James Cameron and George Lucas are buddies, which makes sense. Both of them are pioneers in the world of science fiction, and both of them love creating wondrous worlds filled with strange creatures, and then sapping all of the wonder out of them for the sake of sequels and tie-ins. Lucas (and his pal Spielberg) did this with Indiana Jones, and Cameron is in the process of doing this with Avatar, though that original film’s credibility is up for debate. Central to this conversation lately, though, is the Star Wars franchise, which has expanded from an original trilogy, to a second, not-good trilogy, to dozens of Extended Universe books, as well as board and video games, and now, finally, another trilogy, as well as a bunch of spin-offs, as spearheaded by J.J. Abrams and the wonderful folks at Disney. Well, it turns out, as far as Cameron is concerned, the line is drawn at six films and a few dozen books, because he does not think that Abrams’s The Force Awakens lived up to the “visual imagination” of Lucas’s early work.
And this was Cameron pulling punches, apparently, because when asked to elucidate, he said, “I don’t want to say too much about the film cos I also have a lot of respect for J.J. Abrams, and I want to see where they’re taking it next, to see what they’re doing with it,” he said. “I have to say that I felt that George’s group of six films had more innovative visual imagination, and this film was more of a retrenchment to things you had seen before and characters you had seen before, and it took a few baby steps forward with new characters.”
What Cameron seems to be ignoring here is that Abrams’s film was operating within an established aesthetic and world, and that his job was primarily to further that world in a way that would appeal to the millions of fans who wanted to see another Star Wars film, and not necessarily a new Star Wars film. It’s also silly to hear Cameron criticize anyone for a lack of imagination, given the fact that he has four more Avatars slated thru 2023, and that his writing credits currently look like this:
But, anyway, yeah, Abrams’s movie, though, was totally unoriginal. I agree. Because it was furthering a narrative that had already been put into place.