James Cameron Tells Us Which Of His Older Movies Would Be ‘So Much Better Now’ If He Had The Tools Currently Available To Him

James Cameron has been pushing the envelope in terms of modern movie-making technology throughout the course of his entire career. This has led to him making some of the most expensive movies ever made, from Titanic to the first Avatar. But his detail, attention, and expertise in craft is what has allowed those movies to climb to the top of the box office ranks. Just ask Kate Winslet how she felt when Avatar passed Titanic as the highest-grossing film of all time. Still, because Cameron has evolved with technology, it means that he didn’t always have the sharpest tools at his disposal, and there’s one movie that the A-list director wishes he could improve with the technology that’s at his disposal today.

When rattling off the list of stone-cold James Cameron masterpieces, which we tried to do with this Cameron ranking, most people probably blow through Titanic, T2, True Lies, Aliens and Avatar before they remember the underwater thriller The Abyss. In the film, SEAL team members and deepsea drill experts race to retrieve a warhead from a sunken submarine, encountering a strange creature in the middle of their expedition. The movie makes our list of the 35 Best Sci-Fi Films Ever Made, yet Cameron told CinemaBlend during a recent press day that he knows he could do a better job today. The director exclaimed:

Oh, can you imagine? So, like, The Abyss worked pretty well. And there was that really strong scene with Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio where they bring her back to life and all of that. But the ending, the big ship coming out of the water, we could do that so much better now. I look at it now, and it’s, like, quaint. At best.

To be fair, James Cameron is a noted perfectionist. Which is how he has been able to deliver so many exquisite films over the course of his career. And while some might say that a movie made in 1989 doesn’t have a prayer of looking modern or cutting edge, I’d push back and say that only two years later, with T2: Judgment Day, Cameron created eye-popping visual effects that look better than some of the blockbusters arriving in theaters to this day. The man is a pioneer. And yes, I’d love to see him brush up on The Abyss using some of the tech that’s at his fingertips to this day, but the “quaint” look and feel of The Abyss is what keeps it special, in my humble opinion. It shows where Cameron was at that time. His new movies show how far he has come.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Ed Harris in The Abyss

(Image credit: twentieth century fox)

You will be able to see how far James Cameron has gone when his latest movie, Avatar: The Way of Water, opens in theaters this week. The filmmaker returns audiences to the alien world of Pandora more than a decade after Avatar first landed in theaters. But as with The Abyss, audiences will appreciate how much Cameron has evolved as both a storyteller and a technician. The early reactions to Avatar: The Way of Water all have been extremely positive, with even Guillermo Del Toro raving about how much he loved it. Will you see it in 3D? Will it break records at the box office? It’s going to be an exciting end to the year, no matter what happens.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.