What it’s like to watch ‘Titanic’ for the very first time

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Titanic,” writer-director James Cameron has remastered the Oscar-winning love story yet again. A weeklong 3-D engagement will begin Friday in Dolby Cinema at 20 AMC locations, including Town Square.

“The image leaps off the screen as bright and vibrant as life itself,” Cameron said in a statement. “This is the way all movies should be seen, and without a doubt, ‘Titanic’ has never looked better.”

I wouldn’t know. I’d never seen it.

“How?!?!?!” cried every woman in my life when I admitted this. Easy. By actively avoiding it. I’ve just never had any desire to see one of history’s greatest disasters nearly upstaged by an upstairs-down-in-steerage romance between Rose (Kate Winslet) and Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Also, it lasts an eternity.

I used to say you couldn’t pay me to watch “Titanic,” but it turns out I was wrong.

So here, after 20 years, are my minute-by-minute reactions to seeing one of the biggest movies of all time for the first time:

1:30 What’s this? Submarines? Is that what really sank Titanic? How have I missed this?

2:17 Nope. It’s just research vessels exploring the wreckage. Disappointing. But, yay, Bill Paxton!

13:32 Whoa, whoa, whoa! I’ve already seen young Rose’s breast at least a half dozen times.

14:26 Rose is now 100 years old and in a wheelchair, yet she still brings her dog on a helicopter to a salvage ship in the middle of the North Atlantic.

14:41 She also brings her goldfish.

18:37 Crew member Lewis Bodine: “The stern section just kind of bobs there like a cork for a couple of minutes, floods and finally goes under about 2:20 a.m., 2 hours and 40 minutes after the collision.” Sure, that sounds like an agonizingly long time. But the sinking lasted 35 minutes less than this movie.

21:04 We’re finally getting to the actual story.

25:07 Jack and his best friend, Fabrizio, win third-class Titanic tickets in a poker game.

29:30 Old Rose: “By the next afternoon, we were steaming west from the coast of Ireland with nothing out ahead of us but ocean.” Well, ocean and a certain iceberg.

32:33 Jack: “I’m the king of the world!” There are roughly 2,400 passengers on that ship. How is it that Jack and Fabrizio are the only ones taking in the best view? Heck, they’re the only people on the entire foredeck.

39:42 Jack: “To tell you the truth, I’m a lot more concerned about that water being so cold.” Foreshadowing!

50:56 Jack: “That’s one of the good things about Paris — lots of girls willing to take their clothes off.” If that’s not on the city’s coat of arms, it oughtta be.

1:02:37 Everybody keeps talking about how poor Jack is. He won his ticket in a card game. Wouldn’t he have needed at least the cash value of that ticket to play that hand? That’s how poker works, right?

1:05:44 Hey! Fabrizio’s back! Missed ya, buddy.

1:10:13 Sure, the guy with the bagpipes is fun at the steerage party, but imagine having to bunk with him.

1:16:44 Is Rose seriously pointing out to Thomas Andrews, the shipbuilder who oversaw the production of Titanic, that there aren’t enough lifeboats for everyone on board? Yeesh.

1:21:40 Now Jack’s “I’m the king of the world”-ing Rose. Seriously, why is no one else ever on the deck? Did James Cameron blow the budget for extras on special effects?

1:28:42 Old Rose is telling the crew about her sex life. Gross.

1:37:42 The lookouts stare as Jack and Rose make out on the deck that’s, yet again, otherwise empty.

1:38:07 The lookouts stop gawking at Jack and Rose, finally notice the iceberg and sound the alarm.

1:40:23 Titanic very nearly avoids the iceberg. In other words, 1,500 people died because those two horndogs couldn’t keep their hands off each other. Nice.

1:40:38 Hey! Fabrizio’s back!

1:41:00 The flooding finally starts. This isn’t half bad.

1:43:18 Hey! Fabrizio’s back!

1:51:32 When confronted by Rose, Andrews tells her the ship will be on the bottom of the Atlantic in an hour or so. “Please,” he begs, “tell only who you must. I don’t want to be responsible for a panic.” Fifteen hundred icy deaths, sure. Just not a panic.

1:54:11 Oh, so now that the ship is sinking, everybody’s suddenly clamoring to be on the deck.

2:06:24 Rose doesn’t hesitate to carry an ax through frigid, chest-deep water to rescue a handcuffed Jack. Jack’s first words after being freed? “You did it! Come on, let’s go. Oh (expletive), this is cold! (Expletive)! (Expletive)! (Expletive)!” What a weenie.

2:08:53 Hey! Fabrizio’s back!

2:09:50 Fabrizio and Jack share a scene for the first time in an hour.

2:13:01 Jokes aside, this sinking is pretty spectacular.

2:20:12 Is Billy Zane seriously running around firing a gun at Jack and Rose, after he’d already left them behind to die? Oof.

2:27:54 How no one thought to give Zane a mustache to twirl is beyond me.

2:31:03 Wow! Things actually slow down enough to recognize the human tragedy and the seriousness of the disaster.

2:32:38 Hey! Fabrizio’s back!

2:36:02 R.I.P. Fabrizio.

2:38:35 How has Jack still not gotten his hands on a life jacket? I’m starting to get a bad feeling about this.

2:39:19 The way people keep sliding off this ship, if “Ka” ever stops turning a profit, Cirque du Soleil should repurpose its vertical stage for “Titanic: The Musical.”

2:43:40 Some of the CGI is a little obvious, but for a 20-year-old movie, the technology has held up remarkably well.

2:50:49 Rose tells Jack she loves him. That’s almost as fast as the ladies on “The Bachelor.” But if you love him so much, why don’t you scooch over a bit and make some room for him on that floating hunk of wood?

2:55:49 And Jack’s dead. At least he’ll finally get to spend some quality time with Fabrizio.

2:56:58 Hey, Rose. Did you really need to pry Jack’s frozen hands off your hunk of wood and send him to the murky depths? You couldn’t even let him have a proper burial? That’s cold. No pun intended.

2:57:54 Old Rose is back. Wait a minute. I forgot this whole movie was her telling her story to the crew of the salvage ship. So how did she know what went on during the countless scenes she isn’t in? C’mon, James Cameron!

3:04:40 Rather than selling it to provide for her granddaughter, and her granddaughter’s granddaughter’s granddaughter — or even funding a war on icebergs — Old Rose chucks that massive diamond necklace into the sea. Selfish.

3:05:40 And she’s dead.

3:06:20 So if you were on Titanic, heaven is returning to Titanic? What about all the crew members? They’re sentenced to an eternity of serving others while never seeing their loved ones? Seems pretty harsh.

3:06:33 Hey! Fabrizio’s back!

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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