World of Westfahl | Encyclopedia Introduction | All Entries | Acknowledgements
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

C Entries
  Edward L. Cahn
  Sir Michael Caine
  James Cameron
  Lewis John Carlino
  Richard Carlson
  John Carradine
  Helena Bonham Carter
  Leo G. Carroll
  Maurice Cass
  Lon Chaney
  Lon Chaney, Jr.
  John Cho
  Arthur C. Clarke
  Phyllis Coates
  Joan Collins
  Sir Sean Connery
  Roger Corman
  Buster Crabbe
  Richard Crane
  Tom Cruise
  Peter Cushing
(1954– ). Canadian director, writer, producer.

Directed: Xenogenesis (co-directed, and co-wrote and co-produced, with Randall Frakes) (short) (1978); Piranha II: The Spawning (1981); The Terminator (and co-wrote with Gale Anne HURD) (1984); Aliens (1986); Martini Ranch: Reach (short) (1988); The Abyss (1989); The Abyss: Special Edition (1989); Terminator 2: Judgment Day (and co-wrote with William Wisher) (1991); True Lies (and co-edited, uncredited, with Conrad Buff, Mark Goldblatt, and Richard A. Harris) (1994); T2 3-D: Battle across Time (with John Bruno and Stan WINSTON) (1996); Titanic (and wrote; and edited with Buff and Harris) (1997); "Freak Nation" (and story with Charles H. Eglee) (2002), episode of Dark Angel; Avatar (and wrote; and edited with John Refoua and Stephen Rivkin) (2009).

Co-wrote with Jay Cocks, co-edited (uncredited) with Howard Smith, and produced: Strange Days (Kathryn Bigelow 1995).

Produced: Dark Angel (tv series) (and created with Eglee) (2000-2002); Solaris (Steven Soderbergh 2002).

Production designer and second-unit director: Galaxy of Terror (Bruce D. Clark 1981).

Visual effects: Battle Beyond the Stars (Jimmy T. Murakawi and Roger CORMAN, uncredited 1980); Escape from New York (John CARPENTER 1981); Apollo 13 (uncredited consultant) (Ron HOWARD 1995).

Film based on his and Hurd's work: The Terminator: Dawn of Fate (video game) (J.D. Smith 2002); Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (Jonathan Mostow 2003); Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (video game) (2003); Terminator 3: Redemption (video game) (Shawn Wright and Smith 2004);  Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (tv series) (2008-2009); Terminator Salvation (McG 2009).

By now, I suppose, you must be expecting me to say something about James Cameron, now that he is supplanting Steven SPIELBERG as today's most popular and profitable director of science fiction films. Don't expect an overabundance of enthusiasm.

Might I get away with a brief summary? James Cameron has an uncanny knack for coming up with "original" screen stories that usually—though not always—manage to barely escape legal claims of plagiarism. He is an absolute master at overseeing magnificent cinematic entertainments that will entrance even the most resistant of filmgoers. And, despite his own pretensions to the contrary, he is a filmmaker with absolutely nothing to say, who embarrasses himself whenever he says it.

Cameron is at his best, then, when accompanied by a strong personality, like producer and ex-wife Gale Anne HURD or action star Arnold SCHWARZENEGGER, to impose restraint upon his tendency toward bloated, self-indulgent excess. The results in those cases? Others might rave about the taut energy and surprising intelligence of The Terminator, or the way that Cameron made Aliens a much better adaptation of Robert A. HEINLEIN's Starship Troopers than the official Paul VERHOEVEN version (did Heinlein consider suing?).  But I think my favorite Cameron film is True Lies, a superbly crafted, utterly mindless action film with compelling action scenes balanced by precisely the right amount of domestic comedy as to placate the wives and girlfriends who were dragged into the theatre to watch it. (And while we're celebrating schlock, let's not forget his beginnings as a nifty special-effects artist for colorful time-wasters like Battle Beyond the Stars, Galaxy of Terror, and Escape from New York.)

As for his other films: well, surely the marriage to Hurd fell apart, and she effectively abandoned their final project, when it became apparent that there was nothing she could do to rescue the sinking ship that was The Abyss. Do I have to say anything about Titanic simply because of the fleeting element of fantasy in its saccharine conclusion?  Someday, I promise, I will force myself to sit through the whole thing and offer an informed opinion. Its chief virtue is that, for a while, the money that movie earned encouraged Cameron to restrict his directorial outings to inoffensive documentaries while he presided as producer over other directors' follies. But then, out of and into the blue, came Avatar, about which I have waxed eloquent in another venue. In a nutshell, all the trolls in cyberspace will never alter my view that it is little more than a vexing mixture of visual excitement and intellectual mush. Members of the Academy must have agreed, which is why they gave another of Cameron's ex-wives, Kathryn Bigelow, the directing Oscar for not directing Avatar, and her film the Best Picture Award for not being Avatar.

Looking toward the future, our best hope is that, after a number of successful lawsuits, Cameron will give up plans for a sequel to Avatar, upon realizing that he would have to share the rewards with the innumerable people who can present a convincing case involving stolen ideas in the original film, and instead decide to do something else—perhaps teaming up with a certain ex-governor of California and a certain ex-wife and producer to offer a 3-D sequel to True Lies? Or maybe, for once, actually purchasing the rights to a published science fiction story as the basis for a screen epic? (Perhaps, to compensate Orson Scott Card for dragooning him into writing the novelization of The Abyss, he could tackle Ender's Game, an ideal vehicle for a director with a flair for sound and fury, signifying nothing.) Still, given his recent track record, I must report that he now has something else (other than fabulous, inexplicable success) in common with Spielberg: I watch his films only when somebody pays me to review them. And since I'm not getting paid for writing this entry, and since its topic brings me no joy, forgive me its abrupt conclusion.

To contact us about encyclopedia matters, send an email to Gary Westfahl.
If you find any Web site errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to our Webmaster.
Copyright © 1999–2018 Gary Westfahl All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Hosted & Designed By:
SF Site spot art