James Cameron

Culture Warrior

For filmgoers frustrated with a visionary filmmaker whose films’ quality provided diminishing returns as he became ever more prolific, Prometheus was anticipated as a welcome return to form. For those hungry for R-rated, thinking person’s science fiction, Prometheus provided a welcome respite from a summer promising mostly routine franchise continuations. For those who see the 1970s and 1980s as the height of modern Hollywood filmmaking, Prometheus promised a homecoming for a type of blockbuster that was long thought to be dead. Prometheus even beat out The Dark Knight Rises as the most anticipated summer film of 2012 on this very site. But then the reviews came in. And thus began the qualifying, criticizing, parsing out, hyperbolizing, dissecting, backlashing, and disappointed exhaling. There were many responses to Prometheus, but very few of them were the songs of praise that a film this hotly anticipated – and highly desired – by all means should have satisfyingly warranted.

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Science fiction has long been considered by some experts to be a lesser genre than traditional dramas and character studies. Because it lends itself so easily to exploitation, science fiction isn’t always given the respect it deserves. Sure, it tends to be a box office winner, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of the all-time domestic grossing films fit easily in that genre (with at least two more – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Shrek 2 – marginally related as genre films). Still, some still consider science fiction something not to be taken seriously. It is for this reason that “legitimate” film directors might shy away from science fiction in lieu of more important or significant projects. However, many directors got their start or their earliest fame from working in science fiction and other allegedly exploitative and pulp genres. This week’s release of Prometheus reminds us that even though Ridley Scott has directed historical epics (Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven), military action films (Black Hawk Down), crime thrillers (American Gangster) and straight dramas (Thelma & Louise), he got his start in science fiction with Alien and Blade Runner. Scott isn’t the only director to begin a successful career in science fiction. Here are seven other directors who started out or received some of their earliest success in this genre.

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What is Movie News After Dark? Tonight it’s all about learning. We’ll show you the world, pretty babes. Things like destination posters for the whole of Westeros, what can be learned from Batman, Veronica Mars, Morgan Spurlock’s mustache, The Hunger Games, the Marvel Cinematic Timeline, Felicia Day dancing in an elevator, Damon Lindelof, Kickstarter, James Cameron’s obsession with blue people and of course, the world of men’s grooming. It’s going to be a wet and wild ride for a Monday, friends. We begin this evening with something Game of Thrones related. Because Game of Thrones – be it books or show — is slowly taking over the life of yours truly. And that’s just fine with me. Artist Nicholas Hyde has begun selling very cool Game of Thrones destination posters, found via The Mary Sue. At one time there was one for The Wall, Winterfell and King’s Landing alongside the currently listed posters for The Eyrie and Pyke. It’s hard to say whether or not the others have sold out (and even harder to say whether or not I had anything to do with that. Above, you will see Winterfell. Below the jump, I’ve got The Wall and King’s Landing rounded up. Hopefully Mr. Hyde will print more soon.

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With a dormant development arm, James Cameron has fully committed himself to holding his breath underwater and exploring the depths of narrative that he can mine from Pandora and the world of Avatar. A sequal and a threequel were already in the mix, but The Playlist is noting that Cameron seems more than open about an Avatar 4. It was 14 years from first draft to finished film, and its been almost 3 years since that sci-fi epic was released, so if the prospect of 3 more seems like it would take up the rest of Cameron’s sane days, it’s because they just might. The director looks to be quitting the original story game. “I’ve divided my time over the last 16 years over deep ocean exploration and filmmaking. I’ve made two movies in 16 years, and I’ve done eight expeditions. Last year I basically completely disbanded my production company’s development arm. So I’m not interested in developing anything. I’m in the Avatar business. Period. That’s it. I’m making Avatar 2, Avatar 3, maybe Avatar 4, and I’m not going to produce other people’s movies for them. I’m not interested in taking scripts,” said Cameron.

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Recently, Flavorwire got a kick out of a post from Slacktory where they used that ever-present man behind the curtain called Google to see what our internet age connects with celebrities. Then, we got a kick out of Flavorwire’s answer which involved 25 famous authors and what the search engine had to say. The experiment is simple. Type a name into Google Image Search, and the program automagically suggests more words to narrow down your search. Judging from entries like “white people problems” for J.D. Salinger and “death, oven, daddy” for Sylvia Plath, it seems like Google might be kinder to famous movie directors. Some of the responses fully encapsulate the person’s artistic output while others push toward the fringe, but all are shaped by what we’re searching for. Here’s a few things Google thinks you should add to the names of some of your favorite filmmakers.

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Culture Warrior

Way back in the summer of 2004, on the heels of the great success of I Love the 80s and (later) I Love the 70s, VH1 tested the bounds and justifications of the nostalgia market by releasing the initial ten-part I Love the 90s. Instead of simply reflecting upon the most memorable and oft-canonized popular culture products and national news events of the 1970s and 1980s (two decades whose iconography had become ever more apparent, stylized, and parodied during its reappropriation in late 90s/early 00s pop culture), VH1 instead attempted (perhaps unsuccessfully) to create a trend rather than merely follow the typical, perhaps “natural” cycle of nostalgia. Because I Love the 90s aired only a few years after the actual 90s ended, VH1 situated the early 21st century – a time that ostensibly marked a major temporal shift but (save for 9/11) had yet to be self-defined – as a time that uniquely necessitated an immediate reflection on how to understand the 20th century, even the years of that century that were not so long ago. The experiment was both engaging and bizarre. By 2004, the early 90s had come into stark, VH1-friendly self-definition. Yes, we could all collectively make fun of Joey Lawrence, Pogs, oversize flannel, and Kevin Costner’s accent in Robin Hood, and share in the memories and irony-light criticisms therein with Michael Ian Black and Wendy the Snapple Lady. However, by the time the show reached 1997-99, I Love the 90s seemed less like a program banking […]

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To spend so many years of your life not knowing about the Titanic until the director of True Lies tells you about it is almost as tragic as the event itself. But there’s no one that doesn’t know about the sinking of the Titanic, right? Right? In usual Internet and Twitter fashion, the impossible has been proven not-at-all-impossible. Kids and teens across the nation, a.k.a. these 12 concerned Twitterers, are currently in a state of shock and terror because 100-year-old news doesn’t travel fast enough. Not only are these fine citizens worried if people actually died, but more importantly if dear Jack made it or if Billy Zane got his comeuppance. Nikki Finke’s insiders estimate it’ll take ten years for them to figure out both Jack and Billy Zane weren’t even real people. Expect more #mindblown tweets that day. Check this out for yourself:

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The Reject Report - Large

The 1990s are so 13 years ago. At least, that was the attitude this weekend when two films with roots in the last decade of the 20th Century came, saw, and had their proverbial butts kicked by something that is very much 2010 and beyond. The Hunger Games made this third weekend in release its bitch, pulling out another $33.1m and breaking past the coveted $300m mark, tying with Revenge of the Sith as the sixth fastest film to do so. The Lionsgate film was also able in its third week of release to surpass every film in the Twilight franchise, but comparisons between the two were dead, buried, resurrected, and staked in the heart about two-and-a-half weeks ago. With an additional $157.1m in foreign markets – Australia and the UK rank highest with $16.7m and $15.7m, respectively – The Hunger Games if officially a worldwide, cinematic phenom, nearing the half billion mark. The “is he or isn’t he” game Gary Ross and Lionsgate seem to be playing for the sequel, Catching Fire, isn’t stopping audiences from packing theaters, and why should it. Uwe Boll could helm the follow-up, and it’d still bring in record-breaking coin. That’s getting way ahead of ourselves, though, so let’s back-track to the film that’s currently killing everything else in release. Literally killing them. Okay, not literally.

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In 1989, James Cameron explored the fictional deep in The Abyss, and when he dove nearly 7 miles into the Mariana Trench, he unfortunately didn’t meet any gooey alien-like beings, but he did beat a solo dive record and figuratively witnessed a different world inside our own. But hasn’t that always been the job of a good storyteller? To witness and share other worlds within our own? Cameron is a visionary storyteller, and we have a lot to learn from him even as we enjoy his movies. Here is his TED Talk from 2010 where he discusses his unreal worlds and his limitless curiosity – something that seems incredibly relevant right now.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of movie news and links that is quickly finding out that even though SXSW isn’t over, there is such a thing as an early SXSW hangover. A pre-hangover hangover, perhaps? We begin this evening with the coolest image of the day. Easily the coolest image of the day, from The Happytime Murders, a noir murder mystery set in a world where puppets are second class citizens. Henson Studios is putting the thing together, and there’s no end to my own personal excitement.

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Boiling Point

I’ve got a bit of an obsessive compulsive issue when it comes to DVDs and Blu-rays. I’m one of those suckers who will get caught every so often in a double-dip if I’m not paying attention. If I am being observant, I’m the guy who waits four extra months to get a disc with some special features attached. I really dug Transformers 3 and wanted to watch it again, but I’ll be damned if I was going to buy a disc with no extras on it! The issue that has my panties all aflame this week is all about special features and the lack thereof. Oh, most discs today come with some special features on them, but the “featurette” has become the bane of my existence. It used to just be what they called small extras on the disc, but now they’ve really emphasized the -ette, meaning mini, small, or useless.

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Culture Warrior

As much as I admire the incomparable films made during the era, New Hollywood (the term referring to innovative, risk-taking films made funded by studios from the mid-60s to the mid-70s) is a title that I find a bit problematic. The words “New Hollywood” better characterize the era that came after what the moniker traditionally refers to. Think about it: if “Old” or “Classical” Hollywood refers to the time period that stretches roughly from 1930 to 1960 when the studios as an industry maintained such an organized and regimented domination over and erasure of any other potential conception over what a film playing in any normal movie theater could be, then if we refer to the time period from roughly 1977 to now “New Hollywood,” the term then appropriately signifies a new manifestation of the old: regimentation, predictability, and limitation of expression. Where Old Hollywood studios would produce dozens of films of the same genre, New Hollywood (as I’m appropriating the term) could acutely describe the studios’ comparably stratified output of sequels, remakes, etc. What we traditionally understand to be New Hollywood was not so much its own monolithic era in Hollywood’s legacy, but a brief, strange, and wonderful lapse between two modes of Hollywood filmmaking that have dominated the industry’s history.

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Snarky title aside, I am actually greatly anticipating the 3D re-release of James Cameron’s Titanic, if only because I cannot wait to see a film that made me sob for four hours straight on the big screen again. I don’t quite know how said sobbing will work out with the 3D glasses, but I’m willing to test it out regardless (for science). In anticipation of that re-release (which will also be available in IMAX and 2D, all with a fully digitally re-mastered 4K print), Paramount has released a new trailer for the film, one that will make you remember why you saw the film sixteen times in theaters to begin with (or was that just um, not me, but someone else I know, yeah, that’s it – someone else). Complete with a new introduction from Cameron himself, the trailer hits all the high notes from the film, including a magical cue-up of “My Heart Will Go On,” rushing water, running, and the “draw me like one of your French girls” scene. And isn’t that just Titanic in a nutshell? Become king of the world all over again, and check out the re-release trailer after the break.

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The film world has recently experienced a bit of a backlash against 3D movies. Not only have film writers of all sorts repeatedly harped on what a needless gimmick adding a third dimension to an already perfectly fine two-dimensional image is, but regular moviegoers have been using their dollars to vote against the format as well, with more and more 3D pictures seeing less income coming from their 3D screenings and more from their standard two-dimensional screenings. Whether that means audiences are tired of the 3D gimmick itself, or if they’re just tired of paying the premium to see a movie in 3D over 2D is up for debate, but the end result is the same: it looks like the latest 3D fad is on its way out. There are a couple of very vocal and very influential supporters of 3D technology in the movie world, however, and they’re not going to go down without a fight. Perhaps most famously, Avatar director James Cameron is a huge proponent of filming things in 3D, so much so that he’s developed a lot of the technology that makes new techniques possible. He’s even gone so far as to predict that everything we watch in the future will be filmed in 3D, all the time, and that any needed 2D versions will just be extracted from the original 3D copy. That’s a pretty bold stance, but he’s not alone. Director of the upcoming 3D family film Hugo, and Hollywood legend, Martin Scorsese, has […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the roughest, toughest, meanest movie news column around. It also owns one of those silly shirts and smokes cigars. Of that, you can be sure. We begin our newsy journey tonight with a photo of three f*ckin’ guys you might have heard of on the set of The Expendables 2, proving once and for all that witty banter, big scarfs and an awful flowered shirt will be part of the highly anticipated testostisequel. All I can think is… someone needs to get to dat choppa!

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s not messing about. Just doin’ the news. We begin tonight with one of many new images from The Adventures of Tintin. For one of those motion capture, lost in the shadow of the uncanny valley movies, this looks pretty slick. Finally we get to see Andy Serkis act in a movie. Or not.

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There are events that define one’s existence that go beyond being learning or growing experiences. They become scars. Battle scars. They may fade in time, but they don’t go away. They persist. The memories of the events may become blurry, but every now and then, you run your fingertips along the raised, healed wound and remember. It all comes back like a punch in the nose. I had been on movie sets before and believed that I had been trained. The snarky ADs , the disinterested teamsters, the hustling, the waiting, they were all nearly second-nature to me, especially with the close of my on-set involvement with Monster Squad. However, nothing could prepare me for what I was going to face. My first location experience. My first time out of the country. My first time working set on a big budget film. My first time supervising a team. Predator would be all of those things and it would change my life forever.

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Culture Warrior

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Source Code…and, for that matter, Avatar. Recently in Hollywood, the physiological capabilities of our heroic protagonists have owed a great deal to modern medicine and technology, specifically from the military. Whether it be the unique opportunity provided for the paraplegic Jake Sully in Avatar, the incredible and unwanted responsibility of the nearly-dead Colter Stevens in Source Code, or the intravenous hyper-bulking of Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger, Hollywood has given us a spate of unlikely protagonists connected specifically by the fact that their initial disabilities provide for them a unique opportunity to become exceptionally enabled.

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Look, Shawn Levy directed Night at the Museum. He’s a busy guy and he doesn’t have time to be jerked around. That’s why two movie news stories that have come out recently have it looking like he could be done with the long gestating but still not accomplished Fantastic Voyage remake that James Cameron’s company is producing along with Fox. THR recently reported that there is a sticking point between Levy and the producers, where he believes that the film needs an A-list actor to star and he doesn’t want to go forward without getting one signed. For their part, the producers seem less concerned and just want to make the material. Apparently Levy has had recent meetings with Will Smith and if Smith bites the hook and agrees to make the movie it could still be on, but if not, Levy is likely to leave for other projects. Enter a report from Deadline Andermatt that Fox also has a Frankenstein project brewing, with a script written by John Landis’s son Max, that they want to rush into production. Why do they want to rush it into production? Because pretty much everybody has a project in the works about Frankenstein coming to life and beating people to death with his big cold meat paws, so they want to be at the front of the pack when they start hitting theaters. Apparently they want Levy to helm the thing, so if Cameron and crew don’t want to lose him to a […]

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Doug Beswick’s career, like many creature makers, began with a love and practice of Stop Motion Animation. My understanding is that he met Rick Baker when they both worked at Cascade Studios (most famous for doing the claymation for the series Gumby & Pokey) and later had joined Rick’s crew as a mechanical, animatronics designer. I don’t know the details of how and why Doug decided to open his own shop, but his facility was in a small, industrial park, north east of the San Fernando Valley in Sunland. Prior to my arrival, Doug had gained some notoriety with a couple of projects. The first was Terminator in which, Beswick had built and animated the endoskeleton miniature for the few full body shots of the robot walking. The second was a Disney live action film entitled My Science Project. For that film, Rick and Doug had teamed up to build an impressive, miniature, mechanical Tyrannosaurus Rex puppet. It is interesting to see how logical progressions occur (albeit rarely) in Hollywood. Doug had built a sophisticated, miniature, mechanical puppet that looked phenomenal on film, AND he had prior experience working for James Cameron. The result: Doug was hired to build the miniature mechanical puppets for Aliens. See how that worked?

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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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