James Cameron is clearly one very talented and highly visual filmmaker. His affinity for science fiction is equally evident, given that six of the eight movies he’s directed are in that genre. While there may be better Cameron movies, in box-office terms, here are the three movies that make for the master filmmaker’s finest hour (well, eight hours and 33 minutes, to be precise).
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) – $520,881 worldwide
While Titanic pulled in bigger numbers at the box office, Judgment day remains the better film. The sequel to the 1986 hit worked within the strict confinement of a sci-fi action blockbuster, with just a single scene flooring the viewer with an emotional knockout. The T-800, who spends the whole movie beating people to a pulp, when not blowing things up, shrilled into nothing at the end. Anyone who failed to cry at that scene must be bordering on real-life Terminator. The franchise is among the most popular to come out of the 80’s, and while those from T3 onwards have failed to impress, Terminator remains popular culture gold. The T-800 even appears at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seatle, Washington. The endless merchandise includes the video game Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and the more recent Terminator 2 online slot, available from casinogames.ca, which includes real clips and the original score from the film; along with 243 ways to win.
Titanic (1997) – $2,187.463 worldwide
It’s actually quite odd to watch Avatar and Terminator 2, and Avatar, knowing that they were made by the same filmmaker. There’s such a jagged tone shift among the movies, it boggles the mind that each is a Cameron creation. The director’s obsessive attention to detail is on full display here. He approached every single background artiste on set, giving their characters backstories. He ensured that the length of time it took for the iceberg collision to occur in the film was the same as it took in real life. He even created a replica of the first-class cabins and took five dives to the wreckage, in order to get a proper look at the ship. His harsh on-set tactics were in full swing here. One particular crew member became so bitter towards the director that he drugged cast and crew with PCP, causing 50 to end up in hospital.
Avatar (2009) – $2,787,965 worldwide
Avatar is brilliant as an exercise in what could technically be achieved in cinema. 3D had never been used as innovatively or impressively as this. The visual storytelling was superb, and the first showing offered the viewer a vast world to explore. Spectacle aside, however, this isn’t a movie that makes a lasting impact in the mind of the viewer. For a film that made the money that it did, it failed to leave any kind of significant cultural mark. The performances fell flat, the story was poorly threaded together, and without cinema 3D, it failed to translate. Avatar 2 is expected to be released in UK cinemas on December 18, 2020.
Of course, Cameron has made other great movies, such as True Lies and Aliens; which didn’t perform too badly at the box office, either, thank you very much Although, the less said about Piranha 2, the better.