Tuesday, September 14, 2004


James Cameron Needs To Make A Movie That Sucks Already.

I came to this conclusion last night while discussing THX 1138 with my buddy Mike (read my THX review here if you missed it).

Like how the cloistered life led by George Lucas has sapped whatever experimental drive he once had, the post-Titanic lovefest chained James Cameron and continues to hold him back.

From a posting on Ain't It Cool News, we learn that Cameron is producing yet another underwater project, this time a combination IMAX documentary/science fiction project called Aliens of the Deep. As Moriarty calls it:

Evidently, Cameron's planning to take footage from these underwater expeditions in which he recorded footage of the insane lifeforms that appear around underwater hot vents and transpose it to the moon of Europa, adding in CG backgrounds and filling out the world to show you what life on another planet might look like.

All these worlds are yours, except Europa. . .

Okay, I'm a space geek. I'm sure this will all be very pretty to look at, and I might even learn a thing or two. But can someone please tell me how these vanity projects are a valid substitute for making, you know, feature-length motion pictures?

First the hokum with Dark Angel (yawn), then Ghosts of the Titanic, now this. James Cameron needs to put out a real movie, and soon.

Because it will suck.


I say this because when you combine his prior achievements with his extended absence you get a recipe for impossible expectations.

All the buildup to his next movie, whatever it ends up being, will render his audience incapable of a fair judgment. No matter how good it is, no matter how many fanboys profess to love it, it will be called a disappointment by some, probably many. It's an unavoidable byproduct of hype.

Then again, I suspect that whatever film Cameron ends up doing will actually, objectively, suck. Given how many years he's been away from real filmmaking, Cameron's likely to choose a project that appeals more to his exiled mind instead of to a real-live audience. The subject will necessarily be something that personally resonates enough in order to get him to leave his exile. Personal resonance is not a bad thing, but mix together unlimited resources, a gaggle of well-paid sycophants, and a story "that speaks to him," and I smell a Heaven's Gate.

Now, all of this completely ignores another vote in favor of my "James Cameron's Next Flop" thesis. All reports point towards Cameron intending his return movie be based on Battle Engine Alita. Alita is some of the densest manga to come along in years, and it's almost guaranteed to be too weird for American audiences (hell, it's too weird for *human* audiences, but I don't profess to understand the deal with Japan). Alita might have a Matrix-vibe going, but after the two Matrix sequels flopped hard, where exactly is the audience for more mechanistic neo-mystic cyber-punk martial arts right now?

I'm king of my poolhouse! And of my ten-car garage!

Now, I'm not criticizing James Cameron for his past work. Both Terminator flicks, the ambitious failure Abyss, Titanic, and Aliens (one of the rare "perfect movies") are all exceptional films. Hell, even Piranha 2: The Spawning has its moments. C'mon, its got flying killer fish-- FLYING KILLER FISH, PEOPLE.

I completely trust that Cameron has it in him to make exceptional films once again. I just don't see how his next film can be one. Thus, I urge him to just hurry it up already, make the movie, dump it out there, and then move on to his next flick. If it's good, great-- but don't go into it thinking you're going to make a work of art. Don't build it up.

Then again, perhaps I'm being too harsh. A lot of folks said the same thing about Quentin Tarantino-- he needs to make more movies, he goofs off with side projects, his oft-imitated style is now a cliche of a cliche, etc. Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2 certainly proved his critics wrong. I would love it if James Cameron was able to pull off a similar feat, but I don't sense the same hunger and curiosity in Cameron as one does in Tarantino.

Ya know, I used to gripe the same gripe about Steven Spielberg, and how he never made movies fast enough, and so we got stuck with at best one of his movies a year. Well, now it seem as if he's making movies every other month. None of his recent films are even remotely as good as his earlier work, but at least he's working. We're not going to wake up the day Spielberg is no longer with us and say, "Gee, such talent wasted; if only he had made more movies." Two good Spielberg flicks are not worth one great Spielberg flick, but I'll take movies like Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal over waiting a year for crap like Hook.

Bottom line: James Cameron needs to work, he needs to work now, he needs to just get back into the groove already.

Any series that would bring us Jessica Alba cannot be "yawn".
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