James Cameron is a filmmaker with a great deal of opinions about a great number of things, and he’s usually not very shy about sharing them with whomever will listen. For reasons that aren’t fully clear, though, he’s being uncharacteristically politic with what seems to be his clear distaste for the newest Star Wars film, as /Film points out. In a recent interview with Hannah Litchfield, the writer-director of Avatar and Titanic rather graciously let slip some problems he had with J.J. Abrams’s The Force Awakens. You can watch the full 24-minute interview here, but the clip below is the part that’s germane to the topic:
George Lucas is a friend of mine, and George and I had a good conversation about it. I don’t want to say too much about the film as I have a lot of respect for J.J. Abrams. I want to see where they’re taking it next, see what they’re doing with it. But I gotta say I think that George’s 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. It took a few baby steps forward with new characters. But for me the jury is out, I want to see where they go with it.
That’s a perfectly reasonable opinion delivered with genuinely diplomatic aplomb. Unfortunately, it’s coming from someone who, for his last film, spent years laboring on its “innovative visual imagination” and then knocked out all the characters, motivation and narrative elements (unobtainium, anyone?) in about fifteen minutes. That doesn’t necessarily invalidate the criticism—but it might be more powerful coming from a different source.
It seems we’ve reached the point in the renewed Star Wars zeitgeist when the effusive praise has died down enough for some conscientious objectors to have their voices heard. Earlier this week, Birth. Movies. Death.’s Film Crit Hulk offered an unsurprisingly thoughtful and annoyingly capitalized criticism of not just The Force Awakens but J.J. Abrams’ filmmaking style in general. (If you’re heading over there, you might need this.)