James Cameron: Force Awakens lacked 'imagination' of Star Wars prequels

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Director of Avatar and Titanic supports JJ Abrams but criticises the most recent addition to the Star Wars franchise

James Cameron Force Awakens lacked 'imagination' of Star Wars prequels
Lacked the innovative visuals of the originals, says James Cameron. What do you think? Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Photograph: Film Frame/AP

It has smashed box-office records around the world and been hailed by critics as a franchise-saver, but there’s one high-profile filmgoer who was underwhelmed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

James Cameron has said that JJ Abrams’s reboot lacked the “innovative visual imagination” of the original films. Asked for his opinion, the director, a close friend of Star Wars creator George Lucas, echoed the thoughts of many who felt that Abrams had not added anything new to the franchise.

“I don’t want to say too much about the film cos I also have a lot of respect for JJ 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. So for me the jury’s out, I wanna see where they go with it.”

Abrams, who had previously rebooted the Star Trek franchise, was one of the architects, along with producer Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) of the Star Wars revival, initiated after Disney bought the rights from Lucas for over $4bn. Directing duties on the forthcoming Episode VIII are being handled by Looper’s Rian Johnson, while the first in a planned series of spin-offs, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is being directed by Godzilla’s Gareth Edwards. That project is currently undergoing reshoots to “lighten the film’s mood”, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Global box office takings from The Force Awakens exceeded $2bn in February this year, making it only the third film in history to break that total. The other two films, Titanic and Avatar, were both directed by Cameron.

Last year, Cameron reviewed another high-profile reboot: Terminator Genisys. Inspired by the Terminator films that Cameron co-wrote and directed, Genisys was criticised by many for simply copying the best bits of the original films, before muddying the franchise with unimaginative and confusing plot twists.

“I start to see things I recognise,” said Cameron. “It’s being very respectful of the first two films. Then all of the sudden, it just swerves. And now I’m going on a journey. I feel like the franchise has been reinvigorated, like this is a renaissance.”

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