james cameron -king of the world

Discussion in 'Movies' started by chris winters, Jul 6, 2004.

  1. chris winters

    chris winters Second Unit

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    I thought I would bring up a thread about the big man now that hes rumored to be saddling up once again. Hes one of my favorate directors, and heres my 2 cents on his various movies.

    terminator - an action staple. Revolutionary from a technical standpoint, and introduced the world to the biggest action star of his generation, Arnold S. Still works today despite some now dated effects. Visceral storytelling, and a storyline geeks cant help but love. Well crafted, and raw. oneof my faves.

    rambo, first blood - mediocre sequel.(writer) Abandoned the real life feel and underdog nature of the origional. Over the top, silly action and 80s republican tub thumping. Not his finest hour.

    aliens -possible my favorate cameron movie. Great story, great heart, gripping action. Nicely directed, he does a masterful job at creating mood, and capturing the atmosphere of aliens, without bogging it down emotionally. one of his best.

    the abyss -a flawed classic. Came closer to being great, then Al Gore to being president. Cut one action set piece, restore some of the lost footage, and nail down the stories finale, and you have yourself an amazing movie. He loves his characters, but he puts them through hell, and you feel for them. Beautifully shot and sets some of the groundwork for what he would use it Titanic.SOOOO close.

    terminator 2 -amazing pop piece of action entertainment. Yes it loses some of its sci-fi seriousness of the origional, but more then makes of for it with innovative, jaw dropping action set pieces, and never before seen CG effects. They sell out Arnolds character a touch, by making him the hero, but all in all one of his best.

    true lies -kind of great, but not as close to nailing it as the Abyss. Arnold is slightly miscast, without the range or subtlety the role requires, but is saved by jamie lee curtis, the real star of the movie. Some of the lines are downright crass, with way to many sexual double entandres having to do with computer hacking, fighting etc...Makes the characters come off as adolescent rather then dangerious professionals, or macho. Also attempts humor, which unfortunetly is not as natural for cameron as straight out action. The whole thing, as with all cameron movies, benifits from an amzing sense of production values, with beautiful photography, and one of a kind set pieces. Introduced the world to future budding star Elizu Dukshu, and makes tom arnold a pseudo authentic character actor.

    stange days -story - not bad, from a story point of view. there is a helluva movie here somewhere. Unfortunetly the potential isnt quite realized, and its a bit of a mess.

    titanic- hard to say what hasnt been said. He made cinema history with the most succsessful movie of all time. You have specticle, disaster, and action for the guys, a romance, period meledrama, and leo for the girls, and once again absolutely amazing production values to make the whole thing feel one of a kind, and first rate. Well told, a true epic, despite some clunky romantic lines, and a slightly irritating billy zane who all but twirls his mustache while talking.

    what does everyone else think?
     
  2. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    Where is Pirahna 2: The Spawning?

    "terminator - an action staple. Revolutionary from a technical standpoint."

    It was? How so? It was trend-setting for Cameron...it was the first film he directed in which a woman grabbed a man by his short collar and screamed at him (an action repeated in many other Cameron films, including Titanic)

    "titanic- hard to say what hasnt been said. He made cinema history with the most succsessful movie of all time."

    Gone With the Wind is the most successful movie of all time.

    "what does everyone else think?"

    I think he needs to stop writing his own screenplays. He can do the story, but he needs others to write his dialogue. "Hippy? That guy don't know his butt from a rat-hole!" (shudder)
     
  3. MikeRS

    MikeRS Screenwriter

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    Rambo, First Blood Part 2--

    Cameron's script was rewritten by Stallone.

    According to Big Jim, the action's mine...the politics, Stallone.
     
  4. Dennis Pagoulatos

    Dennis Pagoulatos Supporting Actor

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    As far as I'm concerned, he's the BEST director of action working in the Hollywood system for the last 20 years. No one else can direct, photograph, and edit an action set piece better than James Cameron. Ever wonder what the HELL is going on during all those action scenes (even in embarrasingly expensive blockbusters) of pretty much every film released in the 90's and so far this century?? ME TOO!! You never know because the director hasn't got a f***ing clue how to shoot the scene and maintain any sense of space. Cameron makes it look so easy it's silly. I agree that he needs to let others write the screenplays, perhaps the story ideas can be his, but leave the dialogue to someone else...anybody else!! [​IMG]

    -Dennis
     
  5. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    Well 20 years from now would have been 1983, so James Cameron is competing with some damn amazing action directors. Steven Spielberg chief among them - to my knowledge, James Cameron has never crafted any sustained action sequence on par with the beach landing in Saving Private Ryan, nor has he directed anything on par with the concluding half-hour of that same film. Advantage: Spielberg.
     
  6. Dennis Pagoulatos

    Dennis Pagoulatos Supporting Actor

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    Nope can't agree there. The beach landing is nice, but remember almost the whole of SPR is shot in a faux documentary style which is meant to heighten the confusion and disorientation of battle, so I probably wouldn't include it in a discussion of pure action scenes (especially scenes that excel at NOT disorienting the viewer, whether on purpose or not!). Plus, in terms of editing there are numerous sequences more coherently and artfully done in T2: Judgement Day (no point in comparing the films themselves since they are vastly different animals obviously). The semi/ motorcycle chase starting with the arrival of the 2 terminators at the mall (even before the actual action begins) until said semi blows up under the bridge is so expertly constructed and paced it's amazing. Even Cameron's lesser films like "True Lies" show off his abilities with action such as the opening "Escape from the Chateau" scene. It's the greatest James Bond chase scene NEVER in a James Bond film. [​IMG] If I had to choose an action scene by Spielberg that compares I would probably put the truck chase in Raiders high up on the list; a very nicely done scene in a superior film.

    Advantage: Cameron. [​IMG]

    Who has the better films overall? Spielberg easily wins.

    -Dennis
     
  7. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Dennis,
    That's quite a reach on your part.







    Crawdaddy
     
  8. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    I do agree with Dennis that Cameron is a better director of action than Spielberg. And Spielberg is a master. But his one example, SPR, is brilliant, but also the emotional content is created from actual historical events, not necessarily the mind of the director. Contrast that with the extraordinary variety of action setpieces Cameron has done (from Aliens in particular, a film that can make the immortal Jaws seem ordinary) throughout his shorter career. T2, True Lies, The Abyss, and Aliens - the variety and creativity (and competence) on display in these films to me indicates an incomparable talent at directing action scenes. Aliens is a F***ing CLINIC on making an action movie.

    When Spielberg wanted to PRAISE AOTC's action scenes in 2002, what did he do? He compared Lucas' action scenes to Jim Camerons (he was off-the-mark IMO...they weren't even close). True or not...Spielberg considered that the highest form of praise. And so do I [​IMG]

    Two very different directors, both amazingly talented. Spielberg is the better director, hands down. But I'd take Cameron on the action any day of the week.

    Take care,
    Chuck
     
  9. Andrew 'Ange Hamm' Hamm

    Andrew 'Ange Hamm' Hamm Supporting Actor

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    I've got to stick up for Cameron as the best action sequence storyteller of all time. The reason Titanic works is certainly not the love scenes or the dialogue, it's the way he keeps the audience aware of just how close the water is getting for the last 90 minutes of the film. With all of his great films, and they are many, the audience never has any doubt of where the characters are, what they are doing it, why they are doing it, and how much time is left. That sounds fairly basic, but it's awfully rare these days, and very hard to do.

    Spielberg a better director? Oh, hell yes. I'd love to see Cameron directing stuff he didn't write. Ditto for Kevin Smith, incidentally.
     
  10. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I think it's the other way around for Kevin Smith: write, do not direct.

    --
    H
     
  11. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    [​IMG]

    Ernest beat me to it. [​IMG]

    I agree with several other folks. Cameron is simply an awesome action director.
     
  12. Sean Moon

    Sean Moon Cinematographer

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    Cameron is one of the best action directors ever, I do agree. His writing may be somewhat cliched sometimes, but I enjoy everything I am watching so much I dont realize how bad the dialogue is, or the dialogue comes off as cool. If that makes any sense. His directing seems effortless and assured. It is really hard to nail down a "Cameron Style" and describe it, as he doesnt seem to have many trademark camera things that he does, besides having an affinity for blue in his cinematography.
    Almost all his action is flawless and easy to follow, yet still leaves you breathless before the end. Stuff in Bruckheimer movies seems to be forcing the action on you like "look what we did! we are so cool!" while Cameron's action comes across as amazing without seeming forced or calling attention to itself. Truly a master filmaker. And where the hell is his new movie!?
     
  13. MikeRS

    MikeRS Screenwriter

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    It's both. You're kidding yourself if you discount Leo and Kate's performances in that backdrop, and Cameron's crafting and direction of them. Keeping such an intimate focus/dynamic within an incredibly well crafted spectacle, is what stirred folks around the world. If the "love story" dynamics didn't hold up or work harmoniously against the spectacle, it would not have become the phenomenon it was.
     
  14. MikeRS

    MikeRS Screenwriter

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    Cameron has equaled but not bested what I consider Spielberg's greatest action set-pieces:

    -Duel (This probably had a huge influence on Cameron's style in the Terminator series)

    -Jaws (The 3rd act, especially the climax)

    -Indiana Jones Trilogy(It's like the textbook of incredibly crafted action spectacle)

    -Jurassic Park (Cameron was in awe of the T-Rex and Raptor sequences.)

    -Saving Private Ryan (The opening and final battles have the kind of sustained emotion and spectacle, only Cameron has approached.)
     
  15. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    Mike speaks the truth.
     
  16. Sean Moon

    Sean Moon Cinematographer

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    I think the reason a lot of people discount Spielberg's action prowess is that he does so many other things well in his films, where Cameron is most renouned for action. The examples listed above are great for Spielberg's action know how.
     
  17. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    I speak the truth as well [​IMG]

    Call them equal. That doesn't bother me.

    As for the Titanic comment, I'll thank Mike for sparing me from my fanboy routine [​IMG] I will defend Camerons abilities as a writer. Titanic worked on MANY levels because Cameron made it do so. Some of the dialogue that we (probably rightly) think is poor got plenty of laughs in the theater.

    Titanic was an INCLUSIVE movie, and this is why it had great success. His script is a marvel of economy and directness; while being the OLDEST story in the book, it still radiated (yes, Leo and Kate helped tremendously) freshness and honesty. While his dialogue may not be as layered and subtle as we would like, his story structure, set-ups and payoffs are excellent.

    Back to the action thing...again I'll simply mention Aliens and slip off. The closest SS came to that (and probably what JC used as a basic template) was the marvelous Jaws. And T2 is a landmark action film. Both are easily in the (now infamous Chuck Mayer's) top five action films from the last three decades.

    Equal. I'll live with that [​IMG]

    Take care,
    Chuck
     
  18. Dennis Pagoulatos

    Dennis Pagoulatos Supporting Actor

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    I wouldn't call them equals...I think they are very different directors with strengths and weaknesses. But I think given the variety of effortlessly done (and HUGELY complicated) action set pieces that Cameron has directed, he deserves the title "Best Action Director". Not to be too much of a fanboy (right with you there, Chuck [​IMG]), but it's Cameron's action scenes that I've felt the need to marvel at and dissect down to the gnats eyebrow, not Spielberg's, and that includes the phenomenal SPR. Jurassic Park? Junk IMO. Give me Raiders, then we can talk. [​IMG]

    Chuck, I think AOTC action scenes are amazingly done as well, and Lucas deserves the praise for that last 30 minutes of the film. I know many disagree because of the dreaded CGI that we all loathe so much, but the clone battle is incredible.

    The only movies that I've dissected more than some of Cameron's work are the Star Wars films, especially the ROTJ space battle. Lucas is no slouch himself (he was heavily involved in ROTJ though he didn't officially direct).

    I know I'll get flamed for this, but I'm used to it: I think Peter Jackson should have let Cameron direct the battle scenes in LOTR, they would have been about 10000X better. Hey, it's shaky, way too-close-up cam...AGAIN, so I don't have any clue what the hell is going on or who's doing what to whom with what medieval weaponry! [​IMG]

    Flame away, LOTR fans! [​IMG]

    -Dennis
     
  19. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    One of Cameron's great strengths is that he WRITES his own action scenes. He integrates them seamlessly into the story, and even more appropriately, he can integrate them into the themes of his story. Beyond his ability to put the camera in the right place, and cut the right number of frames together to make it work, it's the fundamental understanding of exciting the viewer by 1) putting him there and 2) letting him understand the action. The viewer feels the conflict in a great action scene. Cameron sets his narrative up for success, then performs a remarkable technical accomplishment in getting it done.

    DP, we'll have to disagree on AOTC. It has serviceable action scenes, and I do like the faux documentary method of shooting the Geonosis battle, but Cameron (and a few others) would have hit a farging grandslam out of those sequences. It was technically well-done, and the CG was flawless. But the beats weren't nearly as well done, and set-up not nearly as creative as Cameron could do. I like that Spielberg thinks that comparison is high praise though. I hold out very high hopes for the action in EIII...especially the opening battle sequence (which was done as much by the effects weenies as by Lucas, if I read the info correctly). FWIW, I LOVE the LOTR films, but the action sequences in TTT and ROTK aren't nearly as well done as the rest of the films. Though Mines of Moria is brilliant filmmaking, entrance to exit. I'd pay cash money to see Cameron execute the Eowyn/Witchking showdown.

    To each their own. I said I'd be happy with equal, because SPR's opening, Minority Report, and the incomparable Raiders aren't bad company.

    Maybe not Aliens, but...
     
  20. PaulP

    PaulP Producer

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    So... what's Cameron up to nowadays? Wasn't Titanic his last film?
     

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