Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation | Release Date: August 9, 1989
7.7
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 71 Ratings
USER RATING DISTRIBUTION
Positive:
59
Mixed:
10
Negative:
2
Watch Now
Buy On
Stream On
Review this movie
VOTE NOW
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Check box if your review contains spoilers 0 characters (5000 max)
9
Compi24Dec 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.
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
All this user's reviews
9
Rox22Apr 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 smallI 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.
Expand
2 of 2 users found this helpful20
All this user's reviews
8
A_NorthernerDec 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 andThe 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.
Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
All this user's reviews
7
[Anonymous]Jul 11, 2005
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 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
0 of 0 users found this helpful
7
SpangleJul 4, 2017
So this is where Michael Bay got the belief that oil rig workers could be tasked with government jobs that concern the safety of the planet and species. In fairness to Bay, not only is Armageddon a better film (shoot me), but if James CameronSo this is where Michael Bay got the belief that oil rig workers could be tasked with government jobs that concern the safety of the planet and species. In fairness to Bay, not only is Armageddon a better film (shoot me), but if James Cameron did it, it has to be right. If Cameron said that the world was flat, considering how much time he spends in submarines, it would be hard to deny him that fact. Thus, in cinema, if he says something works in a film, who am I to argue? Taking Close Encounters of the Third Kind, sprinkling in Sidney Lumet's Fail-Safe, blending it with Bay's later film Armageddon, tossing in Robert Zemeckis’ Contact, and dumping it underwater like the end of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, James Cameron's The Abyss is both heavily influenced by other films and, naturally, its style is similarly influential. Though it may be a bit too cliche, sentimental, and wholly predictable, but in its sickly sweetness is Cameron's typical directorial brilliance. With pitch perfect action sequences and rock solid production design, The Abyss is able to overcome its sentimentality and cliches.

This mess of sentiment and narrative cliches is largely found in the relationship between Bud (Ed Harris) and Lindsey (Mary Elizabeth Mastroantonio). With Lindsey the brain child behind the oil rig that is tasked with finding the lost USS Montana and Bud the man who operates the rig, the stage is set for this married couple to rekindle their love for one another. At the brink of divorce, always fighting, and butting heads, Bud and Lindsey's relationship is tested when the oil rig must face off with their Navy pals who are intent on blowing up the nuclear warheads on the USS Montana and with the alien aquatic species they encounter underwater. Cameron sprinkles obvious symbols and sentiment throughout this film with to their relationship, but it mostly all comes together to mean: love conquers all wounds. When Bud was about to drown, he sticks his hand in a rapidly closing doorway, and the door only does not shut because it got stuck on his wedding ring. When Lindsey is about to drown, Bud's love for her and unwillingness to give up on her breathing again is what saves her. When Bud is about to drown after doing a deep dive, it is his love for her that keeps him going and keeps him sane. It is cliche and similar to any number of films with the "they really do love each other" trope. Sprinkled with the awe of meeting aliens and the reuniting of a once fractured couple and this is a sickly sweet concoction that one would expect from Steven Spielberg, but stands as Cameron's first foray into lazy emotional heartstring pulling (see: Titanic).

This couple strife is at the center of many films and, yet, it is just one of Cameron's indulgences in cliches. Though Cameron is a master of action direction, his weak point has always been the story of his films, having to rely upon cliches and simple characterizations as a jumping off point for brilliant special effects and thrilling moment after thrilling moment. The Abyss is no exception, but does begin to run a bit clunky due to these indulgences in cliches. These cliches include the God-like aliens who are there merely to save humanity unless it demands destruction and the military characters that are overly enthused to blow stuff up even when it is readily apparent that their conclusion is way off the reservation. Cameron doubles down with that aforementioned relationship, however, in turning it into a "love conquers all" type of film where love is given dominion over plausibility. Though a film about alien encounters, it can still be plausible until the end when love saves both Bud and Lindsey even when both would have died long before they met one another again. This implausibility and the cliches in their background relationship really undermines the potential emotion of the film with Cameron taking a shortcut to try and conjure up pathos. Unfortunately, with the implausible introduction of love conquering all and the sickly sweet setup, it winds up being nothing more than eye-roll inducing, predictable, and quite hollow.

That said, while the film has some serious narrative flaws, it is impossible to come away from a James Cameron film unimpressed. The man is a master of action and visuals. For the former, the film opens with the USS Montana going down under mysterious circumstances. Slowing building up the tension with radars going down and the lights going out, Cameron sets the scene for the film's science fiction conclusion, but nonetheless laces it with tension from the very beginning. Is it the Russians? Could they do this? Expertly pacing the moment with strong militaristic writing in the scene, Cameron manages to make the film's first few moments some of the most tense in the whole film while perfectly setting up the rest of the feature and, most importantly, not revealing too many of the film's underlying secrets.
Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
All this user's reviews