What movie was that...?

04 February 2010

The Abyss

directed by James Cameron

I realize that I cannot simply bash Mr. James Cameron’s most recent film without paying proper respect to his earlier achievements, and they are major achievements. Along with the genre defining Terminator and Terminator 2 films, Cameron brought Aliens to the world, widely favored above all other Alien films (my heart belongs to the first one. It had me at hello). Aside from those classics, Cameron also made The Abyss, a great film that featured some of the earliest CGI special effects specimens. Ed Harris plays Bud, commissioned by the Feds to send his deep sea rig on a search and recovery mission involving a nuclear sub. Aided by a group of military commandos led by a great Michael Biehn (I’m going to have to notify your CO, Mr. B. That mustache doesn’t look regulation), plus one almost ex-wife in tow (the divorce isn’t final yet, so says Bud), the crew head out to the edge of a massive trench to find out just what the hell happened. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is rock solid as Lindsey, Bud’s near ex and brains of the entire outfit, while Ed Harris is his usual outstanding self as the heart of it. James Cameron favorite Biehn finds his inner nutjob and gets loose as Lt. Coffey, SEAL commando who can’t handle the pressure. While this film has its problems, it makes up for it in heart. Yes, James Cameron is a fan of utilizing aliens and non humans to critique our society’s modern, soulless and exploitative ways, and yes, Cameron is also a huge fan of “regular” folks placed at the mercy of a huge and heartless organization, always far away, and always resulting in catastrophe. In the Terminator films it was Skynet, in Avatar it was the corporation in need of unobtanium, and in Aliens it was simply called “The Company”. No matter how you look at it, however, it’s clear that Cameron knows what he wants, a tale with a moral, some awesome action and, if possible, some sort of mecha-contraption fight.
Note: Check out the unofficial director’s cut of Titanic in which Billy Zane uncrates his mecha-loader and fights Ismay after he finds out Rose has been getting it on avec Jack. After the mecha battle, following orders from a burgeoning corporation involved with stupid names for natural resources, a T-1000 spills through a keyhole and stabs Zane while he drinks a celebratory carton of milk.  Meanwhile, a huge, loin-clothed blue creature emerges from the cargo area and spots the litter from the crate, then sheds one acidic tear that eats through the hull. There was no fucking iceberg!

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