User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 63 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 58 out of 63
  2. Negative: 0 out of 63
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  1. Dec 18, 2012
    9
    Riding tall on its still-majestic production design and visuals, James Cameron's "The Abyss" also scores high for its cleverly high-brow story and impressively varied display of performances.
  2. Apr 7, 2013
    9
    I absolutely loved this movie. Great effects, great story and some really memorable characters. Ed Harris in particular. Actually to go back, the effects in this were amazing back when it first came out. But even so, they only play a small part of the movie. Appearing at just the right moments.

    Overall:
    This was one of my favorite movies as a kid, still is today.
  3. Dec 22, 2012
    8
    The plot of James Cameron's fourth film shares many similarities with his third film, Aliens. Teams of armed forces with ultimately ulterior motives sent in to claustrophobic and isolated environments to investigate missing groups. Oh and those environments are occupied by aliens.

    Three-quarters of The Abyss are great as the ever-present dangers of deep sea isolation coupled with
    The plot of James Cameron's fourth film shares many similarities with his third film, Aliens. Teams of armed forces with ultimately ulterior motives sent in to claustrophobic and isolated environments to investigate missing groups. Oh and those environments are occupied by aliens.

    Three-quarters of The Abyss are great as the ever-present dangers of deep sea isolation coupled with Michael Biehn's stir crazy SEAL ratchet up the tension to a decompression sickness-causing level . As the mission begins to fall apart, the greater fear factor is provided by the underwater drama, cut off from the surface in a damaged platform with decreasing oxygen levels rather than the alien presence. This is a little disappointing considering the film followed Aliens, in which there was no doubt what was responsible for the suspense. Cameron obviously felt like giving the Abyss aliens a more mysterious rather than menacing persona. This leads to a slightly disappointing finale as the alien presence is gradually revealed and all threat along with it. It all becomes a little unnecessarily enchanting.

    Ed Harris leads the cast and gives an another excellent performance. Has this guy ever turned in a dud one? Mary Elisabeth Mastrantonio gives an equally assured performance as Harris' estranged wife and platform designer. The rekindling affection between the two is key to the film's success and the scene following Harris' return to the platform with Mastrantonio's body is genuinely emotional and fantastically performed by Harris.

    For it's age, The Abyss still looks great and remains a good to great sci-fi thriller.
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  4. Nov 24, 2010
    6
    The true wonder of the movie seems to take a direct nosedive toward the abyss after temporarily becoming a long war crime drama. Special effects will grab anyone's attention, especially in 1989's case. The characters: developed. Romance: average. Action is "average" as well. The plotline is the center of attention, and it wouldn't be much of a movie without it. James Cameron's vision ofThe true wonder of the movie seems to take a direct nosedive toward the abyss after temporarily becoming a long war crime drama. Special effects will grab anyone's attention, especially in 1989's case. The characters: developed. Romance: average. Action is "average" as well. The plotline is the center of attention, and it wouldn't be much of a movie without it. James Cameron's vision of aliens under the sea are not what you would expect. They appear like giant electric sea creatures that are distorted in a way, making the line hazy between a giant sea creature never before discovered and something that actually came from space. By the end, everyone could be thinking "entertainment under the surface, who knew?" Expand
  5. GilbertMulroneycakesAtSea
    May 9, 2004
    7
    Actually, the newage airheadedness only turns up at the ending - at both endings, in fact, neither of which work very well, being either too dumb or too talky or both. There's no explanation for the aliens - they're just there, and the best you can do is get used to it, damn your eyes. James Cameron doesn't have to explain things to the likes of you, he's the King of Actually, the newage airheadedness only turns up at the ending - at both endings, in fact, neither of which work very well, being either too dumb or too talky or both. There's no explanation for the aliens - they're just there, and the best you can do is get used to it, damn your eyes. James Cameron doesn't have to explain things to the likes of you, he's the King of the World. And the director's cut is nothing so much as longer, which I'm sure you'll agree is something every mid-paced two-and-a-half hour long film needs to be. But never mind, because before the lots o' dumb finish, we have a genuinely tense, claustrophobic and scary movie - a faster Das Boot with aliens - featuring great work from Ed Harris, MaryElizabeth Mastrantonio (give her more work, damn you) and a brilliantly twitchy Michael Biehn sporting a tache which on its own could have caused an interplanetary conflict. It's not His Majesty's best movie ever (Terminator, anyone?) - it's not even his best movie centering around a sinking water-based vehicle - but it's still damn fine. And this DVD package is one of the best there is - look at the expressions of utter blank-eyed horror on the faces of Harris, Mastrantonionionio et al as they recall the shoot. Worth two and a half hours of your life. Whether it was worth several months of their lives in Hell, I'm not so sure. Expand
  6. RobM.
    May 31, 2004
    10
    Another wonderful film art work from this crew. The imagery is out of this multiverse. The way the underwater gear is made is ahead of its time. Angels right in the ocean all along. And then love conquering the divorce courts when Ed rejoins his wife who he deeply loves. Underwater aliens filled with warmth and compasion to befriend the human race even with all its faults. This is a class Another wonderful film art work from this crew. The imagery is out of this multiverse. The way the underwater gear is made is ahead of its time. Angels right in the ocean all along. And then love conquering the divorce courts when Ed rejoins his wife who he deeply loves. Underwater aliens filled with warmth and compasion to befriend the human race even with all its faults. This is a class A movie. Expand
  7. Bill
    Feb 20, 2005
    8
    The movie as a whole was great! However, the ending is what leaves a bad taste. It is never a good thing when you are watching a far out Sci-Fi movie and the thought "Now come on that's just not believable at all" races across your mind at the end of the show.
  8. [Anonymous]
    Jul 11, 2005
    7
    Very good, but it's a bit too long. That female character was too irritating to like, even though she revealed her issues close to the end. The pacing of her development was developed too late, making her annoying and too hard to forgive in the end. Giving us a hook or two suggesting something more to her in the beginning would've solved this problem, and brought more life to Very good, but it's a bit too long. That female character was too irritating to like, even though she revealed her issues close to the end. The pacing of her development was developed too late, making her annoying and too hard to forgive in the end. Giving us a hook or two suggesting something more to her in the beginning would've solved this problem, and brought more life to the enchanting moments. Underwater scenes are excellent. Expand
  9. [Anonymous]
    May 31, 2004
    10
    The whole film is all about taking the viewer on a voyage of discovery. Brilliant cast and beautiful camera work. Anyone who loves science fiction needs to see this show.
  10. Josh
    Jan 30, 2005
    8
    Really great movie. good storyline, theme, effects and acting. Scary at times too. THUMBS UP!!
  11. YoonMinC.
    Oct 21, 2003
    5
    Before Cameron sank the Titanic he made this silly movie about people duking it out far below ocean depths which opportuned him to come up with some impressive underwater effects. The central problem is the mindless plot, the stupid violence, and worst of all, the flaky deep sea civilization that's something like Close Encounters of the Underwater Kind. The director's cut has an Before Cameron sank the Titanic he made this silly movie about people duking it out far below ocean depths which opportuned him to come up with some impressive underwater effects. The central problem is the mindless plot, the stupid violence, and worst of all, the flaky deep sea civilization that's something like Close Encounters of the Underwater Kind. The director's cut has an ending so preachy and hokey one wonders if Cameron is really this stupid or so shamelessly manipulative. Cool effects in the service of newage airheadedness. Expand
  12. BobM.
    Aug 22, 2003
    4
    Sleeper. Didn't like it in my youth or now. Interesting in very few ways. Nice effects. Rent it for a quiet evening when you'll barely pay attention to the movie (quiet evening at home with your lover.)
  13. Jeremy
    Sep 29, 2003
    7
    Ok, the ending sucks. But for most of it's 145 minutes, The Abyss is a first-rate science fiction thriller with intelligence balancing out action.
  14. Mike
    Feb 14, 2005
    7
    One of the better sci fi movies out there. Plenty of action, great special effect, and good cast of actors. The ending isnt exactly what I was hoping for. But overall not a bad movie.
Metascore
62

Generally favorable reviews - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 14
  2. Negative: 1 out of 14
  1. 40
    How many times can we be awestruck by Day-Glo Gumbies? And why do these creatures always travel with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir?
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    75
    If you end up cursing, try not to forget The Abyss' spectacular oil-rig collapse, a killer chase scene, two fine leads, and one Oscar-worthy "creature'' special effect midway through. Do forget the rest - unless you really dig Casper, the Friendly Ghost. [9 Aug 1989, Life, p.1D]
  3. The attempt to extract the essences of several genres (cold-war submarine thriller, love story, Disney fantasy, pseudomystical SF in the Spielberg mode) and mix them together ultimately leads to giddy incoherence.