Cameron isn't an auteur or a writing virtuoso. He's no Michael Bay either. (That's a compliment) Sure he knows how to pack a cinemas and for the most part keep them happy. He knows what movie goers want. A spectacle. A visual feast with a hero and an identifiable enemy. He then sets their battles around impressive set pieces. Sure he loves to pick up where someone left off and try to out do it with a sequel. And as hard as it is sometimes he achieves it. Well here's my list, read it, critique it and let me know what you think!
1. The Terminator
3. True Lies
4. The Abyss
7. Piranha 2: The Spawning
Terminator - Is an understandable classic of the genre and nailed the tone and aesthetic of the story. Arnie was literally born to play this role. Michael Biehn more than held his own and the concept particularly in the 80's just grabbed audiences. The one-liners work here as they aren't over used and pacing is fantastic. Hasn't dated a bit.
Aliens - Very different from the Ridley Scott original but is just as good in a different way. Here Cameron shows what he can do visually and get a team to display a vision for the common goal. Keeps up with his common theme of very strong female protagonists and the battles are epic. Very close to Terminator but just missed out.
True Lies - If Cameron doesn't understand Arnies strengths and weaknesses then nobody does. Tom Arnold is the perfect foil and more than pulls his weight and Jamie Lee Curtis is at her best. Then in comes 'Wild' Bill Paxton in a cameo that almost steals the show. Quite a clever move also.
The Abyss - I didn't mind this when I first saw this as a youngster but on follow up screenings it is a bloody good flick. Ed Harris used this as a platform to really show his chops and he carries the movie from good to very good. Great effects at the time probably hindered the movie as being too large a budget but if you haven't seen it give it a go.
T2 - We all love the music and the liquid metal and Robert Patrick was a great fit for the role but... It's dated. It's too 90's grunge and Ed Furlong while not being bad isn't great either. Visually another great effort but couldn't crack the top 4.
Titanic - I don't think Cameron was joking when he said on Entourage, 'I just wanted to make girls cry.' It's a chick flick with an impressive sinking ship scene. Kate Winslet does have a nice set of ta-ta's though.
P2 - For a directorial debut in the common ground of horror this is by the numbers and cheesy. The effects aren't great and the acting is worse but I've seen this twice and that more than I'll see Avatar.
Avatar - I may be a victim of the hype or maybe the movie is as bad as I recall. Cameron was very focused on the new technologies and I believe he kept bending a script to stretch the limitations of 3D. Average acting, very average story line with some laughably forced heart and oh my god a sequel I won't be rushing to see.
There you have you may not agree but that's okay that's what make film so interesting.
Until then hail to that dance!