Monday, 20 February 2012

They can't be stopped!

Welcome to the first entry of my new blog. You're probably wondering why this hasn't happened earlier, but I really can't come up with a decent explanation. 

For this initial foray, I'm going to focus on a breakdown of the rogues gallery assembled by one James "Suck it Lucas!" Cameron.

The Cameronator's films are known for their strong female characters, focus on the limitations of technology, special effects and, latterly massive box office. Oh, and the obligatory mushroom cloud.

What I've never really seen is an analysis/review/rant on the merits of his antagonists. After all, a hero (or in Cameron's case, heroine) is only as good as the villain s/he faces. Thankfully, Cameron is more than up to the task as I'll try to show in the following spiel.

The Cameron villain is generally defined by a few key factors.
  1. If they are not male, then they are excessively masculine to the point of parody (Schwarzenegger's Terminator being the prime example)
  2. They are smart. They generally have a plan and are capable of rolling with the punches and improvising their way out of trouble.
  3. They are not that smart. Every Cameron Big Bad is defined by an ability to focus on a goal and carry it out until the task is completed or until they are completely and utterly dead. In this respect his villains are more akin to forces of nature than human (looking) beings. 
While there are probably more characteristics I could list, I'll cut the crap so you can move onto the list. 

Colonel Miles Quaritch, AVATAR

Though he shares some DNA with THE ABYSS’s Coffey, Quaritch is more akin to the professional grunts of ALIENS. He’s got a mission, he has the guns, he just needs to be pointed in the right direction.

SIGNATURE MOVE: Ignoring the fact his plane is about to crash, and the fact his arm is on fire, Quaritch marches down into the hold, straps himself into a massive battle suit, and jumps to the jungle floor, ready for combat, while the ship crashes behind him. The Cameron badass in a nutshell.
Lieutenant Hiram Coffey, THE ABYSS

The typical Cameron military man turned demented psycho, Cameron re-envisions the professional soldiers of ALIENS as the antagonists, throwing a curveball in the wall of the scientists trying to escape a sinking aqua lab.
SIGNATURE MOMENT: The lab is sinking faster and faster, but Coffey decides now is the perfect time to engage in a little knife fight with the other survivors. Batty, batty boy.
Salim Abu Aziz, TRUE LIES

Racial stereotype? Uh, well you see, uh....zabababa supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Okay I'll leave that to you. However as a Cameron villain he fits the standard, as the following example will prove.
SIGNATURE MOMENT: He's so hellbent on destroying the hero he jumps onto Arnie's Harrier Jet and points a gun at him. If that doesn't scream "I'm the King of the World!" then I don't know what will.

I could go into details, but he's just really, really cool-looking doing the things he does. 
SIGNATURE MOVE: Walking through a barred door without a blink.
The Alien Queen, ALIENS

The Alien may have come from the mind of Dan O'Bannon, but the uncompromising, unstoppable Queen is all Cameron. Coming on like an unholy combo of his strong female mother-figures (Sarah Connor, Ellen Ripley) and the sheer, brute force of the Terminator, the Alien Queen is the passionate, vengeful yang to the colder, more cynical villainy of Cameron''s male antagonists.
SIGNATURE MOMENT: Alien uses elevator. Shit, there goes the neighborhood.
That damn iceberg, TITANIC
Less dialogue than the Terminator. Bigger than the Queen. I could have gone with Billy Zane, but there's no room for pouting in the Cameron badass, only an implacable, unstoppable sense of impending doom. And on that count the 'Berg KOs Zane (and everything else in the movie). 
SIGNATURE MOMENT: The duet with Celine Dion. Just kidding.
The Terminator, THE TERMINATOR

The big kahuna. This one lays down the template for the Cameron bad 'un. Intelligent. Simple. Direct. Ruthless. And efficient. There's no bullshit to the Cameron antagonist, and the Terminator encapsulates that ethos to a T.
SIGNATURE MOMENT: As if getting shot, burned, and stabbed wasn't enough, it gets blown in half and STILL keeps going. 

And that's it. Right, I gotta go do grown up stuff now but I'll catch you later. Good morrow!

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