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Titanic: Blood & Steel (Blu-ray Review)

3 Jan, 2013 By: John Latchem

Three-disc set, $29.98 DVD, $29.97 Blu-ray
Not rated.
Stars Kevin Zegers, Neve Campbell, Chris Noth, Derek Jacobi, Alessandra Mastronardi.

In the 100 years since the supposedly unsinkable Titanic went down in the North Atlantic in 1912, countless films have depicted life on the ship during the voyage and the profound tragedy that occurred after it hit an iceberg and sank. At least Titanic: Blood & Steel had the good sense to avoid another similar dramatization by providing what could be seen as a prequel to those efforts.

Director Ciarán Donnelly’s miniseries, told in 12 hourlong chapters, depicts the construction of the Titanic against the backdrop of political unrest in Northern Ireland and a budding labor movement that complicates the effort to complete the ship on time.

And then there’s a healthy dose of melodrama involving an array of fictional characters who threaten to push the Titanic too far into the background.

The primary story involves Dr. Mark Muir (Kevin Zegers), a metallurgist who is convinced that Titanic’s steel is not sufficient to withstand the rigors a ship of its size is expected to handle. Muir, however, is running from his past, secretly a Catholic who has been hired on at Belfast’s Harland and Wolff shipyard, who hire mostly Protestants. He falls in love with Sofia (the gorgeous Alessandra Mastronardi), an Italian immigrant working at the yard as a clerk who gets involved with attempts to unionize the workers.

Muir also hopes to find his long-lost daughter, when he’s not fighting the bureaucracy of the shipyard executives or the dictates of the White Star Line, owned by American business tycoon J.P. Morgan (Chris Noth). Muir’s most sympathetic ear is Harland and Wolff chairman Lord Pirrie, a real person played here by Derek Jacobi. Pirrie’s own experiences with the ship find his political idealism quickly tempered by pragmatism and disillusionment.

And so on and so forth. Most of these storylines are actually rather engrossing, aside from a spy plot involving Neve Campbell’s American journalist character, tacked on late in the game to apparently pad out the running time. However, there is some skill involved in maneuvering such a large cast toward an ending that is more-or-less already known.

The extras are limited to a couple of short making-of featurettes, with plenty of cast interviews and an emphasis on the visual effects.

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