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Friday, August 16, 2013

Happy Birthday: James Cameron

James Cameron was born August 16, 1954. He is a filmmaker famous for having the top two highest-grossing films of all time (Avatar and Titanic), as well as directing The Terminator, Aliens, and others.

This one was a little more difficult. Why do I like the self-proclaimed "king of the world?" He doesn't have distinct visual style like Michael Bay or John Woo, but I rarely miss a Cameron film and often end up buying them. His action pieces are awesome, but what elevates him above the likes of Len Wiseman and others. I had to think about it. For one, he is consistent. Almost every film is a hit and very few are duds.

It finally hit me that his films are balanced. Possibly more than any other action director, or at least more consistently than any other action director, Cameron can balance action with human drama and characterization. This is extremely difficult to do. By their very nature, action films are action oriented. If you focus too much on that, critics and moviegoers say your films are shallow and popcorn fluff. If you focus too much on drama, the film is boring, trying too hard, and so on.

Cameron has managed to find a balance between characterization and action in almost every movie he has done. In Aliens, every character was unique and you knew what each one was like before they met their demise. You got the sense of the family dynamic between Sarah Connor and her son in Terminator 2: Judgement Day amid the explosions and chases. You saw Sully's struggle to follow orders and at the same time come to appreciate the Nav'i in Avatar.

While he brings the drama, he also tries to push the envelope in filmmaking and present something new. It was a brilliant decision by him to go in a completely opposite direction for the sequel to Alien. In the hands of a lesser filmmaker, it may have failed terribly. That is another good trait of his, the arrogance to believe that what he is doing is right. Titanic? Everyone knows the ending: ship sinks. But he believed the story he had would work. You have to be a bit arrogant and self-confident to be a director (or an artist of any kind). You have to believe in your work.

What're your favorite Cameron films? Comment below and as always, thanks for reading.

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