Anyone that’s a fan of The Abyss has GOT to see those. No way you couldn’t like them! 🙂
I think his Terminator movies are his strongest work. T2 even now, nearly a quarter century after it was first released, still looks amazing. The effects were built specifically to enhance the story and are integrated seamlessly into it. But the story, the human interactions and the characters are of primary import which isn’t always the case in effects laden blockbusters today.
Cameron is a master story teller and can find intimate, beautiful personal details in movies, regardless of whether the movie is set in a post apocalyptic future, like The Terminator, or in a disastrous past, like Titanic.
For me, his best work will always be The Terminator and T2; the first movie ushered in 80’s filmmaking and made a monumental star of Schwarzenegger, while the second ushered in the primacy of special effects tent pole movies and day and date releases on a global scale.
The word genius is bandied about a little too liberally these days but I honestly feel it aptly describes Cameron. There is no future except that which we make and Cameron has played his part in making ours.
What a respectable dood in how he handled goin with Henson studios instead of consulting with Giger. In no way did he hope to recapture the lightning in a bottle of the first movie (which, though apples to oranges I feel is the best of the franchise) but instead stamped every inch of the predetermined concept with his own creative vision. As for strictly his body of work I think Aliens and Abyss are two sides of the same coin, both completely amazing in their own right, from Coffee as a tragic villain to Bishop as a tragic hero. Two of the most iconic characters to date.
It’s a matter of story architecture. Deus ex machina + asspull is generally frowned upon.
That is, a well-structured story ties in these capabilities, even “magical”, with some degree of consistency and hopefully logic. They could affect water in strange ways and a lot of strange stuff. But decompressing a body would be all sorts of complex, the established story was that the sea-aliens didn’t really understand humans down there- including our biology- and they didn’t have any scene where, say, alien-manipulated water surrounded them and sucked the nitrogen saturation out of them. What’s more, arguably the instant-surfacing doesn’t really seem to be a necessary, meaningful part of the climax. There would be many other ways to resolve the characters’ storylines without instant-resurfacing.
Thus the common complaint- the story kinda fell flat on the ending. Movie’s great if you just ignore the ending.
I sure didn’t like the ending of Avatar either. The whole story was based on this thing where he wasn’t actually a blue alien, just remotely controlling it, yet still empathizing with them. There was no long-term resolution for that. Then at the last minute we’re told that consciousness could be transferred permanently, even though there was no precedent in the plot of “soul transfer” of any sort. All effected by a hippie drum circle.
Even so, it needs to have been established as an issue that needs to be resolved. Furthermore, it’s got to be a metaphor for a relatable problem for the audience to take personally.
Decompression wasn’t established with a meaningful metaphor for anything else- what’s more, the story was really reaching to try to say that sudden ascent was even something the characters needed. It was rather arbitrary.
Cameron’s original ending was the sea-aliens watched our TV and deemed us a violent, dangerous species, and menaced the world’s coastlines everywhere with an immense static tidal wave hundreds of feet high that it held and dropped back.
The sea-aliens revealing themselves to the world by ascending was the primary plot point. Returning the crew with them was only a detail.
I have loved this movie since I was a kid. Really moving film. My favourite scene is when Ed Harris refuses to give up on reviving Mary Mastrantonio and screams, (paraphrasing) “Live!! LIVE! You’ve never given up on anything in your life! Live you bitch!” and slaps her in a desperate attempt to bring her back. It kills me every time. The scene feels so real.