In addition to being a world-renowned novelologist, game playing dude, and afficianado of giant fightin’ robots, I am also, a B-movie fan. I’ve seen a lot of them, and while most B movies aren’t very good, there’s something about the good ones (and the terrible ones) that can make them worth watching. Anyone can make a decent movie with a big enough budget. Sure, Tron Legacy stinks, but it sure does look pretty. (Sorry. I know I keep bashing Legacy but it’s a reflex at this point.)
B movies (and C and D movies) can have a certain charm. Not everyone gets this. Most people like B movies in the “So Bad They’re Good” way, and I do enjoy many a B movie for that reason too. But then there are other Bs that aren’t really horrible enough to laugh at and aren’t all that great either. They kind of sit in the middle and exist in this state of quantum uncertainty. Are they bad enough to make fun of? Sorta. Are they good enough to surprise you? No, not really. So what are they? Who gives voice to B films that aren’t quite bad, aren’t quite good?
Yours truly. That’s who.
And so today, I begin my (possibly) semi-regular feature on B movies that I’ve seen. I’m not going to suggest you go and watch these films. That’s your call. But they are available on Netflix, and people went ahead and made these movies. So why not give them a look? I’m fairly certain that if you made a film, these filmmakers would go ahead and watch yours, no matter how bad it was likely to be.
Today, it’s 2010’s Titanic 2.
I will just say off the bat that this isn’t a bad movie. It’s not very good either. But it isn’t boring, which is nice, and it has some decent FX and acting. It managed to entertain me for 90 mins, which is more than Cameron’s version did. And it doesn’t waste two hours with morons when really, I’m there to watch a boat sink. Titanic 2 understands this, and I give it mad props (as the kids probably don’t say anymore) for knowing what I’m there for.
Titanic 2 is about a boat called (you guessed it) Titanic 2. Granted, this is an incredibly stupid idea. If there was a reason our hero billionaire (played by Shane Van Dyke) had for building a replica of a boat synonomous with disaster, I didn’t notice it. Maybe it’s his thing. Maybe he’s working on a Hindenburg 2, a Lusitania 2, and a New Coke 2. If so, I can respect his moxy.
On the plus side, the boat is designed to only look like the original. It has modern engines and the latest in lifeboats. So, hey, it’s not like the project is a complete screw up. Although, if you haven’t guessed that Titanic 2 is probably headed for disaster, you should stop reading this right now and go watch the film. Spoilers are to follow.
By the way, it’s mentioned several times that the ship’s engines haven’t been fully “tested” yet. I’m not sure what that means. Did they just slap on some engines and decide to see if they turn on later? Are engines like calf muscles on long distance runners? Will they seize up if they don’t get a chance to stretch? Or maybe they’re warranty just expired. This is a mystery I have yet to decipher.
In addition to our billionaire friend, there’s also Marie Westbrook as a ship . . . er . . . lady. I think a nurse. I’m not quite sure. She once had a relationship with Billionaire, so that’s going to come up. And there’s also a pair of scientists studying glaciers or ice caps or something. Guy Scientist (Bruce Davison who you will recognize even if you don’t know his name) is also Nurse’s father. He knows Titanic 2 is not up to snuff, but, of course, Nurse fails to listen to him. Lady Scientist (Brook Burns) is along just to give Guy Scientist someone to talk to, as far as I could tell.
That’s really the extent of the characters. There’s a second nurse who is friends with Nurse, but let’s be honest, we all know she’s going to die at some point so it’s hard to get too attached to her. Titanic 2 seems to understand this too because it doesn’t waste a lot of time with secondary or tertiary characters. We don’t meet any passsengers. We barely get to know a handful of crew. The brief time we spend before disaster strikes is spent with Billionaire, Nurse, or Guy and Lady Scientist. And that’s just fine with me.
Through a series of complications, a giant wave shoves an iceberg into the Titanic 2. The ship immediately starts sinking, and people run around in a panic. In the disaster, half the lifeboats are destroyed so that’s a problem. Although not really much of a problem considering that the second wave destroys all the lifeboats and everyone on board them. Yeah, Titanic 2 racks up quite a body count. And then at about the halfway point, the ship even explodes. So that’s not good. And to add insult to injury, near the very end, another giant wave capsized the ship like the Poseidon. In the meantime, Billionaire and Nurse run around trying to get to various locations for various arbitrary reasons. And Guy and Lady Scientist talk about stuff while riding around in a helicopter.
Really, that’s the plot and everything you need to know.
But let’s get something straight here. Titanic 2 isn’t all that bad. In fact, the directing is competent. The FX are adequate. And the few characters we do have seem like nice enough people I didn’t mind rooting for. I give the movie credit for a few unexpected twists. Billionaire isn’t a bad guy. The disaster that befalls the ship is more one of circumstance than of his greed or incompetence (as is pretty standard in these sort of films). And he even demonstrates his heroism by loading wounded people into his own escape helicopter and staying aboard the ship to help. So technically, some people do survive the disaster though they are never mentioned or seen again after the helicopter scene.
This might be a good time to point out that Shane Van Dyke AKA Billionaire is also the writer and director of the film, so maybe he just wanted to make himself look good. Still, I enjoyed that he wasn’t just a douchebag who gets people killed as so many A and B movie billionaires tend to be.
The film moves at a fair clip. If there are some strange scenes that don’t add up to anything, they’re over pretty quickly and then we’re off to watch our heroes try not to die as things go from bad to worse to more worse. In the end (spoiler) everyone aboard the ship but Nurse dies. And honestly, that was a bit of a downer. I kind of wanted Billionaire to live by the end of it. He seemed like a decent sort. But maybe that’s in the rulebook for decent Billionaires. They have to die so evil billionaires can take their place.
These are some points that left a positive impression on me.
There’s a scene where a random bearded guy punches Billionaire while shouting “This is all your fault!” It’s surreal to watch as a guy who actually bought a ticket for a boat called the Titanic 2 complains about it sinking. What did he expect? Furthermore, it doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense to punch Billionaire, who is about to die with you anyway. I enjoyed this brief scene because it was both absurd and actually, probably fairly realistic.
There’s a cool shot of a helicopter trying to rise about a rushing wave. It’s nothing compared to something a blockbuster would put out there, but for a low budget flick, it’s not bad.
There’s a lot of shots of people looking at something in awe. Very Spielbergian. But, y’know what? If I saw a giant wave coming at me, I’d probably gape too. So this is a situation where gaping is permissable.
Not many. The movie really isn’t too bad.
There’s a scene where our heroes have to use some pipes to climb past electrified water that went on too long.
There’s another scene where Billionaire fails to save a man dying on the other side of a door. I think it’s to highlight his powerlessness and guilt, but at this point, the ship is already half sunk and on fire and a whole bunch of people have died, so that plot point was already made.
And then there’s the end, in which (SPOILER) Nurse drags Billionaire’s frozen body through the icy submerged depths of the ship with the hopes that the freezing water will preserve him enough to allow her to revive him. Preposterous, certainly, but this isn’t The Road. I’m wililng to suspend my disbelief for a happy ending here. After all, our heroes have gone through a lot to get to this point.
So she gets him to the surface and tries to revive him. And . . . nothing. He dies. The end. Kind of a downer. And an unnecessary one at that. I don’t know if Shane Van Dyke was trying to be artistic by dangling false hope in front of me, but it only ended up annoying me. So, hey, maybe Titanic 2 is high art, after all. Maybe Cormac McCarthy coached Van Dyke on how to end on a depressing note in hopes of getting Titanic 2 an Oscar. Who knows? Who cares?
All I know is that, sure, a few hundred people died, but I didn’t give a crap about any of them. But I kind of cared for Billionaire, and if he’d lived, I would’ve probably given Titanic 2 a better recommendation.
So, overall, the film is decent. It probably won’t leave a tremendous impression, but it’s not bad. If you happen to be bored one afternoon and want to watch something about a boat sinking that doesn’t take three hours to get to the sinking part, then you could do a lot worse.
Thumbs Up from this reviewer.
NEXT WEEK: Mega Shark Vs. Crocasaurus!
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