Movie Review by Neil Ryan
Starring: Lewis Abernathy , Dr. Lori Johnston, Don Lynch (II), Ken Marschall, Bill Paxton
Director: James Cameron
GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS may seem a slightly misleading title when I tell you that this hour-long documentary by James Cameron is a spin-off from one of his previous big-screen outings. For, despite the title, this is not related to Cameron’s 1989 ‘there’s something lurking beneath the waves’ OTT-fest THE ABYSS. It’s actually the fact-based spawn of Cameron’s 1997 ‘there’s something lurking above the waves’ OTT-fest TITANIC.
In 2001 Cameron travelled to the North Atlantic (in the company of marine experts, historians, and actor Bill Paxton) equipped with state-of-the-art 3-D camera technology to film the wreck of the Titanic. A pair of three-man submarines, a powerful lighting rig, and two remote controlled robot cameras undertook a series of sorties to explore the sunken liner in greater detail than had ever been previously attempted.
As the sum of its (often slight) parts GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS just about works. It begins like a travelogue with Paxton in amiable Palinesque mode, but he is rapidly absorbed into the ensemble of less interesting boffins. Also, there is very little actual drama other than the loss and subsequent rescue of one of the robot cameras. The use of 3-D photography makes for a reasonable diversionary ploy but a lot of the images are actually quite static – even on the huge IMAX screen. Part of the problem is that the monochrome images of metal, wood, and glass structures encrusted with marine life is actually quite repetitive. Computer generated graphics, multi-layered images, and actors playing ghostly reincarnations of actual crew/passengers are all employed to enliven matters.
If you have a lingering interest in the story of the Titanic, or you have never seen an IMAX 3-D film then GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS is a reasonable option when you next find yourself wandering around London’s South Bank with an hour to kill.