:57:28)
  • Production:
    • Behind-the-Scenes Presentation Hosted by Jon Landau (1080p; 00:34:13)
    • Additional Behind the Scenes (SD; 00:34:54)
    • Deep-Dive Presentation Narrated by James Cameron (SD; 00:15:31)
    • $200,000,001: A Ship’s Odyssey (The Titanic Crew Video) (SD; 00:17:54)
    • Videomatics (SD; 00:03:14)
    • Visual Effects (SD; 00:07:46)
  • Archives:
    • Trailer Presentation Hosted by Jon Landau (1080p; 00:08:16)
    • Music Video “My heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion (SD; 00:04:45)
    • Still Galleries
    • Credits (2005) (1080p)

There is also a Limited-Edition Collector’s Boxed Set available that includes all of the above along with the following exclusive collectibles in an elegant slipcase:

  • A hardcover coffee table book detailing the making of the film’s most iconic scenes
  • A detailed schematic inspired by the actual ship blueprint, highlighting locations of key scenes 
  • Movie prop reproductions of a boarding pass, launch viewing ticket, ship menus, and notes from Jack to Rose and Rose to Cal
  • Sheet music for the multi-award-winning hit “My Heart Will Go 

The Final Assessment

A classic epic romantic drama set against the backdrop of the tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic looks and sounds better than it ever has on home video on this 4K Ultra HD release from Paramount. For fans of this film, buying this is a no-brainer.

Titanic is out on 4K Ultra HD + Digital December 5, 2023, from Paramount Home Entertainment. A 4K Ultra HD Collector’s Edition is also available December 5, 2023.

  • Rating Certificate: PG-13 (for disaster related peril and violence, nudity, sensuality and brief language)
  • Studios & Distributors: Twentieth Century Fox | Paramount Pictures | Lightstorm Entertainment | Baja Studios | Paramount Home Entertainment
  • Director: James Cameron
  • Written By: James Cameron
  • Run Time: 194 Mins.
  • Street Date: 5 December 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
  • Primary Audio: English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Compatible)
  • Secondary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo | English Descriptive Audio DD 5.1 | French DD 5.1 | Spanish DD 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH | French | Spanish

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A star-crossed love story between two teenagers -- a starving artist and an aristocratic girl engaged to a controlling man she doesn't love -- plays out against the backdrop of the tragedy of the Titanic.Titanic (4K UHD Review)