HARDBARNED! The Blog

An Open Letter To James Cameron

Dear Jim,

May I call you Jim? Great, thanks.

Congratulations on your 2012 journey to the absolute deepest depths of the sea, and in a new craft that you co-designed with an international team of other brainiac sci-fi nerds, no less. I mean that in the most sincerely flattering way; it's a towering achievement, and who better to make the trip? With rapt fascination, I read last month’s National Geographic story, and you look pretty cool there on the cover in your farmer-john wetsuit, as if you’re out for a wee swim at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

It only could have been cooler if your pal, the former Governator, had been your co-pilot and had narrated your upcoming documentary on the experience. I can see Arnie now, up close through a fish-eye lens, doing his best David Attenborough, eyes bulging, toothy grin, marveling in his trademark Austrian accent at the unidentified "gelatinous blob, smaller than a child's fist," that you discovered on the bottom at 35,787 feet. Alas, your vessel was not designed to accommodate a Mr. Universe-sized co-pilot, or any co-pilot at all, but the idea reminds me a bit of Arnold and Bruce in that little Smart Car in The Expendables 2.

As an explorer in residence, you must get a lot of letters from kids who either like your movies (the ones they are allowed to watch), love your deep-sea documentaries, follow your ongoing adventures or some combination of all three. Just consider me one of those little kids. So, if you want to write me back and send a die-cast model of your awesome Deepsea Challenger sub, that would rule. I even read somewhere that you're headed to the Mir space station (on your own dime) as soon as the opportunity arises. Of course you are, and you should be. I bet Elon Musk and Richard Branson will join you on the first shuttle to Mars. Hopefully by that time you won’t be as old as Guy Pierce was in Prometheus.

Funneling your blockbuster proceeds into eco-awareness and scientific exploration is as admirable as it is unique. What has Michael Bay discovered lately? Though I missed out on your first feature, Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981), I did watch the homemade trailer posted "by Tom aged 8." I noticed that the movie is available for streaming on Amazon, but I'm not sure it's worth my 10 bucks.

Then again, somehow I did once manage to watch the entirety of Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus (starring Debbie Gibson and Lorenzo Lamas) without being held down or punched in the head, so maybe I should reconsider your directorial debut. As you once said, it was perhaps “the best movie about flying piranhas ever made.” And Lance Henriksen is in there somewhere, so maybe I’ll give it a shot one day.

I've watched your career for decades, share your fascination with the ocean and its inhabitants, and I love a great deal of your work. In fact, we have something significant in common. We both had truck-driving jobs before embarking on our current careers—yours in Hollywood as the most financially successful filmmaker of all time, and mine in non-profit technical writing cubicle job. I guess that’s where the shared experience ends—right after that truck driving bit.

Anyway, you’ve directed several of my favorites, particularly The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). I even wrote my master’s thesis on Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and Solaris, the underrated sci-fi remake of Tarkovsky’s classic 1972 adaptation of Lem’s 1961 novel, which you produced for Steven Soderbergh to direct in 2002.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about Terminator 5. Apparently it is really happening and may be upon us as early as 2015. Congratulations on your recent conversion to veganism, but I have a beef. I know that was inexcusable, but I just couldn’t resist. Maybe my beef is entirely irrelevant, just like my blog, or not entirely beef at all (like what they serve at McDeath), but I’m writing mostly to amuse myself anyway, as you may have noticed by my general lack of audience.

Your potential involvement in T5 at this point in the process may be impossible. The deals may already be inked, and the mighty blockbuster financiers who must be obeyed may already have spoken their final words about who has artistic control of what (and who doesn’t). You may have already sold your rights to the entire franchise and wiped your hands of the series forever, content to rake in the proceeds generated by the eternal multimedia spinoffs featuring the characters you created long ago. I don’t know.

You once said that “the primary reason for making a third [Terminator film] was financial, and that didn’t strike [you] as organic enough a reason to be making a film.” You went on to say that you’d “rather spend a year of [your] life in hell to make something new” instead of another sequel, and that you declined T3 because you “had told the story.” When T4 was buzzing, you said “I kind of turned my back on the Terminator world when there was early talk about a third film. I’d evolved beyond it. I don’t regret that, but I have to live with the consequence, which is that I keep seeing it resurrected. I’m not involved in Terminator Salvation (2009). I’ve never read the script. I’m sure I’ll be paying 10 bucks to see it like everybody else.”

The point is, Jim, and I know you’ve said no several times over, but (if only for argument’s sake) why not consider a triumphant return to the series? Why subject yourself, and millions of fans of the two films you directed—Terminator purists, if you like—to another substandard sequel by other people who shouldn’t be in charge of what you created? Do you really want to endure another one? Of course we all watch the others, probably just once, but yours are the ones residing on our shelves decades later, on Laser Disk, BetaMax, VHS, DVD, HD-DVD, Blu-Ray or on our hard-drives for viewing ad infinitum.

Your Terminator films are the only two that really count. Why not treat yourself and the rest of us to your full attention, for one last time, fully and finally resolving the story of the Connor family? Bringing back Linda Hamilton and Eddie Furlong would be a nice touch too. It's already a given that Arnold will be in there somehow, and I'm sure he'd be happier than anyone to have you take charge again.

Like many of us, you could pretend that T3 and T4 never happened, just like most of us pretend that there are only three Star Wars films. If you were indeed “quietly advising” Arnold about returning for T5, wouldn’t you like to make one final film and crush the last two pretenders like an old skull under the heel of a fleshless, menacing T-800? I know you’re busy with more Avatars and Battle Angels and all your exploration stuff, but you should own T5. It’s your baby, Jim. 

Ridley came back to the Alien universe after 30 years. You could return to the Terminator’s and knock one out of the park for all of us. We sure hope it’s not too late, Jim, and that maybe, just maybe, you'll...you know...be back.

Sincerely,

Terminator Purists for Unobtainium (AKA a Cameron-scribed and helmed T5)