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Is James Cameron the Right Person to Criticize “Battleship”?

Is James Cameron the Right Person to Criticize "Battleship"?

Bloggers love to call out Hollywood hypocrisy, especially if it involves someone as egocentric as James Cameron and can be used as another excuse to slam the unoriginality of “Avatar.” Even if I was one of the people to jump on that film early on, I think people give it too little credit, especially since its borrowing from other works is not that worse than the majority of movies being made today. Including the critic and fanboy darlings “Black Swan” and “Inception.”

But I still agree Cameron is the wrong person to be criticizing a project like “Battleship” and the decision to halve adaptations like “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” to German magazine Spiegel (via Worst Previews). Regarding the board game adaptation, which he cites as a degradation of cinema and part of the modern “story crisis” in Hollywood, it actually sounds like a movie Cameron would make himself under a less-whorish title. It’s about aliens and a large oceanic vessel. That’s like a Cameron mash-up. Maybe Arnold Schwarznegger can make a cameo?

Today at the Film Blog Water Cooler writers blast Cameron and defend “Battleship.” Read a few arguments after the jump.

David Ehrlich at Cinematical:

the man has earned the right to speak his mind. His films might be waylaid by rather facile plots, but the effort and passion with which he devotes himself to his craft is beyond reproach. That someone of his esteem is refusing to be complacent is admirable, and it’s a breath of fresh air for such an icon to be so unabashedly candid. Of course, at the end of the day it’s we as the audience who are collectively endowed with the most powerful voice of all: our wallets. If you don’t want a ‘Battleship 2: The Quickening,’ don’t see ‘Battleship.’

Christopher Rosen at Movieline:

Note to Universal: When the guy that made a movie about 9 foot tall aliens who use their tentacles to have sex with nature calls your movie ridiculous, you might have a problem.

Sean Dwyer at Film Junk:

It’s difficult to see Cameron as a shining beacon of originality when Avatar has been accused of regurgitating classic story elements from movies like Pocahontas and Dances with Wolves. On the other hand, at least he was able to pull a new franchise from thin air, which is not something many directors have the freedom or ability to do nowadays.

Ben Moore at Screen Rant:

First of all, as I said before, I totally agree with Cameron that Hollywood has a story crisis on their hands. The past year, while peppered with gems, was pretty rough for the American cinema. That said, while Avatar made approximately a googol dollars at the box office – and was mighty fine entertainment to boot – it wasn’t exactly an original tale. Mix one part Pocahontas, one part Dances with Wolves, one part Aliens, twenty parts Fern Gully, twenty-eight parts Call Me Joe, and one part The Blue Man Group, and you’ve essentially got Avatar’s story.

Paul Tassi at JoBlo.com:

Say he’s a hypocrite all you want for taking nearly all of AVATAR’s major plot points from POCAHONTAS, DANCES WITH WOLVES and FERNGULLY, but the man does know how to create an original universe, and more often than not, an original story, and I completely agree with his sentiments about BATTLESHIP here. It IS a disgrace, and for the life of me, I don’t understand why the Battleship name even had to be brought up. You want to make a movie where naval warships captained by Rihanna fight aliens? Great. But why bring the toy into it?

Brendan Bettinger at Collider:

I can see where Cameron’s coming from. Battleship is indeed a brand, and not a story waiting to be told.

But in a way, that vapid quality is exciting. As long as Universal can stick the name Battleship on the poster, Jon and Erich Hoeber (Red) are permitted to write what is effectively an original screenplay about a naval battle… with aliens. Maybe I’m naive, but I’m not ready to write Battleship off so quickly

Kevin Coll at Fused Film:

I can’t believe how hypocritical this guy is. I mean not only was one of his first commercial successes as a director was from a brand (existing franchise) before he got it, ala Aliens, but another successful sequel he directed was a brand, Terminator 2: Judgement Day. It amazes me how so anti-capitalistic this guy is when his fame and fortune has been made on the very “marketing” and “branding” elements he is criticizing about Battleship. Is the idea behind making a Battleship clear and obvious, sure, but at least they are acknowledging it upfront and not trying to hide it unlike all your crap.

Kevin Jagernauth at The Playlist:

We find absolutely hilarious that James Cameron is willingly oblivious to the fact that his own “Avatar” is a big branding and merchandising machine itself, not to mention that two more sequels are on the way. But hey, we guess when you make one of the biggest blockbusters of all time, you can say whatever the fuck you want.

Devin Faraci at Badass Digest:

Now the storytelling crisis in Hollywood is so huge that it is apparent to the man who propelled a movie filled only with cliches and archetypes to the top spot in history. And it doesn’t seem to be letting up. I wonder what’s going to happen in ten years – will people who complain about the threadbare plots and non-existent characters in blockbusters be told ‘What did you expect, a Stephen King story?’ or ‘You knew it wasn’t going to be Twilight.’?

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