James Cameron disses JJ Abrams for taking ‘baby steps’ with ‘The Force Awakens’

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James Cameron is a brilliant technical director, but he doesn’t have the best reputation for being a nice person, or the best collaborator, or anything other than an egotistical monster. While I know that The Hurt Locker wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I loved that Kathryn Bigelow won Best Director for THL that year, mostly because it meant she got to stick it to Cameron, her ex-husband, who was nominated in the same category that year for Avatar. While I think Hollywood respects Cameron’s achievements, I don’t think he’s very popular amongst his peers. So that adds an extra layer of delicious bitterness to the following exchange. Cameron was being interviewed on YouTube and he was asked about George Lucas and the latest Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. Cameron couldn’t help but unleash his bitch.

James Cameron has dissed fellow director J.J. Abrams. Cameron was asked about Star Wars: The Force Awakens during an interview with YouTuber Keely Stinner. As it turned out, he had recently discussed the latest installment with the series’ original director, George Lucas.

“I have to say that I felt that George’s group of six films had more innovative visual imagination, and this film was more a retrenchment to things you had seen before and characters you had seen before,” he said of J.J. Abrams’ blockbuster, which is the third highest-grossing film ever behind his own Avatar and Titanic. “It took a few baby steps forward with new characters. So, for me, the jury is out. I want to see where they go with it.”

Earlier in the interview, however, Cameron admitted that he has “a lot of respect” for Abrams. Abrams has not publicly addressed Cameron’s comments.

Though Star Wars: The Force Awakens didn’t wow Cameron, he knows it’s a force to be reckoned with at the box office. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why he delayed the release of his four Avatar sequels, which will hit theaters in 2018, 2020, 2022 and 2023. “My original plan was to release them a year apart, but we’re opening that up. If for no other reason than that I don’t want to land on the same date as one of the Star Wars sequels,” he said in April. “That wouldn’t be fair to them. No, that’s just good business. I don’t want to go head-to-head with Star Wars. That would be stupid. And hopefully they won’t want to go head-to-head with us.”

Cameron’s candor came as a bit of a surprise, given that in January, Avatar 2′s theatrical release date was bumped from December 2017 to December 2018. At the time, 20th Century Fox declined to comment on speculation that the move was related to Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm deciding to shift Star Wars: Episode VIII’s release from May 2017 to December 2017.

[From E! News]

Maybe I run in elite circles, but were people really clamoring for FOUR Avatar sequels? I understand the first film made a crazy amount of money, but FOUR sequels? Do people care that much? As for what he says about The Force Awakens and JJ Abrams vision versus George Lucas’ vision… I think Lucas will always be held up as one of the biggest game-changers/geniuses in Hollywood for Episodes IV-VI. But after Episodes I-III, Lucas deserved to have his franchise taken away from him. I know that sounds harsh, but whatever. I think Abrams was trying to honor the original three films with The Force Awakens and I personally think Abrams did a great job, if only because he expanded the universe in exciting ways with Finn, Poe and Rey.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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57 Responses to “James Cameron disses JJ Abrams for taking ‘baby steps’ with ‘The Force Awakens’”

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  1. Lucy says:

    Does anyone even remember the characters’s names from Avatar? Team Resistance here!!

  2. MissMerry says:

    He gave the nerds what they wanted, which was just another Star Wars. It was good, but I see the similarities. It wasn’t a remake, so nobody can say that about it, but it also had such a similar recipe I can see why somebody would see it as a ‘safe’ story or ‘baby steps’

    also, I care so little for these old, petty white men arguing over their own talents…

    also, nobody cares about Avatar more than Cameron, but I don’t think he’ll ever accept that because I’m sure the people he surrounds himself with make him feel like it’s the most important thing in the world.

  3. MrsBPitt says:

    I really, really, did not like Avatar….and will not see the sequels…As far as, Cameron goes, everyone knows he is a dick!!!

  4. Justine says:

    The Force Awakens was basically a remake of Star Wars. Cameron isn’t the first to say it and won’t be the last.

    • Emma - The JP Lover says:

      @Justine, who wrote: “The Force Awakens was basically a remake of Star Wars. Cameron isn’t the first to say it and won’t be the last.”

      It was a horribly miscast (with one exception being Daisy Ridley), over-hyped mess with a terrible script, and two or three extremely weak actors. It could have been SO much better. And you’re right about it being a blatant remake of “Star Wars” 1977. And regardless of Cameron’s ‘D$ck’ status, he’s a gifted film maker … the real deal. He’s earned the right to say “The Force Awakens” was crap. And yes, he’s not the only gifted film maker to say so.

      I grew up on “Star Trek” but, being a science fiction and fantasy geek, I fully embraced “Star Wars” in 1977 and the two sequels. I ‘wanted’ to be engaged by “The Force Awakens,” but I spent the entire film thinking “Seriously? Are you kidding me??”

      • oliphant says:

        agree on a lot of your points- was so gutted when i saw the new star wars, I love JJ so was expecting to love it but thought the script was awful, the acting was so bad- kylo ren being a tantrum throwing teenager, daisy was awful and i was so looking forward to a great character and performance there! it did have a few great points- BB8, poe, and i did love the very end :)

        as for Cameron…he gave the world ‘Aliens’ so i’ll always love him for that :) RIPLEY!!!!…….plus i always think who better than to review and criticise a film than another director?

      • Sam says:

        I’m not sure how Cameron genuinely qualifies as a gifted filmmaker. He’s a gifted visual artist, certainly – but as director? Terminator was an interesting idea, I do give him credit for that one. But after? True Lies was a great film, but it was your standard, formulaic action film – great film, but not breaking any new ground. The Abyss was a mess of editing and storytelling (could have been outstanding, but wasn’t). Titanic was just….no. Avatar was a big-budget Ferngully.

        I think Cameron is gifted in terms of visual production and creating interesting looking things, but as an all around director, not so much.

      • Twinky says:

        @Sam: Agreed 100%!! I think he’s good with technical elements and visual detail. That’s it. His storylines are always so cliched!

      • Greyson says:

        Thank you!! I thought “The Force Awakens” was an inferior re-hash of the original sequels. JJ did a TERRIBLE job on world building and expanding the Star Wars universe.

        Say what you will about the prequels, Lucas’s expanding the scope of the Star Wars universe with every film he put out.

        As for Cameron, I don’t care if he’s a dick — dude has done classic films and blockbusters that hold up MUCH BETTER than ANY of JJ’s films. Hello – TERMINATOR 2!! ALIENS (hell yes, part II was better than the original)!!! The ABYSS!! TITANIC!!!

        Cameron has earned his legendary status. JJ Abrams, not so much. JJ reboot the Star Trek films by turning it into Star Wars-lite.. He’s unoriginal.

      • Ally8 says:

        I highly recommend watching the Honest Trailer for Abrams’ first Star Trek movie (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTfBH-XFdSc). They make a great point about it being his demo reel for the Star Wars directing job and point out all the lifts of iconic imagery even in that movie.

        I think Abrams himself has said that it was deliberate choice to make The Force Awakens stick closer to the 70s movies’ style, storytelling and characters. It’s fan service but it sets up a good foundation to do something new in the next two. That said, anything entirely new will be upsetting because people are invested in their Star Wars canon. Abrams is a brilliant at delivering crowd-pleasing, eye-popping fare, but it’s true he has yet to prove that he can deliver completely original storytelling onscreen. Compare and contrast with the empty novelty of Lucas’s second set of Star Wars movies, though: a lot of sturm and drang (and sitting and talking in a 10 ft by 10 ft area) signifying nothing.

        So I don’t think Cameron is saying anything too new or controversial. He has certainly been much more of a visuals pioneer than Abrams, but substantially, he veers towards cornball in his storytelling (not to mention the disturbing white savior trope in Avatar), so nobody’s perfect.

  5. Sara says:

    I agree with him terrible movie

  6. KHLBHL says:

    Cameron’s right, to some extent. But I still enjoyed the heck out of FA and conveniently chose to forget about the prequels. Cameron’s generally wrong about those. They were terrible. But I think I get what Lucas was trying to do, story-wise. He was trying to create political intrigue and drama and world-build and do something different from ‘standard’ sci-fi fare.

    Now Abrams has turned it into a retread about ONE family in the galaxy when it’s a whole freaking galaxy with such a wealth of characters and possibilities. The meaty potential of exploring the political and deeper psychological aspects of the SW universe, including the rise and fall of despots and evil with allegories to our world and history, is totally gone. Now it’s just explosions and lasers and daddy issues and the stupid kind of characterization of evil (where everything is black and white and you’re either evil and power-hungry or you’re not), when it could have been so much more. But like Cameron said, the jury’s out. It’s why I’m excited for Rogue One, reshoots or no. It looks grittier and darker and develops characters that are not named Skywalker or Solo.

    I’m not saying SW has to be dark. There are some aspects of ridiculousness to SW. I’m just saying that this new trilogy had the potential to continue to be revolutionary in terms of the science fiction genre, the potential to continue to be the standard to which all other sci-fi films are held to, and it kinda missed the mark. Now it’s starting to look generic, starting to look like all the other Hollywood blockbusters out there.

  7. Sam says:

    Says the guy who basically remade Ferngully on a far larger budget.

    • Cdoggy says:

      Hahahaha!! Thank you. I needed a belly laugh this morning. Fern gully…

    • lucy2 says:

      Thank you!
      As visually and technically great as that movie was, it was boring as hell, a retread of a previous story, and utterly lacking in character depth.

  8. mia girl says:

    When Avatar was the big thing, I felt like I lived on the Island of Misfit toys along with a handful of others who just didn’t like the movie. Everyone was so wowed and I just didn’t get it. Still don’t get it.

  9. NeoCleo says:

    Avatar was a very pretty, VERY vapid movie. I bought a copy because I like looking at it so much. But it does not engage me the same way the new Star Wars does. Yes, TFA is a retrenching of sorts, but it works beautifully to restart the series and introduce new characters.

  10. Krista says:

    I unapologetically love The Force Awakens. I think JJ respects the hell out of Star Wars and he did a great job taking the torch.
    On the other hand, I couldn’t even finish Avatar. So there’s that…

    • Greyson says:

      To each their own. I disliked TFA. Thought it was a weak movie all around.

      I own a box set of SW episodes 1-6. And I watched Avatar 3x in the theater, so I’m definitely Team Cameron. I enjoy his work and Lucas’s work more.

  11. Mia4s says:

    Fair criticism to be honest (and I loved the movie). But don’t get me started on the ridiculousness that was Avatar! 😉

    Abrams is not a director of unique vision, but he’s a genius at casting. GENIUS. Take away your feelings about his stories/visuals and just look at the actors he’s discovered/utilized. Absolute perfection. On everything else I’d rate him as “satisfactory”, occasionally reaching great. But his characters? Wow!

    I think a lot of people are waiting to see if Rian Johnson can truly move to something new and unique now that we have characters we love and want to spend time with.

  12. Kate says:

    It was an incredibly safe movie.

    On the other hand Avatar was an insanely expensive Fern Gully remake, so Cameron should just stay quiet in his glass house.

  13. EM says:

    He is a plagiarist. It has been shown in the past by Harlan Ellison. Avatar resembles yet another sci-fi novel he failed to credit.

  14. Megan says:

    It wouldn’t be fair to Star Wars to make it compete with Avatar? Bi$ch, please.

  15. Chaucer says:

    Agree. J.J. could have done something new and big and exciting, but instead we got that horrible, horrible mess. I cannot understand why that movie was so popular. It was absolutely awful.

    Avatar was no gem either. Just Pocahontas with blue people.

  16. Alex says:

    I mean yea TFA was ANH remake but I didn’t mind it because it gets the new story off the ground. People forget that JJ is going to be building and expanding quite a bit. But Lucas is in a league of his own so its not a fair comparison…thought JJ did a great job.
    Now Cameron I don’t know WHO you’re talking to but I don’t know anyone that is looking for 4 sequels let alone one. I didn’t even see the first in the theaters..it was a great movie for sure but not one that needs sequels IMO. Then again JC thinks very very highly of himself

    • Greyson says:

      I think it’s highly problematic to say, well the next movies in the trilogy will make up for what the first one lacks.. A story should be able to stand on it’s own. TFA doesn’t. What did we learn about the New Republic? Who is the New Order and why are they so powerful after Vader killed the Emperor? Why is the resistance so badly funded and lacking much support from the New Republic even though the success of the Rebel Alliance is what paved the way FOR a New Republic??

      I’ve got nothing. Companion novels and shorts shouldn’t have to fill out bad characterization, little exposition, and a muddled plot.

  17. K2 says:

    I hate almost all sequels (the Matrix was ruined by turning a brilliant film into a dire trilogy; the Star Wars prequels were so bad I fell asleep watching the second in the damn cinema; no movie from a TV show I have ever seen has been a good idea… and remakes are no better) but I loved the new Star Wars. Went with the kid, fully expecting to hate it, and was amazed to really enjoy it. Sure, it’s to the formula. 2 of the first 3 were. It had good characters, it was faithful to the canon universe, it allowed the older characters to age with dignity – even the woman! – and did anyone else notice they had women extras running around as fighter pilots and technicians, as an aside? It was great, in my opinion. It wasn’t challenging or ground-breaking, but it was never supposed to be. It was an excellent expansion of a fun canon universe.

    I bloody hate Avatar, though. So those are sequels I really won’t be sampling. And I don’t think the guy responsible for Titanic is strongly placed to argue against enjoyable escapist dreck, either.

  18. QQ says:

    If J. J had been any bolder in script than what he was the eternal titty babies of Online would have never had peace seriously think about how much they complained and actually committed suicide behind John Boyega ffs

  19. Irene says:

    Wow. He really believes he’s some kind of uber-talented theatrical visionary, doesn’t he.

    Newsflash, Cameron. You’re good at special effects. That’s pretty much it. Your characters are bland and generic, your stories are laughable and childish, and NO ONE wants an Avatar sequel.

    Maybe Star Wars didn’t do anything groundbreaking, but I enjoyed the hell out of it, which is more than I can say for anything you’ve ever made (except for Titanic, which came out when I was a teenager and therefore appealed to me on a when-Leonardo-DiCaprio-was-attractive level).

  20. Alex says:

    Uh Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron are still good friends. He’s still very close to Gale Hurd too. Just because people divorce doesn’t mean the ex-wives hate their ex-husbands.

    • Tiffany says:

      Yep. And he was stomping hard for Kathryn for Best Director. When he was being interviewed he always took it back to her. I think they also produced some things post marriage. She is my forever as she directed Point Break and Strange Days.

  21. Emma - The JP Lover says:

    Okay, I have to say this. James Cameron introduced technology in “Avatar” that had never been achieved in film before. Directors flocked to the “Avatar” set to see what Cameron was doing because it was ground breaking. “Avatar” was visually stunning and really ‘moved’ people emotionally. It had a wonderful ‘Man vs Nature’ theme at its core and touched upon fate, faith, and the universal Energy which connects every living thing. Some people didn’t get it, but the film touched millions of people, which is why they saw the film numerous times. The 1977 film “Star Wars” was also about something bigger than us and ‘about’ us at the same time. It also ‘touched’ people, as did the two sequels. “The Force Awakens is ‘not’ in that league.

    You didn’t get “Avatar?” Fine, but that doesn’t make it a crap film … just one that didn’t resonant with you. “The Force Awakens” was nearly frame for frame a remake of the 1977 “Star Wars” film with elements from the sequels. Sh$tting on Cameron won’t change that fact.

    • Flowerchild says:

      As I said below Avatar was Pocahontas with blue people.

    • Greyson says:

      Completely agree. All the Avatar backlash isn’t so different from Titanic backlash. The film does so well and stays in theaters so long some people feel it’s “cool” to bash it.

      TFA was a much weaker film. The story didn’t stand on it’s own at all. No explanation why after their success in Episode VI all of the characters and their children are in the same place they were as rebels barely getting by. It would have been better if they stuck to the Expanded Universe, but in his arrogance to come up with his own “vision” JJ’s script is on par with bad fan fiction.

      Same thing for Star Trek Reboot films. Fan made Star Trek Axanar is far superior (Look up on the Prelude to Axanar on Youtube!).

      • Emma - The JP Lover says:

        @Greyson, who wrote; “It would have been better if they stuck to the Expanded Universe, but in his arrogance to come up with his own “vision” JJ’s script is on par with bad fan fiction.”

        LOL! Well put. I ‘did’ feel like I was stuck reading a piece of bad fan fiction. :)

        And I also agree that Abrams tried to remake the original story in his own image so he could forever after ‘own’ “Star Wars.” He would have been better served to do what James Cameron did with “Aliens.” Cameron didn’t remake Ridley Scott’s film “Alien.” Instead he moved 70 years into the future in the same Universe and made his own story with an original character from Scott’s film. And that’s the right way to do it … leave the other outstanding film alone, just take an element or two from the original film and move the story forward, backward, or even sideways in order to make your ‘own’ outstanding film.

        Aside from the fact that J.J. Abrams has said to anyone who would listen that he wasn’t a “Star Trek” fan–and then went on to make the “Star Trek” reboot into “Star Wars,” oh and turning Spock into a red-blooded, (as opposed to original character green) petty, petulant Vulcan with massive anger issues–I actually like the first new Trek film. His mistake was in remaking the second original “Star Trek” blockbuster film “the Wrath of Khan” instead of going with an original story in the second reboot film after successfully creating a new canvas with the first film.

        Likewise with “The Force Awakens.” As you said, Abrams could have started with a story letting us see why characters, and their families, from the original films are now sort of stuck in the same place we left them in “The Empire Strikes Back.”

        But then, lack of originality seems to be J.J. Abrams’ Achilles Heel. People rave and rave about “Alias” … but it was just a remake of the popular Canadian series “La Femme Nikita” with Peta Wilson. Abrams just put the female protagonist in college.

        http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118379/?ref_=nv_sr_2

    • I Choose Me says:

      It really was a visually stunning film, there’s no taking away from that. The plot however was trite and predicatable. My husband loves that film. I don’t. Different strokes.

      • Emma - The JP Lover says:

        @I Choose Me, who wrote: “My husband loves that film. I don’t. Different strokes.”

        Agreed.
        :)
        :)
        :)

    • Micki says:

      Yes to all your points.
      I went as far as buying both Star Wars and Avatar because I was sure I’ll want to see them many times. The last Star Wars instalment was a rip off so sorry. I don’t think I’ll buy it.

  22. Flowerchild says:

    Cameron needs to get off his soapbox because Avatar is no masterpiece ( although visually pleasing) and as someone said above it was Pocahontas with blue people. I’ll listen to Camerson has to say when he admits to ripping off Pocahontas.

    Dose anyone else think his little rant is more about Camerson being pi$$ed off that Avatar II got bummed to 2018 because of Star Wars: Episode VIII’s.

  23. I Choose Me says:

    “…this film was more a retrenchment to things you had seen before and characters you had seen before”

    Says the guy behind Avatar aka Fern Gully did it better.

  24. M.A.F. says:

    I have yet to see Avatar and I have zero plans to see it. I never bought the stories that people were coming out of the theater crying because of the world he created. The only thing I know he can have props to is pushing motion caption; he built upon what Peter Jackson had done during the LOTR movies.

    Force Awakens is just fine the way it is. I think they had to tell that story in such a way before they can break out and find their own footing.

    • Emma - The JP Lover says:

      @M.A.F., who wrote: “I never bought the stories that people were coming out of the theater crying because of the world he created.”

      And yet, they did. Just because you didn’t ‘see’ them coming out crying doesn’t mean that they didn’t. :)

      • Ican't says:

        The same could be said for you just because people don’t think had a “wonderful ‘Man vs Nature’ theme at its core and touched upon fate, faith, and the universal Energy which connects every living thing” Doesn’t mean that people didn’t get it.

      • Emma - The JP Lover says:

        @Ican’t …

        If I understand correctly what you wrote above, I believe I said “Some people got it, and some people didn’t.” Obviously, the people touting “Avatar” as a vapid story without character development did ‘not’ get it, and that’s fine if they don’t like it, but that still doesn’t mean it is a crap film. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” There is just absolutely nothing there to ‘get.’ The film is seriously lacking on many levels … and that’s just not based upon my opinion.

        Directors who didn’t vote for “Avatar” for the Best Picture Oscar didn’t do so because it was a bad film. Many of them–the ones who voted for “Hurt Locker,” that is–openly admitted to enjoying “Avatar” immensely and having a better time watching it than “Hurt Locker,” they just thought that “Hurt Locker” was the more ‘important’ film … more important, not better (the subtext being that they hate Cameron and wanted to stick it to him).

  25. lucy2 says:

    “this film was more a retrenchment to things you had seen before and characters you had seen before”
    Yes…because it was a sequel? When he does Avatar 2, 3, 4, whatever, is he not going to have some of the previous characters or story lines?

    I really enjoyed TFA – it wasn’t ground breaking, but I think it was an excellent step to jump start the rest of the story and continue it to the next generation, and very entertaining.

  26. Adr1s says:

    I think there was an interview where Cameron basically says that he’s making the other avatar movies out of spite. Like no one wants another movie, so he’s gonna make a lot of movies and prove us wrong

  27. Grant says:

    The prequels were absolutely dreadful and they honestly tarnished the Star Wars franchise… Until the Force Unleashed came out and everything changed. So STFU, James Cameron.

  28. Addison says:

    Well JJ is superior as a director. Most people I know LOVED the new Star Wars and saw it multiple times.

    Most people I know really felt that the story and the whole franchise is back on track. Too bad JJ will not continue as director.

    As far as Cameron he may be a director but he only has two films that are really worth mentioning. Aliens and T2. So to me he sounds like a bitter old man who is jealous of JJ because he is getting the kind of praise he can only dream of. And if he thinks his movies about the blue people (see how unmemorable his movies are, I cannot even remember the name even though people have been saying the name here) are the greatest, he drank his own kool-aid.

    JJ will continue to do great and create great films. Cameron will continue to sulk.

  29. ToxicShockAvenger says:

    Oh, GTF over yourself, James Cameron. Avatar sucked. The only reason it made so much money is that people were curious about all the technical wizardry, but guess what? It doesn’t make up for a weak plot, boring story, and characters you can’t care about. Lucas’ original three movies may have been more visually innovative in their day, but what makes them classics is that people still want to watch them now, when they’re NOT visual/technical gamechangers. Abrams gets that. He told a story. It’s a movie, not a kiosk at the science museum.

    For the record, though, I DO find “Abrams has yet to address his comments” to be a little melodramatic. Why do they need to be addressed? Cameron expressed an opinion, and while it betrays a laughable level of conceit and delusion, it was just his opinion. Do they have to duel at noon?