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Film of the Week: Titanic 3D (12A)

JAMES Cameron’s mega-budget love story set aboard the doomed ocean liner was a phenomenon.

Buoyed by the on-screen chemistry of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Titanic sailed away with a record 11 Academy Awards and broke box office records until Cameron trumped himself with the equally epic Avatar.

The film also installed Celine Dion at the top of global charts for what seemed like an eternity with her heartfelt lament My Heart Will Go On.

To coincide with the centenary of Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage, Cameron has revisited his masterpiece and lovingly converted it to 3D.

The Oscar-winning writer-director has been at the forefront of expanding the boundaries of the increasingly fashionable format.

At multiplexes and IMAX cinemas, he has created some truly immersive experiences that soften the blow of inflated ticket prices and the inevitable discomfort of wearing the spectacles.

In the case of Titanic, that discomfort lasts for more than three hours but no matter – we’re completely swept along by Cameron’s vision, which uses a fictional blue diamond necklace known as The Heart Of The Ocean as the narrative glue between the present and past.

The film begins deep underwater with Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) and his team of hi-tech treasure hunters scouring the submerged wreck.

The 3D is breathtaking – we can almost feel particles in the water brushing against our faces as cameras glide through compartments.

The search comes to nought until Brock meets 101-year-old survivor Rose DeWitt Bukater (Gloria Stuart).

Staring transfixed at a sketch of her younger self, Rose recalls her burgeoning romance with spirited artist Jack Dawson (DiCaprio) aboard the eponymous luxury liner.

Her jealous fiancé Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) schemes to drive a wedge between the sweethearts with the help of his valet Spicer Lovejoy (David Warner) and Rose’s snobbish, money-oriented mother (Frances Fisher).

Fate intervenes and passengers of all classes fight for their lives as the ship quickly takes on freezing water.

Titanic 3D is a feast for the senses and the heart, recalling the epic storytelling of British director David Lean and co, and cements Cameron’s reputation as an action director par excellence, but also as a master helmsman of delicately observed human drama.

With all the technological advances of the past 15 years, the film still looks pristine and colours aren’t dulled by the new format.

Indeed, Titanic is perfectly suited to it: water-logged corridors seem to stretch into the distance; and our stomachs lurch with Jack and Rose as they cling to the stern, looking down as fellow passengers tumble to their doom.

Cameron hasn’t plugged any of the plot holes and some dialogue is still cheesy but now, just as in 1998, we forgive him a multitude of sins.