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James Cameron: Star Wars The Force Awakens lacked visual imagination

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens may have smashed box office records, garnered positive reviews, and ushered in a new era for the beloved franchise — but one feat it didn’t seem to accomplish was dazzling James Cameron.

In a recent video interview that surfaced on YouTube, the pioneering director behind such sci-fi blockbusters as Terminator 2, Aliens, and Avatar is asked his opinion of the J.J. Abrams-directed reboot, and his response is rather lukewarm.

Cameron begins with the caveat that Star Wars creator George Lucas “is a friend of mine,” and “I don’t want to say too much about [The Force Awakens] because I also have a lot of respect for J.J. Abrams and I want to see where they’re taking it next.”

But, he continues, “I have to say that I felt that George’s group of six films had more innovative visual imagination, and this film was more of a retrenchment to things you had seen before and characters you had seen before. And it took a few baby steps forward with new characters. So for me the jury’s out. I want to see where they go with it.”

Even if Cameron wasn’t blown away by The Force Awakens, he still respects the Star Wars series’ box office might. In an interview with Famous Monsters of Filmland in April, Cameron said he would avoid scheduling his four Avatar sequels — the first of which is currently slated for a Christmas 2018 release — directly against future Star Wars installments.

“I don’t want to go head-to-head with Star Wars,” he said. “That would be stupid. And hopefully they won’t want to go head-to-head with us.”