Tag: james cameron

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A stylized shot of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the T800 in James Cameron's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day".

Father & Son: On James Cameron’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991)

I recently reviewed Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy, wherein I noted the hardening of Celine’s character. We see her in the first film, where she goes from a Romantic idealist, to the third film, where she expresses both disillusionment and anger within her marriage. While Celine’s evolution is not as extreme as Sarah Connor’s (Linda Hamilton) in James Cameron’s Terminator series, over time we witness both women engendering a toughness to their respective characters.

The first Terminator film is well-crafted, excellent sci-fi. While it lacks the emotional and intellectual depth of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, craft is still omnipresent. My reasons for wanting to review The Terminator films alongside Bergman, Bresson, and Tarkovsky is not to make claim that they rank among those other auteurs, per se, but rather to debunk the notion that 1) Hollywood commercial films can’t be great; and 2) if something is an action film, then it must immediately lack depth. While I do think that most sci-fi genre is trite and doesn’t qualify for the greatness canon, with well-sketched characters, transcending the genre is most possible. Also, the other problem I have is sci-fi lovers who rank ‘plot-driven’ narratives above everything else. (Were that true, there would be no reason to ever rewatch anything.) […]

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A shot of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) watching TV in James Cameron's "The Terminator" (1984)

Great Action is Great Storytelling: James Cameron’s “The Terminator” (1984)

I have a long history with the first two Terminator films. James Cameron’s The Terminator (1984) I watched on VHS, following a visit to a video rental store. I was nine and the film came recommended. Those who were never kids in the ‘80s will never know what it was like to ‘rent a movie,’ where it wasn’t uncommon to spend upward of an hour poring over empty cassette cases, carefully deciding on which one. This required commitment, in contrast to today where one can begin streaming and stop if the film is boring.

So, what I am getting at is that these first two films carry personal significance. Not that I was ever excessively into sci-fi, but I must have known quality writing, even then. Now, years later, I have watched this film numerous times and so I am able to view it from a distance. The Terminator isn’t a poetic film per se, but rather, it is well-written, ‘prose-driven’ cinema. Its success is proof that a film can be commercial and of quality, but more on that later. […]