For Cameron’s expertise in atmosphere, research, and camerawork, he certainly lacks in characterization and storytelling. His weakness in that area was hidden in his early movies that focused almost solely on action, at which he’s a master. But with Titanic and (from what I’ve heard, Avatar), he really is in over his head.
True Lies: The first time I saw this I had a temperature of 104 and thought I was going to die. From strep throat, not the movie. There’s some good action here in the vein of Die Hard, and Jamie Lee Curtis is just about perfect. But Tom Arnold is pretty obnoxious and the scene with the horse lost me completely. I wish it had gone for either complete farce or complete seriousness.
Titanic: DiCaprio and Winslet are amazing actors but not even they could save one of the worst romantic plots I’ve seen. It’s a tragedy, since Cameron does a fantastic job with the actual ship and the actual people on the ship. He is able to evoke a decent amount of emotion with the stories of the crew and those in the lower classes. But the script for the added characters is a complete hatchet job. Billy Zane is so sneeringly evil you wonder why he wasn’t given a twirly mustache.
Aliens: I don’t like this as much as Ridley’s film as I prefer a more slowly building tension, but it’s still an example of a good action movie. Good acting and shot well.
The Terminator: The perfect role for Schwarzenegger, and good casting with Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton. It’s nice to have a heroine who is strong but actually seems like an every day person. Good tension. I love the way Cameron keeps things dark and generally slower-paced for most of the movie. Special effects lack at times. I’m also crazy about the soundtrack.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Much like the sequel to Alien, T2 is less about suspense and more about action. When I saw this in 1991 I was blown away by the special effects and they still hold up every well to this day. In fact, “liquid metal,” instantly became a new thing in the vocabulary of most people I knew. Exceptional casting with Robert Patrick; he absolutely kills it as the villain and the movie isn’t the masterpiece it is without him. Eddie Furlong’s first acting experience, and despite some troubles with projecting, I think Cameron directs him well. I believe this kid and his emotional turmoil. And talk about a transformation for Linda Hamilton.
Other James Cameron Movies You May Have Seen
Piranha Part Two: The Spawning