July 23, 2020


James Cameron's STORY OF SCIENCE FICTION (Blu-ray Review)
Featuring James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, Guillermo del Toro, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana. (2018/252 min)

Review by Cuddles, the Couch Potato😺

A more appropriate title might have been Story of Science Fiction Movies. Other mediums - such as books, comics & television – are given some props, but an overwhelming majority of the content focuses on films, particularly those from the '70s onward (and few which hail from outside the U.S.).

But I get it. It ain't like there are a lot of compelling clips of Jules Verne in action, and from a sponsorship point of view, I suppose it makes economic sense that they primary showcase films most viewers have heard of.

Six episodes make up James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction, each focusing on a specific theme: “Alien Life,” “Space Exploration,” “Monsters,” “Dark Futures,” “Intelligent Machines” and “Time Travel.” The sheer volume of clips from various related titles – from classics to modern blockbusters - is impressive, as is the list of luminaries who show up to talk about them...actors, directors, authors, even a few scientific and/or literary scholars.

Each episode is a quick-paced, entertaining and sprawling overview of films – with occasional books & TV shows – that are representative of its theme. Most are lauded with a quick clip & comment or two, while some seminal classics are explored in a bit more detail, though not a lot of depth. The show will probably be of greater interest to casual fans than hard-core sci-fi geeks, who aren't likely to see or hear much they didn't already know.

Cameron feigns interest.
Cameron himself hosts one-on-one chats with some of the most successful living directors who've dabbled in the genre, such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro. When they're able to get a word in edgewise – Cameron loves to inform them what their own movies are about – most offer interestingly diverse views on the genre. Spielberg comes across as the most boyishly optimistic, del Toro the most enthusiastic, Lucas the nerdiest.

Frequent collaborator Arnold Schwarzenegger shows up, too, but appears content to let Cameron do most of the talking. Since Cameron's also one of the few major directors to work almost exclusively within the genre, I guess he's earned that privilege. Besides, he's an authoritative host and his analogies are sound, his enthusiasm infectious. Hell, maybe he does know more about certain movies than the directors who made them.

Though not an all-encompassing history, James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction is an enjoyable whirlwind tour of the films, creators and concepts we most associate with the genre. I wish it would have explored the distant past more thoroughly than it does (perhaps a season two sci-fi chronology?), but it's hard to argue with the treasure trove that is included.


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