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The Abyss Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! 

By David Chute

Meticulously crafted but also ponderous and predictable, James Cameron's 1989 deep-sea close-encounter epic reaffirms one of the oldest first principles of cinema: everything moves a lot more slowly underwater. Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, as formerly married petroleum engineers who still have some "issues" to work out, are drafted to assist a gung-ho Navy SEAL (Michael Biehn) with a top-secret recovery operation: a nuclear sub has been ambushed and sunk, under mysterious circumstances, in some of the deepest waters on earth, and the petro-techies have the only submersible craft capable of diving down that far. Every image and every performance is painstakingly sharp and detailed (and the computerized water creatures are lovely) but the movie's lumbering pace is ultimately lethal. It's the audience that ends up feeling waterlogged. For a guy who likes guns as much as Cameron (his next film after all, was the body-count masterpiece Terminator 2: Judgment Day), it's interesting that the moral balance here is weighted heavily in favor of the can-do engineers; the military types are end-justifies-the-means amoralists, just like the weasely government bureaucrats in Aliens.

Academy Awards

The Abyss received an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects (John Bruno, Dennis Muren, Hoyt Yeatman, Dennis Skotak. The Abyss also received Academy Awards nominations for Best Achievement in Art Direction (Leslie Dilley - Art Direction, Anne Kuljian - Set Decorator), Best Achievement in Cinematography (Mikael Salomon) and Best Achievement in Sound (Don Bassman, Kevin F. Cleary, Richard Overton, Lee Orloff).


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Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from! (Click here!)Buy this soundtrack from! (Click here!)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: James Cameron

Stars: Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn

Released: August 9, 1989

Availability: DVD VHS CD

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