25 Years in The Abyss

by Rachel Baker on August 10, 2014

This is a great article about the movie The Abyss and how it isn’t considered a classic, even though James Cameron is the director and most of his stuff saturate our cultural view of classic movies.

Twenty-five years after its release, The Abyss remains an oddity in director James Cameron’s filmography. But the fact that it’s an oddity seems like an oddity. The underwater sci-fi epic, about a team of commercial drillers who stumble upon a deep-sea alien civilization, wasn’t a flop by any means. It made more money than The Terminator and came very close to matching Aliens at the box office. It holds a higher critical rating than Avatar and Titanic (according to the almighty Rotten Tomatoes, at least). And yet it has utterly failed to reach the same levels of cultural saturation as Cameron’s other works.

Part of the reason it hasn’t endured may have to do with the ending of the film. The reviews at the time praised the usual Cameron panache and visual scale (most of The Abyss was filmed in the largest fresh-water filtered tank in the world at the time). Yet critics were almost universal in condemning the overtness of the film’s anti-war themes and its Hands-Across-America finale, in which the aliens spare humanity from a watery end after witnessing Ed Harris’s character send some lovey-dovey text transmissions his to estranged wife and sacrifice himself to disarm a nuclear weapon.

25 Years in The Abyss

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