Canadian-born James Cameron cut his teeth in movies with Roger Corman. His first job in the industry was for Corman's Battle Beyond the Stars working as an art director/miniature set builder/process projection supervisor. A year later he directed the inauspicious Piranha Part Two: The Spawning. But less than two decades later he was accepting an Oscar for Titanic. Now his Avatar is the top grossing film of all time. He's also worked his way through a series of film industry marriages beginning with producer Gale Ann Hurd, moving on to director Kathryn Bigelow, and then actress Linda Hamilton.
James Cameron is on top of the world with his sci-fi adventure Avatar breaking all sorts of box office records and breaking new ground with state of the art 3D technology. At the Comic-Con panel for Avatar he confessed that the initial impetus for creating the film was a "mercenary" one because as the CEO of Digital Domain, Cameron wanted to create a project that would showcase his effects house: "So in the same way that I wrote Terminator just to get a directing gig, I decided to write a story that was full of creatures and characters that would push the art of CG for that company." But the story had to sit on the shelf while Digital Domain developed the technology needed to tell his tale.
Cameron – along with a team of NASA researchers and marine biologists – sets off to explore the Mid-Ocean Ridge, a submerged chain of mountains that are home to some of the world's most unusual life forms. The ghostly creatures inhabiting the chilly ocean floor prompt Cameron to exclaim, "This is much more exciting than Hollywood special effects." Indeed!
Titanic proved titanic at the box office by drawing tween girls back to the theater for repeated viewings of Leonardo DiCaprio pining over Kate Winslet. The ship sunk faster in real life than in the film, but the visual effects for the ship going down are spectacular on the big screen. Gloria Stuart, who plays Kate Winslet's character as an old woman, became the oldest person to be nominated for an Oscar. She was 87. Cameron won three Oscars for the film: directing, producing, and editing.
James Cameron served as writer and producer for his then ex-wife and director Kathryn Bigelow. The film, a dark tale set in 1999 Los Angeles, was a mixed bag. The story involved a former cop who discovers data-discs containing memories and emotions of people, including those of a murderer and rapist. The wildly uneven film suggests that maybe exes don't bring out the best in each other.
A ridiculous action film with Arnold Schwarzenegger as a spy and Jamie Lee Curtis as his wife who is blissfully ignorant of what her husband really does for a living. The film strains all credibility, displays some atrocious racial stereotypes, and feigns feminism while simultaneously displaying offensive sexism. Action comedy with a romantic twist is not Cameron's forte.
The sequel to The Terminator might have been more interesting if Arnold Schwarzenegger had been willing to play both the good and the evil terminator. But now that he was a star and was more conscious of his image, he said no more baddies for him. (Although a CGI Arnold does appear in a cameo in Terminator Salvation as a baddie).
James Cameron's success with The Terminator led to a Hollywood gig taking on a franchise film. But Cameron was an odd choice to follow up Ridley Scott, and Cameron's take on the aliens was very different from that of Scott. Although the film begins to reveal Cameron's proclivity for bloat and inability to tighten up his films, it still delivers a solid action flick with great supporting work from Cameron favorites Michael Biehn and Bill Paxton.
This early film is in many ways Cameron's best. It's lean and mean and delivers the goods in efficient, gritty fashion. After this I don't think Cameron ever again reined in a film under two-hours (which is why it's so ironic that he won an Oscar for best editing). Arnold Schwarzenegger is great as the relentless killing machine while Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn give the film its humanity. Sci-fi author Harlan Ellison did sue Cameron alleging the film plagiarized two Outer Limits episodes Ellison wrote. The case was settled out of court and some prints now give a credit to Ellison.
James Cameron is the credited director but the film's producer, Ovidio G. Assonitis, supposedly did much of the work. The innovation in this particular film is that the piranha can fly. Cameron has been quoted as saying: "I believe The Spawning was the finest flying piranha movie ever made." 'Nuff said.