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The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron Paperback – October 5, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Coinciding with the release of Avatar, James Cameron's first film in over a decade, Time reporter Keegan's solid biography of the dynamic director sheds welcome light on his cinematic achievements. Growing up in Ontario and later Los Angeles, Cameron was an accomplished artist and budding scientist who would bring his fascination with new technology to all his films. From his days doing grunt work for Hollywood indie legend Roger Corman—including his first directing job, helming Piranha 2—Cameron pursued his artistic vision with a passion that often translated into a tyrannical on-set presence. His string of action hits in the 1980s—Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss—made him one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood, and he continued through the 1990s, culminating in the 1997 blockbuster Titanic. With each film, Cameron strove for new technological feats, from shooting tricky underwater dialogue scenes in The Abyss to the reconstruction of a near life-size version of the doomed ship in Titanic. Keegan explores not only the director's achievements on film, including an in-depth look at the 3D-film Avatar but also his often tumultuous personal life (including his five marriages). Fans of the charismatic director will welcome a look behind the scenes of some of the biggest movies in the last two-plus decades. (Dec. 15)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

There have already been several books about James Cameron, the director of such films as The Terminator, Aliens, Titanic, and Avatar. But this is the one fans of moviemaking books will want. Keegan interviewed dozens of Cameron’s friends and colleagues, including actor Bill Paxton, special-effects wizard Dennis Muren, and fellow director Peter Jackson. Unlike previous writers, Keegan appears neither to idolize nor revile Cameron; she admires him as a filmmaker while acknowledging his often abrasive and controversial on-set behavior. She explores how the director’s big-budget movies are products, not of an overactive ego, but of a fertile imagination and a lifelong dream of telling stories in pictures. She hits the expected high points—the stunning success of and the near-universal predictions of failure for Titanic—but she also spends time on some of the lesser-known episodes from the director’s life, including his battles with a British crew on the set of Aliens (reminiscent of George Lucas’ similar struggles when he was making Star Wars). A fine book, in the same league as J. W. Rinzler’s splendid The Making of Star Wars and The Complete Making of Indiana Jones. --David Pitt --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Reissue edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307460320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307460325
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #879,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R D L on August 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rebecca Keegan is a Hollywood based contributor to Time magazine, as the dust jacket of the book explains. And from the first page that's very apparent.

This book is not badly written. Well paced with simplistic language it makes for a fast and easy read. It reads, in fact, like an overlong magazine article.

What I disliked was the content, specifically the lack thereof. It has the same amount of information of an exploded Wikipedia entry on the man. After reading all 274 pages of the book, back to front, there is nothing beyond a very short biography, surface deep overviews of each of his movies and snippets detailing James Cameron's undersea explorations.

Every one of James Cameron's movies has enough behind the scenes drama and technical difficulties to fill a books worth of material on each film, so it's extremely disappointing to see only one or two problems from each movie - well known situations that are listed first after a quick Google search. And none of these situations are explored in any depth - Keegan simply explains the problem and how Cameron's innate genius solved them all, usually in the space of a 100 words.

This book is lacking any depth and utterly fails to really get behind any of the difficulties Cameron regularly experiences with his films and the people that work on and fund them. This is a bare bones book which even worse almost comes off as a pure propaganda piece about James Cameron. The opportunities to call him a genius, revolutionary character are never missed and shoehorned in wherever Keegan can find. The whole read you can't help but feel the presence of Cameron over Keegan's shoulder. Cameron is an infamous man when it comes to control and domination of the people around him.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By SDW67 on February 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was very disappointing. Not very in-depth and consisting mainly of previously written articles, books, and DVD commentaries and interviews as its source material. In fact, in many instances, author Keegan uses words and phrases as her own that I've already heard uttered from the filmmakers on behind the scene documentaries. Next time, she might want to try a thesaurus. Obviously written pretty quickly.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Sweeney on January 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just finished reading this book and while it is somewhat informative regarding Cameron, in many ways it left me wanting more, and not because it was so great. It left me wanting more because much of it feels like a rough superficial look at Cameron's career that was rushed to the printer in order to ship to book stores before Avatar was in theaters.

On the plus side, author Keegan does reveal some of the behind-the-scene studio battles waged by Cameron and the various Fox minions and explains some of the editorial decisions that went into the various cuts of Abyss and Aliens. I also enjoyed learning what led to some of the casting decisions i.e. Leo DiCaprio for Titanic.

That said, the relative dryness of the writing and poor attempts at humor by the author (did she really make an early-90's SNL reference to Mike Myers character on Sprockets?) are distracting and clumsy.

And there are glaring holes in the research -- While Keegan gives us plenty of recollections from Tom Arnold regarding the True Lies shoot, there is hardly any mention of Ed Harris in the Abyss.

And to me probably the biggest omission in the entire book is that there is no photo gallery whatsoever. When you're putting together a book about one of the most successful and visually-oriented directors of our time -- who works in a visual medium, no less -- and neglect to reproduce even one photo or sketch, you are doing the subject of the book and the entire medium a disservice, in my opinion.

The book was worth the read and is a nice appetizer -- especially considering the lack of existing material available about the man -- but this is by no means a definitive tome concerning Cameron and his filmmaking. Consider it Cameron-lite.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By We Adapt on May 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book was not poorly written, simply...written. It was the equivalent of a high school paper doing a feature article on James Cameron and he is a subject matter that is much more deserving than this.

The book covers his career relatively well, but could have delved deeper. I did enjoy the anecdotes of his early efforts and his fearless attitude on whatever new movie he was working on. Would have liked to hear more about his opinion on the content of his earlier movies rather than his insight of actually making the movies.

Also, the post Titanic content was pretty weak. It focused more on his non-film work, but it would have been interesting to really dig and ask some probing questions on his new found celebrity and the implications of having the biggest box office film in history.

Occasionally we would hear Cameron's opinion's on particular subjects and some movies, but would have enjoyed reading a lot more like this. It was briefly noted that Speilberg and Peter Jackson visited his Avatar set - what a great meeting of the cinematic minds. What about some questions on what that conversation was like? Or asking Cameron's opinions on various films? I've read some recent interviews with him and Cameron is so brutally honest on subjects it quite refreshing. Cameron is a major cinema buff - why not more questions on what films he liked/disliked and why?

Mediocre book...cameron is deserving of much better.
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