User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 51 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 47 out of 51
  2. Negative: 0 out of 51

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  1. Apr 7, 2013
    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.

    This was one of my favorite movies as a kid, still is today.
  2. Dec 22, 2012
    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.
  3. Dec 18, 2012
    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.
  4. Nov 24, 2010
    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 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

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
    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.