Capsule reviews of 3-D 'Titanic,' other new films

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 4 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

"The Hunter" — You'd swear that a so-titled film starring Willem Dafoe would be some dark, mud-caked descent into the primal nature of man. But in the taut Aussie thriller, directed by Daniel Nettheim and adapted from the novel by Julia Leigh, danger and mystery don't lie in the wild forests of Tasmania, where Dafoe is pursuing the last Tasmanian Tiger. It's the encroaching, corrupting modern world lurking on the fringes that's the real threat. Dafoe plays a mercenary named Martin who's dispatched to the Australian isle by a biotech company. A local (Sam Neill) sets him up at a remote farmhouse where the father has recently gone missing; the mother, Lucy Armstrong (the striking Frances O'Connor), is bedridden by grief and drugs; and the two young children (Morgana Davies, Finn Woodlock) are curious about the newcomer. Martin quickly finds that his normal habits of stealthy anonymity and meticulous organization go wanting, as he's unwittingly swept into a battle between loggers and "greenies" — environmental activists seeking to keep the Tasmanian woods protected. Dafoe isn't particularly tested, but he easily dominates the film. Like the lithe tiger he hunts, he's a lone wolf headed for extinction. While it's a well-made thriller with a pleasant, messy ruggedness, the film — perhaps too dependent on Dafoe for depth — never quite catches its prey. Its leanness, both praiseworthy and preventing real satisfaction, cuts both ways. R for language and brief violence. 101 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

— Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer

"Titanic" in 3-D — If any film should be redone in 3-D, it's "Titanic." And if any filmmaker should be the one doing the redoing, it's James Cameron. He's been a pioneer in advancing this cinematic technology for years now, from his underwater documentaries to the record-breaking juggernaut that is "Avatar." And so ironically, for a film that hasn't got an ounce of understatement in its three-hour-plus running time, "Titanic" in 3-D is really rather subtle and finely tuned. There's nothing gimmicky about the conversion process; it's immersive, it actually enhances the viewing experience the way a third dimension ideally should. It's also gorgeous: crisp and tactile, warm and inviting — until all hell breaks loose, that is. So often when 2-D films are transformed into 3-D, they're done so hastily with results that are murky and inaccessible. Cameron and his team clearly took their time. So while the romantic first half of the film remains more emotionally compelling, the disastrous second half has become even more visually dazzling. Cameron has stayed true to the content of his 1997 film, the winner of 11 Oscars including best picture — and that includes his clunky script filled with hokey dialogue and broad characters. What also remains intact is the earnestness of "Titanic," the absence of snark or irony, and the sensation that you're watching a big, ambitious, good-old-fashioned spectacle that can withstand the test of time. Plus, it's just fun to see the buxom, feisty Kate Winslet and boyish, charming Leonardo DiCaprio in the roles that made them superstars once more on the big screen. PG-13 for disaster-related peril and violence, nudity, sensuality and brief language. 195 minutes. Three stars out of four.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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