James Cameron


1984
The Terminator 90
[ I hadn’t seen the original in years and I’m surprised by how well it holds up despite some dated special effects and distracting ‘80s music and hairstyles. Schwarzenegger is at his iconic badass best as the killing machine and there’s tragic emotional resonance to the story of a man who travels back in time to save a woman he loves even though he’s only seen a picture of her. Cameron can craft thrilling action scenes like the best of them and this is a practically uninterrupted chase/shoot-out, stopping only to sketch out an intriguing post-apocalyptic possible future. Trivia note: I noticed for the first time that the blue-haired punk the Terminator kills in the first scene is played by Bill Paxton! ]


1986
Aliens 92
[ review ]


1989
The Abyss 68
[ It starts like “Armageddon”, as oil rig workers are drafted by the army to save the day -in this case, by conducting a rescue operation for a sunk nuclear submarine- and it ends up like something out of “2001”. I’m not sure what’s with Cameron’s deep sea fixation and the Cold War stuff is heavy-handed (in the Special Edition, at least), but as a study in Shit Happens, this is pretty intense. Then there’s the spooky “non-terrestrial intelligence”, Ed Harris’ touching reconnection with his ex-wife, a brutal fight with a crazy Navy SEAL… And that final dive? Whoa. ]


1991
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 90
[ review ]


1994
True Lies 85
[ review ]


1997
Titanic 91
[ review ]

FYI: I won’t be reviewing Cameron’s undersea documentaries. I’m holding out hope he’ll make another kickass movie-movie at some point.

(flash forward years later)

Ask and you shall receive: it took more than a decade, but Cameron is back and how!


2009
Avatar 95
[ review ]