Here's the thing about James Cameron: he knows what he's doing.
Time and again, audiences - and Hollywood itself! - have understimated Cameron, only to have him pull off one win after another at the box office. It's happened so often that the general consensus has become, "Only a fool would bet against James Cameron." You know this, we know this. We also know that, in the process of scoring all those hits, James Cameron's ego has become its own force to be reckoned with. This leads to situations where James Cameron says things which are probably true, but also dickish. When this occurs, we tend to roll our eyes at James Cameron and give him the business, because that's what we do here.
Today brings us another opportunity to do so. In a new interview with Yahoo! (as quoted by EW), James Cameron rattles off some thoughts about James Wan's $1.1B-grossing Aquaman, a film which probably features just as many underwater VFX shots as the long-awaited Avatar sequels Cameron's currently putting together for Fox. It should come as no surprise that some of these thoughts are dickish in nature.
“I think [Aquaman]'s great fun. I think it's a movie I could have never made. Truthfully. I could have never made that film because it requires this total dreamlike disconnect from any sense of physics or reality. It exists somewhere between a Greek mythic landscape and a fairy tale landscape. And people just kind of zoom around underwater because … they propel themselves mentally? I guess? I don’t know. But it’s cool. You buy it on its own terms. But I’ve spent thousands of hours underwater. I’m very literal about my underwater. It needs to look like it’s real. And while I can enjoy that film I don’t resonate with it because it doesn’t look real.”
Yes, among many other things, James Cameron is a low-key master of both the backhanded compliment and the subtle throwing of shade. Read that quote again, and marvel at how nimble Cameron's response is, complimenting Aquaman before transitioning into the implication that the film's underwater scenes were borderline cartoonish. He also mentions the thousands of hours he's spent underwater, just in case you feel like questioning his expertise.
Cameron goes on:
“And by the way, [Aquaman] doesn’t help us with our issues of actually understanding the ocean and exploring the ocean and preserving the ocean — though they did throw in a couple things like whales and things like that to remind us we are using the ocean as a garbage dump, so I applaud the film for that. Yeah, I couldn’t have made that movie. We’re doing a lot of underwater in the Avatar sequels and it’s going to have such a different feel.”
You see, again, we have James Cameron making an ostensibly good point ("Aquaman could have done more to spread the word about our oceans being polluted"), going about it in a vaguely dickish way, but then bringing it all back home with a mild compliment and a quick plug for the home team. Do we respect James Cameron? Certainly. Is what he said here a big deal, or even news? Definitely not. But is it entertaining and fun to talk about? Oh, absolutely. Please weigh in with your own thoughts, should you have them, in the space provided below.
The Avatar sequels begin rolling out next Christmas, and will be way more realistic than Aquaman.