Titanic: The Legend Goes On (2000)
It is worth saying up front that Titanic: The Legend Goes On is not quite as bad as The Legend of the Titanic. But as you may have gathered from the last post, that’s a very low bar. The content here is slightly less cringe-worthy and more bearable to watch, but ultimately, it’s still a movie which sugar-coats a terrible maritime disaster with a child-friendly plot and talking animals.
The Legend Goes On doesn’t have so many blatant rip-offs of the 1997 film – aside from the central romance involving two people of different classes, William and Angelica, who vaguely resemble Jack and Rose in appearance. (The difference is that William is the rich one.) What The Legend Goes On does instead is rip off a long list of other properties. Angelica is forced to be a servant to her stepmother and two stepsisters, a la Cinderella; there are some thieves who strongly resemble Cruella de Vil and the Baduns from 101 Dalmatians; then there’s an actual pair of Dalmatians, the magpie from The Secret of NIMH, the geese from The Aristocats, and a detective who dresses like Sherlock Holmes. Oh, and there are some racial stereotypes thrown in: some Mexican mice in sombreros, and a womanising Frenchman with a pencil moustache.
One way in which this film does manage to be worse than The Legend of the Titanic is the animation. It looks incredibly cheap – many clips are recycled – and the characters’ designs are just plain ugly. One little girl who displays oversized lips as she yells for her lost ball is particularly horrific; also, just before we see the Titanic for the first time, the camera follows a seagull for a few moments and decides to take us all the way up its backside. The dubbed dialogue is often delivered with peculiar pauses, or characters repeating themselves in succession. People’s faces sometimes don’t reflect what they should be feeling: some of them are even smiling as the Titanic goes down. And there’s a great deal of physics-defying slapstick, as bad guys fall over or go flying. When a cook is set on fire, and someone else tries to put it out with whisky, he goes up in a puff of smoke, like something out of Looney Tunes.
This may have been made for children, but I’m not sure any but the youngest and most easily entertained kids would even enjoy it. A lot of the time, it’s actually quite boring. There are some hints of actual subplots – William and Angelica’s romance, or Angelica trying to find her lost locket – but most of the running time is just inane activities involving “Cruella” and her henchmen trying to raid other cabins, or the talking mice and dogs getting up to uninteresting business. And yes, as you may have heard, there is indeed a rapping dog in this movie. (If you type ‘Titanic The Legend Goes On’ into Google, ‘rapping dog’ is one of the search predictions.) And he does indeed strut around the Titanic’s cargo hold, wearing basketball clothing and carrying a boombox on his shoulder. Where he got his paws on these items in 1912 is not explained.
The Titanic still hits an iceberg and sinks, and the film does try to create tension as to whether or not William survives. But any sense of disaster or tragedy is undermined by more slapstick – such as “Cruella” falling over the gap between the deck and a lifeboat, and being used as a bridge – and the fact that in the concluding montage, only one character is explicitly mentioned to have died (without any real pathos behind it). So either 1500 people still died in this version of events and were just ignored; or almost everyone survived, without even the intervention of a giant octopus to explain how.
Sailing the real Titanic into an ice field at high speed proved to be a bad idea with hindsight. These animated films, on the other hand…at just what point in the decision-making process did they look like a good idea?