Titanic (1997) 4K Blu-ray Review

James Cameron's classic romance disaster Titanic receives a modest makeover for its 4K debut on Blu-ray. Join us as we take a look.

Published
Updated
Producer / Publisher: Disney
5 minutes & 6 seconds read time
TweakTown's Rating: 91%
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The Bottom Line

Titanic is a true modern classic, and it's been treated with the care and attention that it's due.

Pros

  • + A nicely remastered 4K transfer and new Dolby Atmos audio mix shows the film at its best
  • + A huge quantity of bonus features will keep fans entertained for many hours

Cons

  • - Bonus features occasionally lack depth

Should you buy it?

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Titanic (1997) 4K Blu-ray Review 99

Titanic 4K Blu-ray Review

It's hard to imagine now, but before Titanic's theatrical premiere in December 1997, critics were anticipating - perhaps even wanting - the film to be a disaster that reflected the numerous tales of behind-the-scenes chaos. Amid accusations of punishing on-set behavior, Cameron's unrelenting standards blew out the production budget by almost $100 million and delayed the release by six months. Fearing a budget debacle mirroring that of Waterworld two years prior, Twentieth Century Fox hedged their bets by partnering with Paramount Pictures to minimize their potential liability, should the film sink at the box office (pun intended).

Fox would, of course, rue this decision when the film went on to become the highest-grossing film of all time, with a $1.8 Billion haul only bested by Cameron's Avatar over a decade later. The 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture at the 1998 awards ceremony, ensured that just like the real-life event it dramatizes, Titanic's position in the annals of history was secured.

Titanic (1997) 4K Blu-ray Review 01

When naval scavenger Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) leads an unsuccessful expedition to recover a priceless jewel from the wreck of the RMS Titanic, a water-logged portrait of a mysterious woman (Kate Winslet) unknowingly thrusts him into an 84-year-old forbidden romance. When nomadic artist Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) wins a one-way ticket on Titanic, he falls in love with the beautiful Rose Dewitt Bukater, who's engaged to marry wealthy magnate Cal Hockley (Billy Zane). But the affair becomes a battle of survival when the ship strikes an iceberg in the frigid North Atlantic and rapidly begins to sink, with lifeboats for less than half of the passengers on board.

While some may point to the ridiculously over-exposed Celine Dion power ballad 'My Heart Will Go On', some of the film's admittedly weak dialogue or just seek to pull it down in a form of tall poppy syndrome, the truth is that Titanic is a true modern classic which holds up extremely well some 25 years later. It continues to captivate new generations with its simple yet ultimately tragic love story, compelling performances from its key and supporting cast, and strong visuals accented by Cameron's demanding attention to detail, allowing the film to age gracefully.

Video transfer

Titanic is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in the Rec. 2020 color space with HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR and encoded with AVC H.265 compression.

A far cry from the film's lackluster DVD premiere in 1999, Titanic has been very well served in recent times, no doubt assisted by the various successful 3D, IMAX, and Dolby Cinema theatrical re-releases that the film has enjoyed. For the film's debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray, the studio has returned to 4K scans of the original camera negative and various interpositive elements, re-assembling and remastering them into a fresh 4K digital intermediate. The result is a sharp and detailed image that competes with the most technically proficient, digitally shot films made today.

For this release and somewhat controversially in technical circles, Titanic has also been subject to deep-learning algorithmic remastering, courtesy of Peter Jackson's Park Road Post studios. According to the studio, this was employed on a shot-by-shot basis to minimize film grain and video noise and sharpen and stabilize the image throughout. Unlike its use on James Cameron's Aliens and True Lies Ultra HD Blu-rays (reviews of which will be coming to TweakTown soon), its use here is relatively restrained thanks to the superior film elements on hand. However, if you look hard enough, tell-tale artifacts such as overtly sharpened edges and fringing are occasionally visible.

Overall, while some may be disappointed by the judicious use of technology which makes Titanic betray some of its filmic origins, I suspect most fans will be pleased with the clear and defined image that gives it the edge over previous Blu-ray and DVD releases of the past.

Titanic (1997) 4K Blu-ray Review 02

Audio transfer

Titanic is presented with a newly remixed Dolby Atmos soundtrack, encoded at 24 bits.

While Titanic has always enjoyed an energetic and immersive 5.1 mix courtesy of legendary Hollywood sound mixer Gary Rydstrom, the film's 4K debut takes things up a notch with the inclusion of added height surround information and a little more aggressive channel separation. There's little to complain about (or cause controversy) here and a lot to enjoy as the film makes its presence known right from the get-go, with James Horner's moody and propulsive score often taking center stage. The front sound stage supports the film's emotional core ably well, with the surround channels rarely calling attention to themselves but gently enveloping the listener deeper into the unfolding drama. The bass channel is bold and powerful when called for.

Without a doubt, this is a demo-worthy track that will doubtfully be surpassed in the coming years.

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Bonus materials

To the studio's credit, not only are Titanic's collection of new and returning bonus features generous, but new effort has been expended to present much of the vintage content in a more welcoming and comprehensive manner. Let's jump into some of the highlights.

New to this release is the 35-minute long Titanic: Stories from the Heart documentary, which features newly recorded interviews from key cast and crew, including James Cameron, Kate Winslet, and Jon Landau. As far as such documentaries go, this leans far more into studio-approved territory than I perhaps would like, with several obviously rose-tinted anecdotes offered, but coupled with the 2012 produced Reflections on Titanic documentary that makes a return, both serve as a decent look behind the scenes of the mammoth production.

Those who enjoy audio commentaries have been blessed by a total of three full-length tracks, the first provided by Director James Cameron, the second by Titanic Historians Don Lynch and Ken Marschall, and a third featuring edited contributions from various cast and crew. All were originally recorded for the lavish special edition DVD in 2005, but if you haven't listened to them previously, they are still very much worth the time for fans.

Next up, we have two documentaries originally produced for the National Geographic channel, including the newly produced 42-minute long Titanic: 25 years later, which seeks to answer the age-old question of whether Jack and Rose could have both fit on the floating door, as well as the 96-minute long Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron documentary from 2012, which takes an in-depth look at the vessel and what really would have happened once she hit the iceberg.

How much longer could the film have been? Well, according to the one hour of Deleted Scenes - quite a bit! For the most part, these were properly removed, but there are quite a few interesting scenes revealed here, including an elongated excision where Lovejoy pursues Jack and Rose through the sinking ship, which was teased in the theatrical trailer. Props to the studio for remastering these properly in high definition and with finished sound and foley effects, including the occasional completed visual effect for full effect.

Finally, we have a 35-minute Behind-the-Scenes Presentation Hosted by Jon Landau, which collates together several smaller featurettes from previous releases into one concise feature with a little added context, as well as the Trailer Presentation Hosted by Jon Landau, which does much the same for the various teaser and theatrical trailers.

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Photo of product for sale

The Movie

92%

Video Quality

89%

Audio Quality

94%

Extras

90%

Overall

91%

The Bottom Line

Titanic is a true modern classic, and it's been treated with the care and attention that it's due.

TweakTown award
91%

Titanic [4K UHD]

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Ben joined the TweakTown team in 2008 and has since reviewed 100s of movies. Ben is based in Australia and has covered entertainment news and reviews since 2002. A student of film, Ben brings a wide understanding of the medium to the latest happenings in entertainment circles and the latest blockbuster theatrical reviews.

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