James Cameron is one of the most influential film directors of all time. He’s provided inspiration for everyone from Quentin Tarantino to Michael Bay. Cameron has helmed two of the highest grossing movies ever made, which were the first and second movies to cross the $2 billion barrier at the worldwide box office. His reception on Rotten Tomatoes has been wildly up and down with his highest-rated film having a 100%, while his lowest-rated film has a measly 6%. It’s interesting to see how the review site ranks his filmography. So, here are all of James Cameron’s Movies, Ranked By Rotten Tomatoes.
8 Piranha II: The Spawning (6%)
James Cameron’s feature film directorial debut did not set his career up for the heights that it would eventually reach. It was the first sequel to Joe Dante’s original Piranha movie, a low-budget B-movie produced by low-budget B-movie king, Roger Corman. Cameron has said that, although he retains a full directing credit on the movie, he was fired two weeks into shooting and replaced by the film’s producer. Funnily enough, Cameron’s later innovations in the realm of 3D filmmaking would inspire a reboot of the Piranha franchise called Piranha 3D, which against all odds, earned itself a decent 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
7 True Lies (72%)
Easily James Cameron’s silliest movie, True Lies is an action comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a secret agent who struggles to balance his spy antics with his family life. He’s essentially a cross between James Bond and Peter Parker. The action sequences are thrilling and Schwarzenegger is likable as always in the lead role, but the plot as a whole is too outlandish to be taken seriously. The film has aged terribly, too, with its bordering-on-misogynistic treatment of women where in one scene, Schwarzenegger uses government resources to stalk and terrorize his wife and stereotypical caricatures of Arab terrorists for villains.
6 Avatar (83%)
A full decade after its release, Avatar was finally topped as the highest grossing movie of all time earlier this year by the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s epic climax, Avengers: Endgame. Avatar had a pretty impressive reign. For a while, it seemed as though it would retain the title and Endgame would fall just short of toppling it. The reason why James Cameron hasn’t directed another movie since is that he’s been working on four Avatar sequels back-to-back. The first one was in development for years while Cameron waited for filmmaking technology to catch up with his vision, and although it’s been criticized for its rehashed plot and overlong runtime, it’s a phenomenal cinematic achievement.
5 Titanic (88%)
Although James Cameron has claimed that he only made Titanic so that 20th Century Fox would pay for him to dive down into the eponymous ship’s wreckage under the sea, he made it a cinematic epic in the truest sense with a heartfelt, if generic and predictable, love story.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet make a pair of compelling leads, and while Billy Zane’s villain is too cartoonish to be menacing or engaging, the supporting cast as a whole does a great job. The second half of the film where the ship sinks is a breathtaking filmmaking achievement.
4 The Abyss (89%)
It might be one of James Cameron’s lesser-known movies, but The Abyss is also one of his best. It’s not perfect. Some of Cameron’s other movies, like Aliens and the first two Terminator movies, outshine it like their Rotten Tomatoes scores will suggest. However, it’s still an underrated gem about a different kind of alien than any other we’ve seen in a sci-fi blockbuster. These aliens travel through the ocean, and they prey on the unsuspecting crew of a sunken American submarine. The three-hour director’s cut is even better than the theatrical cut (which the studio forced Cameron to cut down right before Dances with Wolves’ success trampled on industry expectations of running times).
3 Terminator 2: Judgment Day (93%)
An example of a sequel done right, Terminator 2: Judgment Day suitably upped the stakes from the first one to deliver a movie that was bigger, louder, more action-packed, and yet just as densely plotted and rich with character development. An institutionalized Sarah Connor is broken out by the same Terminator model that was programmed to kill her in the first one, and he’s been assigned to protect her and her now-tween son John from an even more powerful Terminator. The sequel shifts into a thrilling third act when Sarah goes after the family man who invented Skynet in a futile effort to prevent Judgment Day altogether.
2 Aliens (98%)
It’s so rare that a different director will take the reins from a fellow director to helm the sequel to their masterpiece and end up making the sequel a masterpiece in its own right, but that’s what James Cameron did when he took the Alien franchise from Ridley Scott for its sophomore outing.
Whereas the first film is a masterclass in blending sci-fi and horror, the second one is a masterclass is blending sci-fi and horror with action. Cameron gave the second Alien movie just as much suspense, tension, scares, twists, character development, and complex plotting as the first one, but he did so with even more high-octane action.
1 The Terminator (100%)
The first Terminator movie was the only one that used Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 as a bad guy and it wasn’t particularly action-packed, so its strength as a standalone feature is often forgotten. However, having just one Terminator facing off against human characters made the stakes higher and the conflict more relatable. The first film is the deceptively simplistic story of a man who is sent back in time by his commanding officer John Connor to protect his mother from a killer cyborg who has also been sent back in time to assassinate her and prevent John’s birth. The worst Terminator movies are the ones that have two Terminators fighting while the humans just run and hide. Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese didn’t have that luxury; their fate was in their own hands.