The Abyss (1989)
Article 5996 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by James Cameron
Featuring Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn
What it is: Underwater thriller
Military forces take over an underwater oil rig to find out the cause of a submarine accident in the vicinity. However, when an intelligent non-terrestrial alien species shows up, it’s up the workers in the oil rig to keep the military from destroying the aliens.
I’m not a big fan of the big budget popcorn movie, but if I had to pick some of my favorites, a few James Cameron movies would make the cut. He knew how to develop his characters to the point where you liked and cared about them, and he was extremely good at creating coherent action sequences. This was one of his more ambitious efforts; it feels something like an underwater cross between CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND and ALIEN, and E.T. – it borrows a bit from each of those movies, and even has a sequence that recalls 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. I don’t quite like it as much as a couple of his earlier films, but it is a worthy effort. It’s a little bit slow out of the gate (the plot doesn’t really get cracking until the aliens show up), and it occasionally falls into a few cliches of the era, but I find these flaws forgiveable.