Sci-Fi Movie Month: "The Abyss" Review

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A civilian diving team are enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine and face danger while encountering an alien aquatic species
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Sci-Fi Movie Month: "The Abyss" Review

-- Rating: PG-13 (some scenes of nudity, violence, gore, and profanity)
Length: 171 minutes
Release Date: August 9, 1989
Directed by: James Cameron
Genre: Adventure/Drama/Sci-Fi

Directed by James Cameron, "The Abyss" clocks in at a little over 2.5 hours long, but its captivating story makes it worthwhile. Starring actors such as Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Michael Biehn, this film tells an adventurous, suspenseful story about a major crisis that demonstrates the polarity of human behavior and emotion.

While patrolling in the Caribbean Sea, The Montana, a US Navy nuclear submarine, cruises by a suspicious vessel. As the two vessels cross paths, the US submarine temporarily loses power and is unable to control the direction of the ship. As the mysterious vessel passes away, the US submarine regains power. However, it's too late, as the sub crashes into an underwater wall and is destroyed. As the ship floods and the crew prepares for their dismal fate, the captain is able to send off an emergency beacon and alert the Navy.

Due to high levels of tension caused by the Cold War, Russia sends ships to investigate the mysterious crash of the nuclear submarine; meanwhile, the US Navy is also scrambling to figure out what is going on.

Early in the film, you will notice the air of distrust and fear as the potential for World War III emerges. "The Abyss" shows how different people react when confronted with great danger. There is widespread confusion among the Navy SEALS-regarded as one of the most well-trained military units in the world-who are sent to investigate the situation. Although anger, confusion, and distrust are the primary feelings displayed in the beginning of the crisis, over time we see how humans have the ability to come together when there is a potential worldwide problem.

The SEALS commandeer a privately owned oil drilling platform, as it's the quickest way to reach the sunken submarine. The chief engineer of the platform, Dr. Lindsey Brigman, and the foreman, Virgil "Bud" Brigman, are an estranged couple who still love each other, and this love is one of the things that helps to save them and the rest of the crew.

Aside from the primary story of the investigation of the unknown underwater vessels, "The Abyss" gives a personal, upfront look into typical human behavior through the actions of the Navy, the platform crew, Virgil, and Lindsey. Underneath the initial reaction of anger and aggression in response to a problem, Cameron shows that humans will come together and display camaraderie and courage in order to solve a major crisis.

Later in the movie, the Navy realizes that they aren't dealing with human life forms. The mysterious vessel is controlled by aliens, referred to as nonterrestrial intelligences, or NTIs. Navy SEAL leader Lieutenant Coffey becomes more and more paranoid as he discovers more information regarding the NTIs and decides to shoot nuclear warheads at the NTI vessels. Lindsey and Bud decide to work together to stop this. They descend into the ocean along with a few other crew members and are able to disarm one of the warheads; however, their submarine is badly damaged and needs to be brought back to the surface. Bud decides to take a large risk and puts on an experimental breathing system that will allow him to descend deeper into the ocean. He successfully disarms the final warhead; however, he doesn't have enough oxygen to get to the surface. He made this self-sacrificing decision to save his wife's life and the rest of the crew on the oil platform. Cameron shows that he believes that in times of crisis, humans are able to come together and make tough choices for the benefit of society or a loved one.

Although this movie is directed by the same person who made "Aliens," it has a completely different feel to it. While this movie is longer than most, it uses the time to its advantage and tells an emotional, heartfelt story about love, sacrifice, and camaraderie.

Rating: 3 out of 5