When James Cameron’s Titanic broke box office records it kicked off a whole slew of Titanic films and documentaries about the world’s most famous ship, some good some not-so-good, but of all the entries that followed the success of Cameron’s movie only one of them had a giant octopus being tricked into lobbing an iceberg at the Titanic by a group of criminal sharks, and that is pretty special.
First off, forget everything you know about the Titanic sinking because, in this movie, we learn that a group of talking sea creatures came to the rescue! That’s right, a giant octopus, a killer whale, and even a lobster team up to save the day. Who needs lifeboats when you have a bunch of aquatic superheroes? That may sound like the ravings of a madman but this was, apparently, what some people thought of as children’s entertainment. The movie opens with an old mouse telling his grandchildren the supposedly “true” story of the RMS Titanic and thus begins a movie that tosses in anthropomorphic mice and a series of truly bizarre twists into a film that is gleefully ripping off a Cameron’s Academy Award-winning epic.
The plot of The Legend of the Titanic does have quite a few elements “borrowed” from Cameron’s Titanic, in this film we have a beautiful young woman named Elizabeth (Jane Alexander) who is being pushed into a marriage with a posh whaling mogul named Everard Maltravers (Gregory Snegoff), something she has no interest in doing, especially considering she has caught the eye of the dashing and charismatic Romani-Spanish man named Don Juan (Francis Pardeilhan), who is kind of our Jack Dawson equivalent, but he kind of dresses like Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon and looks nothing like what one would expect from a person travelling in steerage aboard the RMS Titanic. There is no “Heart of the Ocean” to drive this plot forward, instead, we have Maltravers orchestrating a conspiracy to marry Elizabeth simply to get permission from her father, the Duke of Camden (Nick Alexander), so he can have global access to the oceans for his whaling operations. Aiding him in this endeavour is Elizabeth’s evil stepmother (Teresa Pascarelli) – as if there is any other kind of stepmother in an animated film – and Maltravers’ manservant Geoffreys (Sean Patrick Lovett) who negotiates with a shiver of sharks that operate some kind of underwater crime cartel and are led by a particularly nasty shark named Mister Ice.
Things get interesting when the marriage plan goes south, with Elizabeth stating that she will never marry Maltravers, and thus our villains must move on to Plan “B” which consists of forcing the Duke at gunpoint to sign away the whaling concession and then leave him tied up in his stateroom. Are you with me so far? The next part of the plan is the real kicker, which has those nasty sharks tricking a giant octopus into throwing an iceberg into the path of the Titanic – Note: The sharks also prevent the rudder from turning to make sure the ship hits the iceberg, because why not – and then Maltravers and his accomplices would slip away in a stolen lifeboat. How is that not the greatest plan ever conceived? I don’t even know why you’d bother with the whole marriage conspiracy plot if you had shark minions at your beck and call. Now, to say the villains in this movie are a little goofy is a bit of an understatement but you have to give the filmmaker credit for going for broke on their evilness.
Lucky for our heroes, they have a cadre of creatures to assist them. The mice run around spying and uncovering the nefarious scheme, a school of dolphins points out to Elizabeth that she now has the ability to speak to animals, a pair of birds deliver messages, a mouse orchestra provides mood music for our two lovers, a Killer Whale tries its best to stop the silly octopus from throwing the iceberg and a pod of whales is called in to rescue those who can’t fit in the lifeboats. Not to mention the distressed octopus risking its life trying to hold the Titanic together so as to give people time to get off the sinking ship.
Note: Over the years, squid and octopi have gotten a bad rap in films like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and It Came from Beneath the Sea, so I guess this movie is trying to balance the scales.
The plot of the movie is so far-fetched that it’s hard to believe anyone thought it was a good idea, and sure, the idea of a love story between a sweet and noble girl and a hunky gypsy is all well and good – a tale as old as time and all that – but when you throw in a shark crime syndicate, a gullible giant octopus and a pod of heroic whales, well, that is something straight out of a fever dream and will leave most viewers scratching their heads in confusion, which I’m guessing is due to this film’s attempt at telling this tragic of 1,500 people dying in the freezing cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean by not dealing with anything remotely real or tragic happening at all. So why not have a happy ending where absolutely No One Dies?
• The movie opens with the strains of the song “New York New York” but if you think about it, the lyrics “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” are in pretty poor taste when you consider the fact that, in reality, not everybody on the Titanic made it there or anywhere but the bottom of the ocean.
• Everard Maltravers hopes to gain worldwide whaling rights from Elizabeth’s father, but even Duke doesn’t have the ability to grant rights to whaling in international waters or the territorial waters that extend 12 nautical miles from any nation’s shore.
• A tear Elizabeth sheds is caught in a net of magical moonbeams and this grants her the ability to understand animals, no notes, that’s bloody brilliant.
• Geoffreys is also able to talk to sharks and I have to ask “Did he have a tear caught in a net of magical moonbeams or does his ability stem from just being evil?”
• Juan gains the ability to understand animals when his and Elizabeth’s souls become truly united, and I’m starting to wonder what drugs the writers of this movie were on.
• In this film, we see ice resting on the ocean floor, which is odd as ice has a density of 4/5ths that of water and thus tends to float.
• The song “Ocean Dreams” in this film was a blatant attempt to copy “My Heart Will Go On” from Cameron’s film, and like everything else in this movie, it failed.
Even if you let slide the insanely laughable premise this film has to offer it still manages to fall flat in its execution and anyone over the age of six will have a hard time becoming invested in a group of two-dimensional characters in a plot that feels rushed, disjointed and utterly insane. The voice acting is also subpar, with many of the characters sounding flat and uninspired, though to be fair, that’s kind to be expected from a film that probably used the cheapest people available to do the English dubbing. Basically, this movie is a real deep-sea disaster and is like a bad dream that you can’t wake up from, only instead of being chased by a monster, you’re stuck on a ship with a talking octopus, so if that sounds like a good time to you, then grab some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the hilariously awful ride that is The Legend of the Titanic.
The Legend of the Titanic (1999)
Movie Rank - 3/10
Overall, The Legend of the Titanic is an unforgettably goofy film that falls short in almost every aspect, but if you’re looking for a movie about the Titanic where mice and a giant octopus save the day, have I got the film for you.