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BMZ Review: Ghosts of the Abyss (3D)
By Ross Anthony


Titanic Revisited
Written by: Ross Anthony
Source: Ross Anthony's Hollywood Report Card
Date: April 2003


Category: Reviews

Though the title echoes of an earlier film by Cameron, make no mistake -- this is not a feature film. Rather, this mildly amusing documentary has been made especially for 3D IMAX theatres and specially outfitted 35mm 3-D theaters. Film czar "I'm on top of the world" James Cameron, is, in fact, one of film directors I revere most. "Titanic," "Terminator 2," "True Lies" these are some awesome motion pictures. T2 being one of my favorite films of all time.

That said, "Ghosts of the Abyss" comes nowhere near the thrill and drama of the aforementioned films. It feels like a hobby, a fun trip for Jim who has a justified fascination with Titanic. As he says, "When I first went to Titanic, I was so in awe of just being there that I couldn't really think beyond that.  Having had a few years to think about it I knew that if I ever went back it would be with a specific purpose in mind.  That purpose was to do the most beautiful imaging that we could of the ship, and to do the most thorough investigation of that ship that was possible." (Click here for my interview with James Cameron.)

However, what his expedition finds is much less interesting to me than how he finds it. The tiny submarines, the 6 foot model, the video robots (affectionately named Jake & Elwood) and lighting apparatus -- these are all innovative, curious and fascinating. But an old rusted boat... Well, I could find better things to watch with my theater going buck.

Bill Paxton introduces the picture and then takes us down into the depths along with Jim and crew. Bill's contributions bring a welcome personal touch. His nervousness and nauseousness demonstrate the human element of the dive. And though a small group of specialists are introduced, any further input from them is awkwardly brief.

As for the images inside the wreck -- it's a rusted boat. Maybe if I was actually there in the sub guiding Jake or Elwood with the video joystick, I'd be more amused.

The two most dramatic scenes: 1) A night shot of the submarines surfacing and a diver braving some choppy ocean waves in order to secure them. 2) A climatic reenactment of the ship going down hosting a scrapbook of superimposed passenger images.

In fact, the last moment felt so much like an ending sequence, that the 10 minutes or so following seemed tacked on to a finished piece.

As for the image on the screen? After all, this is digital video tape, not big film that has been the standard for large format. Well, it looked pretty good on the smaller IMAX screen at our presentation. The resolution was not strikingly poor, but the images were not noticeably beautiful either. Jake and Elwood's resolution was poor. Though this is to be expected given the limitations of their mission, theatergoers nonetheless anticipate beautiful images from this format. As for the 3D -- less than impressive as well. Not horrible, just rather bland. I personally was having some ghosting problems; this may have been the result of how those plastic glasses rest on top of my own prescription glasses.

It'd make a pretty good PBS special ... but as a big screener?


Starring Bill Paxton and James Cameron, Ken Marschall, Don Lynch, Charles Pellegrino, Lori Johnston.
Directed by James Cameron.
Produced by James Cameron, Chuck Comisky, Janace Tashjian at Disney (c) 2003.

Copyright (C) 2003. 
Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.  For more reviews visit:

Movie Reviews by Ross Anthony

National Parks Adventure
Journey to Space
Wild Africa
Space Next
Island of Lemurs: Madagascar
Flight of the Butterflies
To The Arctic 3D
Tornado Alley
Born to Be Wild
Sea Rex 3D: Journey to a Prehistoric World
Hubble 3D
Resident Evil: Afterlife: An IMAX 3D Experience
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: The IMAX Experience
Shrek Forever After: An IMAX 3D Experience
Iron Man 2: The IMAX Experience
The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest
Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey
The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D
Arabia 3D
Molecules to the MAX!
Avatar: An IMAX 3D Experience
Van Gogh: Brush With Genius
Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta
Mysteries of the Great Lakes
The Dark Knight: The IMAX Experience
Kung Fu Panda: The IMAX Experience
Shine a Light: The IMAX Experience
Beowulf: An IMAX 3D Experience
Dinosaurs Alive! (3D/2D)
The Alps
Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs
Lions 3D: Roar of the Kalahari
Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure (3D/2D)
Greece: Secrets of the Past
Roving Mars
Wired to Win: Surviving the Tour de France
Wild Safari 3D: A South African Adventure
Mystery of the Nile
Mystic India
Aliens of the Deep (3D)
Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets
Rolling Stones at the Max
Sharks 3D
Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag
The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience
Roar: Lions of the Kalahari
Forces of Nature
Adventures in Animation (3D)
NASCAR: The IMAX Experience (3D/2D)
The Young Black Stallion
To Fly!
Silent Sky
Volcanoes of the Deep Sea
Texas: The Big Picture
Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey
Ocean Wonderland (3D)
India: Kingdom of the Tiger
Straight Up!: Helicopters in Action
Coral Reef Adventure
Bugs! (3D/2D)
Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk
Ghosts of the Abyss (3D)
The Lion King (IMAX/Giant Screen/Large Format Edition)
Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees
Treasure Planet (IMAX/Giant Screen/Large Format Edition)
Star Wars Ep. II, Attack of the Clones: The IMAX Experience
Santa vs. the Snowman (3D/2D)
Alaska: Spirit of the Wild
Africa: The Serengeti
Horses: The Story of Equus
Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa
Australia: Land Beyond Time
Ultimate X
Space Station 3D
Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West
Beauty and the Beast: Special Edition
The Human Body
Blue Planet
China: The Panda Adventure
Ocean Oasis
Lost Worlds: Life in the Balance
Ocean Men: Extreme Dive
Majestic White Horses
Amazing Journeys
Ski to the Max
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure
NSync: Bigger Than Live
Super Speedway
Journey into Amazing Caves
ALL ACCESS: Front row, Backstage, LIVE!
Haunted Castle 3D
T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous (3D)
Wildfire: Feel the Heat
Encounter in the Third Dimension 3D
Mysteries of Egypt
Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Box (3D)
Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man (3D)
Michael Jordan to the Max
Cyberworld (3D)
Adventures in Wild California

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