I have to admit, I saw Titanic the first time based on Cameron's reputation for staging spectacle, and when he finally got around to it, the spectacle was... spectacular. But it's most of three hours getting there, so it needed to enage me at story level, and for one viewing it was fine. Not amazing; not so engrossing and nuanced that repeat viewing were called for, but enough to keep me watching until the boat sank.
It'd never make my list of All Time Faves. If the list were of Significant Films, though, it'd earn a place. You gotta pay some kind of attention to any movie that grosses a billion dollars.
The sinking is virtually the entire 2nd half of the film.
Sort of. But there's all that stuff going on with the storyline - it isn't like the chase scenes Cameron specialized in on stuff like Terminator 2 or True Lies, which are spectacle for the sake of spectacle. The ship is sinking, but it isn't like I sat there enthralled with that - I was paying attention to Leo and Katie and Billy.
That Monty comparison nailed it.