4.3 12
Director: James Cameron

Cast: Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn


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The crew of an experimental, high-tech submersible is called into action to investigate a mysterious nuclear submarine crash. A series of strange encounters leads the crew to suspect the accident was caused by an extraterrestrial craft, and that they may be participating in an encounter with an alien species. However, in order to make contact, they must not only brave…  See more details below


The crew of an experimental, high-tech submersible is called into action to investigate a mysterious nuclear submarine crash. A series of strange encounters leads the crew to suspect the accident was caused by an extraterrestrial craft, and that they may be participating in an encounter with an alien species. However, in order to make contact, they must not only brave the abyss, an exceedingly deep underwater canyon, but also deal with the violent actions of one of their own crew members, an increasingly paranoid Navy SEAL officer. Approved by director James Cameron, The Abyss: Special Edition is an extended director's cut of the 1989 underwater science fiction epic, reinstating nearly a half hour of footage removed from the original release under studio pressure. Much of the restored footage places the film's events in a grander political context, as the crew's mission becomes a factor in the dangerous escalation of nuclear tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The largest change involves the film's ending, which provides further information on the aliens' mission on Earth, bringing the film to closer to Cameron's intention: a modern remake of Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
James Cameron's spectacular underwater adventure, which cost a then-unheard-of $50 million and was dismissed by many as a shipwreck of a movie, has nonetheless been a consistent bestseller on video. This Special Edition, which incorporates 28 minutes of footage excised from the theatrical release, restores the Titanic director's original vision and fills plot holes left by the studio cuts. Ed Harris is an undersea oil-rig engineer hired by the Navy to investigate the mysterious immobilization of a nuclear submarine. His estranged wife and fellow specialist, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, comes along on the mission, as does paranoid naval lieutenant Michael Biehn, whose deteriorating mental health endangers them all. The discovery of alien life-forms underwater adds to the tension, which is further enhanced by Cameron's claustrophobic settings. The restored footage answers most criticisms of this picture, enabling The Abyss to finally take its rightful place among the modern classics of sci-fi movies.
All Movie Guide - 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.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ed Harris Bud Brigman
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio Lindsey Brigman
Michael Biehn Lt. Coffey
Leo Burmeister Catfish De Vries
Todd Graff Alan "Hippy" Carnes
John Bedford Lloyd "Jammer" Willis
Kimberly Scott Lisa "One Night" Standing
J.C. Quinn "Sonny" Dawson
Kidd Brewer Lew Finier
George Robert Klek Wilhite
Chris Murphy Seal Schoenick
Adam Nelson Ensign Monk
Richard Warlock Dwight Perry
Jimmie Ray Weeks Leland McBride
J. Kenneth Campbell DeMarco
Ken Jenkins Gerard Kirkhill
William Wisher Bill Tyler
Joseph C. Nemec Crew Member
Chris Elliott Bendix
Peter Ratray Captain
Michael Beach Barnes
Brad Sullivan Executive
Frank Lloyd Navigator
Phillip Darlington Crew Member
Joe Farago Anchorman

Technical Credits
James Cameron Director,Screenwriter
Scott E. Anderson Special Effects
Clay Boss Stunts
Brett Jones Stunts
Conrad Buff Editor
Michael Cassidy Stunts
Peter Childs Art Director
Russell Christian Art Director
Chris Columbus Screenwriter
Leslie Dilley Production Designer
Deborah Everton Costumes/Costume Designer
Howard Feuer Casting
Gershon Ginsburg Set Decoration/Design
Joel Goodman Editor
Marcia Holley Stunts
Gale Anne Hurd Producer
Loren Janes Stunts
Kathryn Miles Kelly Makeup
David Kirk Special Effects
Anne Kuljian Set Decoration/Design
Joseph C. Nemec Art Director
Alan Oliney Stunts
Billy Oliver Stunts
Robert Olmstead Special Effects
Lee Orloff Musical Direction/Supervision
Denney Pierce Stunts
Andrew Precht Set Decoration/Design
Patrick Romano Stunts
Kerry Rossall Stunts
Mikael Salomon Cinematographer
Alan Silvestri Score Composer
Dennis Skotak Cinematographer
Charles Skouras Production Designer,Production Manager
Howard E. Smith Editor
Joe Unsinn Special Effects
Roberto Viskin Special Effects
Richard Warlock Stunts
Gene Warren Special Effects
Richard Washington Stunts
Thomas D. Wilkins Set Decoration/Design
Matthew Yuricich Special Effects

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The Abyss 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jacks_Back More than 1 year ago
Outstanding performance by Ed Harris complemented by great visuals and special effects. Script and acting provide a believable and upbeat scenario to the First Contact theme. Shows the good and bad aspects of humanity confronting the unknown - altruism and fear, trust and suspicion. Definitely a great addition to any DVD collection.
JCWilkerson More than 1 year ago
When a nuclear sub goes down in the Pacific Ocean unexpectedly and a hurricane prevents the military from being able to send a team in after it, they subcontract an underwater oil rig team drilling near the area led by Bud Brigman (Ed Harris). To assist the rig team, the military sends in a group of Navy SEALs led by Lt. Coffey (Michael Biehn) accompanied with the underwater oil rig's designer and Bud's on again off again wife Lindsey Brigman (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). But as they search the nuclear sub, they realize that there might be more to the sinking of the sub than they thought, and while Lt. Coffey believes the Russians to be responsible, the rig crew believes there might be something more... supernatural involved. There are few directors that truly know how to top themselves with each endeavor the way that James Cameron does. His first movie, The Terminator set a precedent for action movies in the 80's, and he only topped that achievement with Terminator 2. With Aliens he made a movie that was at the very least equal to Ridley Scott's Alien by making a sequel that changed the mood and style while still respecting the original. In 1989 James Cameron directed The Abyss, a film that took place mainly underwater, and was filmed in the largest underwater set at the time. The set, built in a half finished nuclear reactor facility, included 7 million gallons of water. So among Cameron's other achievements, how does The Abyss stand up? The Abyss is definitely Cameron's most underrated film. Looking at movies like Avatar, Aliens, The Terminator, and Terminator 2 it's easy to see how a movie like The Abyss can be forgotten, but on closer inspection The Abyss fits right along side the others. Like Cameron's other films, he shows great attention to detail, with amazing special effects. On a technical scale, the movie feels like real life, something that's always great when it comes to a Cameron film. But also like Cameron's other films, it's not about the special effects but rather about the human element. Cameron does a great job of humanizing his characters and fleshing out their relationships. The acting if phenomenal, of course I wouldn't expect anything less from a movie that includes Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens) and Ed Harris (The Truman Show, The Rock). Biehn does great as a military man who's lost communication with the outside world and has to make calls on his own about their next move, and it's driving him insane. Ed Harris is great as the hard ass rig leader who pines for his ex-wife who keeps running off on different jobs without him, and Marry Elizabeth Mastrantonio is great as the aforementioned wife who finds being stuck with Bud and his crew repulsive, but grows close to the husband she had left behind and the crew he manages. If you haven't seen this movie, but you like Cameron's other flicks, I highly recommend you give this shot. I would argue that this movie is possibly even better than The Terminator, and since I think Aliens is better than The Terminator, I find this to be right on par with Aliens. Give it a shot, this is definitely a sleeper classic that deserves more exposure than it's gotten.
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