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BMZ Review: Aliens of the Deep (3D)
By Paula Tagle

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Aliens of the Deep (3D)
Written by: Paula Tagle
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: May 9, 2005

     

Category: Reviews

James Cameron continues his Large Format underwater explorations (previously in his film Ghosts of the Abyss) with his deep-sea documentary Aliens of the Deep, a film that studies hydro-thermal vents and the bizarre creatures living off them.  A masterful storyteller, Cameron examines not only the extreme environment at the ocean's floor, but relates such to musings on the possibility of life on other worlds.  Told with excellent pacing, the film connects deep-sea and space exploration with such uncanny likeness one questions how could it be otherwise?

In a series of deep-ocean dives, Cameron is joined by both marine biologists and NASA researchers to study these vents on the ocean floor.  Deep in the ocean where sunlight cannot penetrate, freezing temperatures combine with beyond-boiling, super-heated water emanating from hydro-thermal vents.  The extreme environment, however, hardly hampers the existence of life around these vents.  Rather they thrive teeming with swarms of white shrimp, biomass of bacteria and almost alien jellyfish and worms.

The 3D aspect of the film works particularly well in these underwater scenes where small krill and sediment float within reach.  However, a difficulty to focus proves frustrating when the cameras are pointed to the scientists within the submersibles.  Luckily, Cameron allows the film to simply revel in the extraordinary images of the strange underwater creatures inhabiting the deep ocean -- a ghostly jellyfish delicately floats along the screen or an almost transparent octopus gently swims using its wing-like fins.

The film travels beyond the deep ocean and into the realm of space whereupon the possibility of extra-terrestrial life emerges.  The film looks to Europa, one of Jupiter's moons and covered in ice, as a hypothetical destination to search for life beyond our planet.  The CGI images of space work profoundly well, revealing the gigantic expanse of the universe.  Here, a particularly riveting sequence of how an outer space exploration would work occurs with a space probe digging deep into the icecaps of Europa.

A truly affecting insight of the film is the notion that life can materialize without sunlight; that, rather than sunlight, water provides the sustaining engine to produce life.  The film then is a nice amalgamation of science and fantasy planting the seed for further exploration of the deep ocean.  Both educational and breathtaking, Aliens of the Deep is a thoughtful documentary that whets the imagination with possibilities.

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