More than Thirty years later, we are still getting films based on the characters created by James Cameron in this essential 1984 classic. This film is so influential on modern cinema and culture that it is the equivalent of an earthquake. The ground moved and the world took notice. This was a mostly unheralded film at the time. It was done on a relatively low budget, it’s star was not yet the household name that he would become, and it was the first real film directed by future “King of the World” James Cameron. This movie laid the groundwork for Cameron’s later career and creative freedom, but here he had to fight to keep control of the project and to try and get it the promotion that it deserved. It came in behind “Red Dawn” on the box office totals for 1984 and barely edged out “City Heat” to be the number 21 film that year with just over $38 million domestically. Modest financial beginnings but big creative ones.
There are a couple of obvious reasons this sequel fails to live up to the standard of it’s predecessor, but there were so many other things going for it that it is hard to figure out why it fails. Let’s take a look at the first (and definitely the least) of the Arnold Schwarzenegger films of 1984.
Basil Poledouris is back with a reasonable score that can never match the perfection of the first but does echo it adequately so we can tell it is from the same source. Jack Cardiff, the legendary cinematographer, was behind the camera for this. Cardiff’s work in Black Narcissus is the main subject in a post I did last year on a Secret Santa blog. This work was gorgeous to look at some times but the camera does not really follow the action well. That is the fault of the director.