James Cameron’s epic sci-fi film The Abyss is absolutely incredible, a film that has gained in reputation over the years, and one that I really wish I could see on the big-screen some day. The recent news that Cameron is finally beginning to prep this film (not to mention True Lies…) for Blu-ray makes me very excited. Ed Harris is absolutely riveting as a deep sea diver who encounters an alien species at the bottom of the ocean, while Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Michael Biehn were both fantastic in super-intense supporting roles. The underwater photography is breathtaking, the overall cinematography package by veteran lenser (and sometimes director) Mikael Salomon is positively stunning on every single aesthetic level, and Alan Silvestri’s exciting and emotional musical score ratchets up the drama and tension and suspense in every afforded moment.
A fleet of dynamic film editors including Conrad Buff, Howard E. Smith, and Joel Goodman (with no doubt an army of assistants) all collaborated with sterling results; this film is so slick and beautifully cut that it’s pure joy to watch it with the sound turned off. The entire production is beyond fascinating to read about; check out the IMDB and Wikipedia for some truly insightful stuff. The Abyss, arriving in theatres in 1989, was definitely made on the cutting-edge (as all Cameron productions are), but couldn’t rely on extensive CGI which was still in its infancy in terms of the dominating type of special effect. SO MUCH of this film was done practically, with massive sets and real stunt-people and just absurd production values all over the place. And yet, somehow, it only reportedly cost $50 million to produce. Mind-boggling. I also think the Special Edition/Director’s Cut is better than the theatrical version.
Review by Nick Clement