There have already been several books about James Cameron, the director of such films as The Terminator, Aliens, Titanic, and Avatar. But this is the one fans of moviemaking books will want. Keegan interviewed dozens of Cameron’s friends and colleagues, including actor Bill Paxton, special-effects wizard Dennis Muren, and fellow director Peter Jackson. Unlike previous writers, Keegan appears neither to idolize nor revile Cameron; she admires him as a filmmaker while acknowledging his often abrasive and controversial on-set behavior. She explores how the director’s big-budget movies are products, not of an overactive ego, but of a fertile imagination and a lifelong dream of telling stories in pictures. She hits the expected high points—the stunning success of and the near-universal predictions of failure for Titanic—but she also spends time on some of the lesser-known episodes from the director’s life, including his battles with a British crew on the set of Aliens (reminiscent of George Lucas’ similar struggles when he was making Star Wars). A fine book, in the same league as J. W. Rinzler’s splendid The Making of Star Wars and The Complete Making of Indiana Jones.
This review originally appeared in Booklist, December 2009.