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The Good, The Bad & The Badass: James Cameron

07.05.2015
Last week, we took at look at the career of  composer James Horner. This week, we examine the work of one of his most famous collaborators ...
James Cameron
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This week marked the release of TERMINATOR: GENISYS. Considering how bad the movie was, James Cameron's promise to fans that this is the real “third film” in the franchise seems highly suspicious, although you can likely chalk up his comments to his enduring friendship with favorite star Arnold Schwarzenegger. And what a team! I'd argue without Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger would have never really become SCHWARZENEGGER as listed on the posters for all of his greatest hits and the legend we know and love.

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Truly, Cameron is one of those rare directors that's always seemed to have his finger on the pulse of what exactly audiences want to see. Over his career he's taken HUGE risks, from the original choice of using Arnold Schwarzenegger in THE TERMINATOR, through turning ALIENS into an action-extravaganza (the opposite of its moody predecessor) to the massive gambles he took on TITANIC and AVATAR, both or which could have cost him his career but went on to be become literally the two top-grossing movies of all time. Cameron knows his stuff and is seemingly one of the few directors out there who just can't miss.

His Best Work
sigourney weaver aliens

For me, this really came down to ALIENS vs TERMINATOR 2. As much as I love the latter – which I'd rank among the greatest action films ever made – no blockbuster has ever quite thrilled me the way ALIENS did. While it's probably hip to say Ridley Scott's ALIEN is the better film (and it's a great one) there are few action adventure movies that have so perfectly juggled heart-stopping action and layered, emotional storytelling as Cameron's sequel did (even more so in the director's cut). Sigourney Weaver is so amazing as Ripley, who not only has to face her greatest fear by going up against a planet full of the xenomorphs who slaughtered her crew, but also finds herself driven by a strong maternal instinct to protect young Newt (Carrie Henn). The result is a film that firmly established Weaver's Ripley as the greatest action heroine of all time (Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor is number two). Sigourney Weaver copped an Oscar nomination for this which was richly deserved.

His Most Underrated Film
the abyss

A lot of people view THE ABYSS as a kind of dry run for TITANIC, but it's much more than that. Cameron's only real flop, he took a lot of static for this movie back in '89, but it should be noted that the version seen in theaters was not the real version of this movie. It wasn't until the much-longer director's cut came out in the mid-nineties that people realized how great this underwater alien-encounter movie really was. For some reason, Cameron's movies seem under-represented on Blu-ray (mainly due to Cameron himself from what I hear) but THE ABYSS is a movie that most certainly would shine after being given an HD upgrade (ditto TRUE LIES).

His Most Overrated Film
avatar

I've never really been on-board with the AVATAR juggernaut. While it's visually stunning, with the best 3D ever committed to film, the story always struck me as too familiar. This was basically a sci-fi twist on A MAN CALLED HORSE, DANCES WITH WOLVES and THE LAST SAMURAI, and I truly never thought it would be as successful as it's become. That said, I have high hopes for the sequels, although I do wish he'd skip the return trip to Pandora in favor of a return to hardcore action movie-making.

His Most Memorable Scene

Obviously, the no-brainer scene is Ripley's last stand against the xenomorph queen in ALIENS, but as I used this for my column on Sigourney Weaver, I've decided instead to feature the amazing motorcycle/truck chase from T2. The bit when Arnie swoops in on his Harley and plucks John Connor (Edward Furlong) off his motorbike gives me chills every time.

His Five Best Films

5. THE ABYSS
4. TRUE LIES
3. THE TERMINATOR
2. TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY
1. ALIENS

 

Up Next

Given that Cameron's gone on record saying that as many as four potential AVATAR sequels are in the works, we can reasonably expect one of those to be coming soon although the dates keep getting pushed (the earliest we can expect the next one is 2017). Whenever we get it, I'm sure it'll be worth the wait.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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3:16PM on 07/06/2015
I heard a TEDTalk with Cameron where he talked about going down into the Marianas Trench. He also talked about how after Titanic he just took time off from directing, and I wouldn't be surprised if this is why it's taking so long for another Avatar movie. When you make as much money as him with your movies, why wouldn't you go on some adventures?

I think his early movies are just as great as everyone else (The Abyss is one I've been meaning to revisit since high school), and like many of his
I heard a TEDTalk with Cameron where he talked about going down into the Marianas Trench. He also talked about how after Titanic he just took time off from directing, and I wouldn't be surprised if this is why it's taking so long for another Avatar movie. When you make as much money as him with your movies, why wouldn't you go on some adventures?

I think his early movies are just as great as everyone else (The Abyss is one I've been meaning to revisit since high school), and like many of his true fans, I find Titanic and Avatar lackluster at best. But when it comes to Cameron, I claim no expertise. In 1997 I couldn't understand why people were so in love with Titanic. In 2009 I thought the exact same thing. But damn if he didn't break his own record. And with an "original" idea, no less. So maybe he just gets what people want to see, and I don't.
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1:15PM on 07/06/2015
This is the best and most accurate post I have read on joblo for awhile. I agree with every single point made and personal opinions.
This is the best and most accurate post I have read on joblo for awhile. I agree with every single point made and personal opinions.
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12:00PM on 07/06/2015

Can't deny his talent but

He does innovate and the man has talent but he really hasn't done anything good since maybe True Lies. Titanic, even though it looks amazing and the amount of work he put in was crazy, the movie was a snoozefest up until the boat started sinking. Avatar, which again is innovative but the movie was just not very good. Why it was considered for an Oscar other than for FX, I have no clue. I hate to bash on the guy because he did make some amazing movies and he puts a lot of heart into his
He does innovate and the man has talent but he really hasn't done anything good since maybe True Lies. Titanic, even though it looks amazing and the amount of work he put in was crazy, the movie was a snoozefest up until the boat started sinking. Avatar, which again is innovative but the movie was just not very good. Why it was considered for an Oscar other than for FX, I have no clue. I hate to bash on the guy because he did make some amazing movies and he puts a lot of heart into his projects.

I know i'm going to get hate for this but In my opinion, the movies you have listed as his "top 5" are his only good ones.
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10:47AM on 07/06/2015

Maybe Cameron...

is getting a kick back for his favorable comments about "Terminator Genisys", stranger things have happened...
is getting a kick back for his favorable comments about "Terminator Genisys", stranger things have happened...
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8:03AM on 07/06/2015
Cameron is badass indeed. I like that he sort of innovates and invents the technology to accommodate his movies i.e. deep sea diving for both The Abyss and Titanic or computer animation for T-1000 to make it looks very realistic. Particularly Terminator 2, it's been two decades but the special effects still look as fresh as ever. I'd say his best work is Terminator 2 and most underrated work is The Abyss.
Cameron is badass indeed. I like that he sort of innovates and invents the technology to accommodate his movies i.e. deep sea diving for both The Abyss and Titanic or computer animation for T-1000 to make it looks very realistic. Particularly Terminator 2, it's been two decades but the special effects still look as fresh as ever. I'd say his best work is Terminator 2 and most underrated work is The Abyss.
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-3
1:39AM on 07/06/2015
The most over-rated director of all time!
I was in fits looking at his face when the ex-wife won the Oscar instead of him.
The most over-rated director of all time!
I was in fits looking at his face when the ex-wife won the Oscar instead of him.
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10:14AM on 07/06/2015
Overrated?! Listen, dummy, go back to sucking your thumb and reading comic books. Leave the filmmaking to the pros.
Overrated?! Listen, dummy, go back to sucking your thumb and reading comic books. Leave the filmmaking to the pros.
+0
12:07AM on 07/06/2015

The Abyss was fine....

....but if you look at the directors cut it wanders into idiocy (pretty boldly). If that cut had been the one released, the movie would have flopped terribly. Also, his portrayal of the military was a shocking caricature that belies a major bigotry on his part.....not shocking considering his future work on Avatar was even worse.

Aliens and the Terminator films were wonderful, but Avatar was an embarrassment (albeit a beautiful one). The idea that audiences are going to flock to
....but if you look at the directors cut it wanders into idiocy (pretty boldly). If that cut had been the one released, the movie would have flopped terribly. Also, his portrayal of the military was a shocking caricature that belies a major bigotry on his part.....not shocking considering his future work on Avatar was even worse.

Aliens and the Terminator films were wonderful, but Avatar was an embarrassment (albeit a beautiful one). The idea that audiences are going to flock to multiple sequels of that half-baked film is laughable.
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12:29PM on 07/06/2015
I still understand how Avatar made as much money as it did. It wan't very good. Maybe because of the whole 3D craze at the time. I also don't see why we need 3 more either.
I still understand how Avatar made as much money as it did. It wan't very good. Maybe because of the whole 3D craze at the time. I also don't see why we need 3 more either.
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