"James Cameron captures a wonderful mood in this underwater sci-fi adventure with
spectacular elements. It's a human drama, a love story and a science fiction thriller at
its most captivating. What stands out in this extraordinary achievement is that incredible
feeling of claustrophobia and aquatic mystery. The look of the film is amazing, but most
importantly, we are engaged and moved by the characters and their story, as they explore
the depths of the abyss.
This 2-disc set, stylishly packaged in a cleverly designed slimline, sleek case,
contains not only the theatrical version of the film, but also the special edition which
contains an additional 31 minutes of footage. Which film to watch first? Now, there's a
decision to be made.
With all the gee-whizz elements of great menus that give the feeling of being
underwater, it's it's easy to make your selection of the special features. I started with
the 10 minute featurette, giving a good overview of the project and a concise summary of
some of the technical elements. It's rather unnerving to see Jim Cameron talking to us
underwater, while wearing full underwater gear. He sets the scene and says that although
there's a lot of action, it's not about action; although there's a lot of hardware, it's
not about hardware. It's about people, and the journey they take into the abyss to find
out what is there.
Stars Ed Harris and Michael Biehn talk about their roles, and producer Gale Anne Hurd
describes the huge challenge that was undertaken with this project that was mostly shot
underwater. We learn more in the 59 minute 'making of' feature about the detail of the
steel tank from the abandoned nuclear power project in South Carolina which was filled
with 11 million gallons of water. The security issues, the training, the huge scale
engineering work – when you hear the details, you realise the enormity of the
project. Working in a medium 800 times denser than air provided many challenges, and the
solution to mask the sun shining through the water is an interesting and surprising one.
State of the art underwater helmets and backpacks were designed especially for the
film: the helmets allow the faces of the actors to be clearly seen. Watching Cameron
directing underwater where the communication was only one way (he could talk, but crew
could only signal), is absolutely extraordinary.
Gripping, thrilling and always intriguing, The Abyss on DVD is a treat."
Published: December 7, 2000