Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Review - Titanic II

Writer/Director; Shane Van Dyke
Starring; Bruce Davison, Shane Van Dyke, Marie Westbrook, D.C Douglas
Time: 1h 30 mins

No doubt living rooms the world over echoed with waves of groans and laughter at the news that  'The Asylum' infamous for their low budget, highly creative projects  actually produced 'Titanic II' .The idea of a sequel (although Asylum have not marketed it as such) to James Cameron’s big budget effects-laden story of the ill-fated liner must have seemed like just another one of many fan made trailer purporting a sequel of sorts. However the joke became very real when the Syfy channel announced its television premier in 2010. Let's face it only the inmates at 'The Asylum' would attempt such a feat. So was this modern day reliving of one of history's infamous maritime tragedies a grand voyage or did it sink just like its namesake?


Historic Voyage


On the 100th anniversary of the original ill-
fated voyage, a modern luxury liner named the Titanic II sets sail on the same historic course. Hailed as the most sophisticated sailing vessel ever built ( like we haven't heard that before) and this time with more than enough life boats for every passenger, its designer and corporate playboy Hayden Welsh (Shane Van Dyke) is convinced of the ship's invulnerability.

Meanwhile, coast guard captain James Maine (Bruce Davison) learns of a tsunami carrying a huge iceberg is on a collision course with the Titanic II. Maine races by helicopter to reach the liner in time to warn them of the impending disaster and rescue his daughter Amy (Marie Westbrook), one of the ship’s paramedics before the ship is hit. With the possibility of an even bigger wave carrying bigger chunks of ice threatening to clear everything in its path, the pressure is on to reach the Titanic II before it suffers the fate of its predecessor.


A Good Bad Movie


'The Asylum’s' numerous productions are the Marmite of independent cinema - you either love them or hate them? Film snobs may turn up their noses at the low production values and fast turnover that may leave some rough edges - cliches, a cheesy line or two, some intentional (others unintentional) deadpan performances. And let's not forget the small budget CGI effects which at times standout like a sore thumb, or a foreboding iceberg. These, however are not necessarily bad things and those who prize a little more thinking out of the box movie making, will appreciate 'Titanic II'.

Writer, director and star Shane Van Dyke (son of screen legend Dick Van Dyke)  appreciated the idea that less is definitely more dispensing with the prolonged romantic story line of Cameron’s blockbuster, and opted for the classic disaster movie formula; the inevitable estranged couple destined to find each other again, the corporate tycoon boasting the ship’s invulnerability, and that lone voice of dissent expressing concerns of the ship’s rushed construction. Whereas previous films about the Titanic highlighted the class divisions within the liner, Van Dyke inserted a not so subtle message about the devastating effects of climate change. 

In front of the camera he also seems to relish in his role as playboy Hayden Welsh the slimy corporate spoilt brat who soon discovers his selfless bravado, all for love. As director Van Dyke gets some solid performances from Marie Westbrook as ship’s physician and Walsh's lost love Amy Maine, the typical heroic damsel struggling to escape in distress, whilst D.C. Douglas straight laced performance as the Titanic II’s captain with a penchant for stating the obvious - “Looks like history is about to repeat itself.” Bruce Davison as coast guard Captain James Maine is the real star cast attraction and in putting in a stellar performance mixing hurried urgency with authoritative determination with perfect timing it's not hard to see why he is simply never out of work, whilst remaining one of Hollywood’s underrated talents. 


The plot not only retreads the original story, but also draws elements from other ocean disaster films. Think Titanic meets Poseidon Adventure meets The Abyss. The film boasts many impressive visuals for a straight to DVD production. They may not hold a candle to the worst works of Industrial Light and Magic but do produce some stand-out scenes. The Titanic II liner itself looks every bit as larger than life as its predecessor, sailing gracefully across the Atlantic and the scenes of the giant tsunami tidal waves with the big blocks of ice look chillingly menacing. Where the drama and scale come together is the inevitable fatalistic sinking ship, and it is a finale that on the whole does not disappoint.

Disaster Fun 


Titanic II is by no means a perfect film, packed with cliches, predictable and at times its low budget credentials inadvertently on show. Yet the film is well paced and as a low budget indie picture has a blockbuster feel which might have even benefited from a big screen release. If you're wondering why you should even consider giving this a go, there is plenty to enjoy but for maverick movie maniacs it is the antithesis to James Cameron's 1997 Oscar winning epic - it's half the length and twice as entertaining. Kudos should go to the 'The Asylum' team for green-lighting such a project, evidence of the studios outlandishly creative daring to make films others wouldn't dream - how about Titanic in Space? 


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