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observation notes: Titanic II

There is a certain absurdity that must be overlooked if you're going to enjoy Titanic II, by all other accounts a highly enjoyable film: no shipbuilder in the world would ever, ever, ever name their ship Titanic II. Ever. It's like christening a new space shuttle the Challenger II, or building a summer camp on a Native American Burial Ground - you're just inviting disaster. Seriously, every time they same the name of the ship, I instinctively winced. But this could just be me. However, as it's my blog, I figured this was the spot to voice that grievance. Moving on...

On the 100th anniversary of its namesake's fateful journey, the Titanic II - the brainchild of a young trust-funder - is set to retrace the original route, going backwards this time, from New York to England. Cuz, you know, that's not tempting anything.

The side-story is the impending collapse of glacial shelves in the Arctic, colorfully demonstrated in the film's opening sequence when a adrenaline junkie surfing the waves created by breaking glaciers (classy) is thoroughly fucked when a little too much breaks off.

Enter Bruce (MegaFault, X-Men, Mother Jugs and Speed)Davison, concerned Coast Guard glaciologist, via whose daughter(Marie Westbrook, 100 Million BC, Dracula's Curse), coincidentally a nurse on Titanic II, we meet the myriad supporting cast members who compromise the passengers, a.k.a. the victims, including the trust-funder (writer/director/legacy Shane Van Dyke, who's also responsible for Paranormal Entity and the scripts for 3 other Asylum films), who coincidentally enough has a past with Davison's daughter. Lots of coincidences.

The film alternates between the ship's lavish journey and Davison's dour discovery that shit's going down in the Arctic. Enter Brooke Burns, the hottest scientist since Denise Richards played a Bond girl, spouting a lot of "state-sized" this and "mega-tsunami" that, driving home some Al Gore hit points and otherwise just rocking a fur-lined parka. The gist is this: the ice shelf is set to collapse, and when it does, it's going to ripple the shit out of the North Atlantic, sending killer waves and killer ice toward the Titanic II. Yikes. (nice segue back to ship here via a single ice cube being dropped into a glass of water. subtle.) Basically our villain here is a super wave throwing icebergs. That's pretty fucking cool, and a pretty fucking smart way to tie-in to the original ending and the current ecological state while still being inventive. Hats off on this point, Mr. Van Dyke. I mean, it's the natural equivalent of the speedball, that move the X-Men used to pull with Colossus as the ocean and Wolvie as the iceberg. Fucking insane.

From here the action unfurls, and I'll leave that spoiler-free but to give kudos on the Vernesian lifeboats and triage with a credit card. Nuff said.

Bruce Davison is the perfect choice for his role, curmudgeonly concerned and looking permanently constipated, which works. Brooke Burns is believable, and brought her pink lipstick to the Arctic, which is a nice variation to the color spectrum. Truthfully she's not on screen that much, it's like, "Oh yeah, Brooke Burns," kinda like life.

Titanic II rests its burden mostly on Van Dyke, Westbrook and a strong supporting cast including Wittly Jourdan (Allan Quatermain..., Alien v. Hunter), Myles Cranford (MegaPiranha, MegaShark...) and Matt Lagan ( Princess of Mars, Meteor Apocalypse).

Bottom line, Titanic II is a taut, suspenseful, strangely believable film with great FX, not at all the campfest mainstream media was expecting it to be based on the title. This is no scenario to scoff at, and it's deftly handled by the fine folks at The Asylum. Shit, I liked it more than Titanic, story-wise. And it took half the time to watch, so, there's that.