The Abyss

Year: 1989
Directed By: James Cameron
Written By: James Cameron


What makes James Cameron such a fantastic filmmaker is his ability to show us something really mind blowing.  He has a great imagination and ability to film action scenes but he has consistently been able to go out there and do something that nobody else has ever done.  That’s something he did with The Abyss, something nobody else had done or even thought of.  The story is very imaginative, truly great science fiction, which was Cameron’s calling card throughout the 80s and early 90s. I have read that this film was really difficult to make, and that James Cameron is a major asshole.  I specifically read that during filming Ed Harris was on the way home from shooting one day and pulled his car to the side of the road because he broke down crying. The filming was that hard on him and getting to him. I have also read that Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio had a physical and emotional breakdown during filming. Cameron is notorious for being a hard ass on set and hard to work with.  As far as I am concerned though, he can be an asshole as much as he wants as long as he keeps delivering those hits.  He proved to us all that he still had it when Avatar came out, again doing something nobody else had done and showing us something new and exciting in 3D. Obviously I am a big fan and very proud of the fact that he owns the #1 and #2 spot on the highest grossing films of all time list.  With that kind of success, Cameron could literally decide to make a movie about toilet paper and every movie studio out there would beg him for the rights.

The Abyss is a very long movie, but it is more than worth the time.  The story is great and ambitious, it’s an idea so big that only a guy like James Cameron would have dared to do it.  The movie takes place underwater, I can only imagine how difficult it was to actually make, and how expensive.  James Cameron actually almost drown to death during filming, both lead actors were on the verge of losing it, it must have been insane.  They somehow put it all together and made it work though.  I am a fan of Ed Harris and I think he does well playing the lead role.  I am not a fan of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, but she is also very good in this film.  It warmed my heart a few years back when I was watching South Park and saw the scene where Mastrantonio was being revived reenacted by Cartman and Kyle during one of the Imaginationland episodes.  That is a powerful and gripping scene, I can only hope that people realized what it was when they saw it on South Park.  Also in this film was James Cameron regular, Michael Beihn. I think Michael Beihn is an awesome actor, I don’t understand why he hasn’t had a more successful career.

The liquid oxygen technology used in the film was and is apparently a real thing.  The scene where the rat is submerged was actually really happening on set and there were problems with animal rights activist because of it.  Ed Harris did not breathe liquid oxygen though, and during filming those scenes had to act with his helmet full of water while submerged in the tank.  It must have been unbearable, and you can see his strain on his face as he falls down the canyon. The film won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects and it was well earned.  The special effects in the film are incredible even by today’s standards, they must have been absolutely mind blowing upon release in 1989. If you have never seen this film then it is definitely a must see. If you have already seen it, it is always worth a revisit.  Excellent movie all the way.


The Abyss is a good movie. It is entertaining and intriguing enough to keep you focused and into it the entire time, which is a while. They only downfall is how long the movie is, but the adventure it takes you on is well worth it. James Cameron is a pro at making us (the human race) feel like we are doing something wrong and that we should change our selves for the greater good. This is a common theme throughout his films. In this particular one, I love that he puts the characters in a position that we aren’t all familiar with. I don’t think I know one single person that actually works on a submarine. He captures the surreal life of people that live under water most of the time. We are interested because it isn’t something that we encounter on an everyday basis, or perhaps, ever. We get to see characters change, always important, and we also get to see how the human race is split into good and evil, and age-old, but ever important fact.

I definitely think this movie is a must see if you are a movie lover. It is an award winner, by an amazing writer/director and it has also been parodied by many television shows and cartoons.

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