The Abyss (1989)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Sci-Fi, Sci-Fi Adventure, Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Aug 9, 1989 (USA)  |   Run Time - 138 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

Turning away from the dystopias of The Terminator (1984) and Aliens (1986), James Cameron marshaled innovative special effects (and a motley crew of oil drillers) to assert that love is the answer in The Abyss (1989). Reportedly inspired by underwater footage of the recently located Titanic wreckage, Cameron decided to transfer his science-fiction-spectacle expertise to the deep sea. Shot underwater in a seven million gallon nuclear reactor tank, this extended yarn about nuclear subs, oil rig divers, and the interpersonal relations between the oddball Deepcore crew, their fearless leader Bud, his prickly almost ex-wife Lindsey, and gung-ho Navy SEALS feels authentically claustrophobic and other-worldly. The seraphic NTIs complete the sub-terrestrial wonder. Praised for its visual splendor and strong performances from Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, if not always for its plot, The Abyss was not quite the blockbuster it needed to be. But the ground-breaking, Oscar-winning special effects -- particularly the exploratory water node -- set the stage for the 1990s' explosion in CGI effects, beginning with Cameron's molten-metal T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). Despite The Abyss's warm message about marital bonds, Cameron and producer-wife Gale Anne Hurd split during production.