Movie Review – The Abyss Explained

The Abyss was written and directed by James Cameron came out in 1989 and has just had its special edition 4k re-release in theaters. It was only for a one night, one showtime only, and I got to see it on the biggest screen in my area. It’s about a civilian diving team enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine that faces danger while encountering an alien aquatic species. I also got this amazing poster from the theater, so I really appreciate that. Thank you to whoever made this a thing. I love it.

If you don’t know when it comes to physical media, Blu-ray releases. The Abyss is one of the most sought after that’s ever existed. For whatever reason, James Cameron has never released this on Blu-ray, certainly not 4k same with his film True Lies. Alongside movies like David Fincher’s Panic Room and Strangely M Night Shyamalan’s The Village have never seen a Blu-ray release. We are now into 4k.

These movies have skipped an entire generation of physical media for some reason. There’s plenty more, but those are some of the biggest examples that I could immediately think of. I don’t know why the Abyss has never been released on Blu-ray. I don’t know if Cameron’s talked about it in the past, but I can assume that it’s probably because he’s a perfectionist and wants everything to be at the highest technical quality possible.

When it comes to seeing this movie on the big screen, I was truly utterly transported. I can’t even tell you how much I needed this experience tonight. Everything that’s going on in my personal life right now, I’m very happy about it. When it comes to film this year, I’m hurting, guys. I’m feeling kind of depressed about movies right now.

I covered all of this in the video I made about being concerned for the future of movies. Watching the Abyss tonight on the biggest screen in my area reminded me why I love movies and reminded me why I make them, why I want to continue to make them because the phrase they don’t make them like they used to is overused. I overuse it.

It should be reserved for movies like this because every scene I was just like how the fuck did they do this? I was one year old when this movie came out. This would be like an earth shattering achievement if it came out today because of all the standards they have now for making movies and how things have changed so much since I was born.

In 1989, it was still a monumental achievement and although it’s known for revolutionizing special effects like for instance the water tentacle that spreads throughout the ship that mini-credit as the first step towards the T1000 in Terminator 2 also directed by James Cameron. What makes this movie so damn good is the characters and the writing.

James Cameron is a phenomenal writer and sometimes he doesn’t get enough credit for that because he’s made so many advancements in the technology side of filmmaking that many people don’t realize that the guy can write a damn good movie.

The conflict between husband and wife in the middle of a separation that will probably lead to a divorce that are now trapped together on this underwater station and have to deal with the fact that there’s also a crazy guy played by Michael Bean exceptionally well by the way who’s trying to recover a nuclear warhead from a down submarine and the depth and the pressure is starting to get to him and he’s cracking.

They’re also running out of oxygen and a lot of their gear is failing them and there’s an alien presence that may or may not be hostile nearby. These are stakes upon stakes and that’s something Cameron is phenomenal at. Every time he presents a film you usually go because you think well I’m going to see the special effects I’m excited to see blue people in Avatar.

I’m excited to see the Titanic ship. I’m looking forward to seeing all these aliens fight Ripley whatever it is. I want to see Arnold go up against a pile of goo. All of that’s the selling point.

When you get to the movie and he has you there you realize you care more about the characters than any of that stuff and that really is just the icing on the cake.

The abyss is filled with so many scenes that just would never happen today. The amount of water on set. The action sequences that are taking place in the water. Actors who are actually swimming and nearly drowning. This was according to many reports a very difficult shoot. Actors on set apparently started calling the film “Son of Abyss” and from what I understand to this day some actors involve with the film don’t even like talking about it and refuse to talk about it.

That being said it’s actually really good and I think that’s why James Cameron can keep getting away with putting his actors through the ringer because he actually does make classics that endure through time. So yeah it’s a difficult shoot but hey man I mean I’m sitting here in 2023 and I just saw this movie in a theater so film turned out pretty good.

Allens Sylvester in the 80s was delivering incredible scores over and over again from back to the future to predator to the abyss. Obviously today his work extends into the Avengers movies he’s a genius. When the opening title appears and we zoom into the Y and we’re in the ocean and that music was blaring I got chills across my entire body and I think the abyss does something exceptionally well that you’ll hear many genre writers talk about who want to make the next great horror movie or thriller action or whatever and that’s a remarkably well crafted story that you can get invested in with real characters and real drama in a real world situation you understand everything and that’s good enough but there’s also a supernatural element.

All of the best horror movies do this all the best sci-fi does this. When you care enough about the world and you feel like you know I could actually just watch these people at work with their conflict and I would be invested. I could watch Ed Harris go up against Michael Bean in a fight because one of them is lost his mind and there’s a nuclear war head at stake.

All of that is good enough. The alien aspect of the movie adds that fun genre feel that sense of awe. Now for some people that doesn’t work and it’s actually the part of the abyss they don’t like.

I think some of that will depend on which version of the movie you watch whether you watch the theatrical or the special edition because the special edition goes a little harder with some of that alien stuff towards the end but I’ve always loved it and yes there are large chunks of the movie where the aliens aren’t around but there’s enough of them sprinkled throughout to get you curious about what exactly is going on and of course James Cameron has always been an environmentalist.

He cares a lot about the earth especially the ocean and this film like many of his others shows us that our folly, our war, our constant battles and death have led us to a very poor place and this is in 1989 you know we’re seeing all kinds of things still today where he’s still kind of trying to warn us through his movies that we’re not treating the planet properly and that we’re destroying ourselves and he finds a way to make very entertaining movies that are exceedingly commercial and accessible to every person on the planet while also letting us know how he feels about things going on on that very planet.

This year has said plenty of good films that I do think will endure over time. Movies that I very much love that do remind me why films can be so transported movies like Oppenheimer or Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning. hey’re out there, they exist. There are still some films yet to come out this year that I’m very excited to see like the boy and the heron or the iron claw but I really needed to see this movie on a big screen.

I really felt deprived creatively of seeing movies that felt like someone just had a vision and put a lot of people through a lot of stress to get it made but it’s tough to make any movie especially a great one like the Abyss. Guys let me know what you think of the Abyss.

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