12 years is a long time, but that's how long it's been since self-proclaimed King of the World, and the undisputed King of the Box-Office James Cameron, last ventured into theatres with a blockbuster big enough to bust actual blocks.
In case you haven't heard, JC is back, and he's bringing with him a small, personal film called Avatar - an intimate production currently estimated to be worth, oh, you know, half a billion dollars.
To refresh your memories and pour icy brine on the naysayers who doubt the specatcle Avatar will surely provide, here are the 20 Greatest James Cameron Moments;
20. True Lies (1994)
Your brain may tell you that a man kidnapping his own wife and coercing her into stripping for a stranger in the guise of a prostitute under the (bogus) justification of national security is somehow ‘wrong’.
That’s because your brain doesn’t get a) how hot Jamie Lee Curtis looks in True Lies, and b) how charming Arnie’s double-life secret agent Harry Tasker is.
19. Titanic (1997)
Head over heels
The only bit of the movie enjoyed by blokes dragged to the cinema by romance-starved other halves.
Cameron knows how to do a proper capsizing, with the Titanic’s grand deck become a lethal, vertiginous fall, and unhappy passengers scuttling down it to an unhappy death. Yeah!
Next: Aquaman!; Going for a Gong [page-break]
18. Entourage (2006)
The best thing Cameron has done since Titanic (although to be fair the only competition is those underwater documentaries) is play himself on glitzy Hollywood comedy Entourage, directing star-within-the-show Vince Chase in Aquaman.
The coolest thing? Cameron asked the show’s producers to make sure Aquaman was a fictional hit. It was.
17. King Of The Academy (1998)
Going for a gong
Having earned enough box office to buy China, Titanic cleaned up at the Oscars, racking up 11 wins including best film and best director.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m having a really great time” Cameron quipped, before doing a slightly cringey “king of the world!” shout and barking his way off stage. He’d earned it, though.
Next: Blow him away; Tech noir [page-break]
16. True Lies (1994)
Blow him away
The last of Cameron’s proper action sequences (Titanic totally doesn’t count). It’s huge, but lands just the right side of awesome:
Arnie’s ultra-spy steals a Harrier jump jet to kill a bunch of terrorists hiding in a skyscraper, before firing a missile upon which the head terrorist is perched through the building and into a chopper full of baddie gunmen. Crikey.
15. The Terminator (1984)
The neon-fizzing nightclub where the relationship between the three principals – Sarah Connor, Kyle Reese, the Terminator – is revealed.
The scene itself is an orgasm of released tension, while the name Tech Noir was adopted as a term for all grimy sci-fi thrillers, and Kyle’s heroic introduction (“Come with me if you want to live”) is a proper classic.
Next: First Contact; From the flames [page-break]
14. The Abyss (1989)
The “non-terrestrial intelligences” at the centre of The Abyss’ anti-nuke plot make their first manifest appearance.
Story-wise, it’s a charming tingler of a moment, but the real magic’s in the special effects – as the sculpted water snaked through the underwater station and greeted its human hosts with a morphed smile, a whole universe of CG possibilities was unveiled.
13. The Terminator (1984)
From The Flames
“Thank goodness that all ov- OH JESUS H TAPDANCING CHRIST!”
Yes, the villain coming back from near-certain death is nothing new in blockbusterland, but when they’re wriggling out from a ton of burning truck wreckage with all their skin burned off to reveal an indestructible metal skeleton, it’s an eye-opener.
Next: One Way ticket; Mother of all truckers [page-break]
12. The Abyss (1989)
One Way Ticket
Yes, we could easily have gone for the final reveal (the grand underwater cities of Earth’s sub-aquatic aliens surfacing like the ocean floor sitting up after a nap).
But more measured and - *sniff* - emotional is the scene directly before, with Ed Harris’ nuke-disarming hero running out of oxygen on the sea floor and clumsily typing a goodbye on his com unit. “Don’t cry baby”.
11. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
Mother of all Truckers
There’s a rhythm and assurance to the action in Terminator 2 which can only be described as awesome.
The setup here is flat-out cool (boy learns he his being both hunted and saved by time-travelling cyborgs, flees to storm drain on trail bike) and the consequent chase a note-perfect mix of piledriving truck, bizarrely reloaded shotgun, and fire.