Ghosts of the Abyss Blu-ray/3D/DVD Review
We review the spooky yet beautiful and adventurous film now out in 3-D and digitally-restored Blu-ray.
By: Lynn Barker
Director James Cameron got his actor/friend Bill Paxton (Aliens, Titanic, etc.) to go with him on a dive miles down in the North Atlantic to the wreck of the Titanic. Bill was like you and me; excited, fascinated but scared uh…poo-less!
Story Goes: In 2001, Oscar-winning director James Cameron gathered a team of Titanic historians, marine explorers and scientists and, with the help of the Russian crew of the explorer ship Keldysh, he and buddy/actor Bill Paxton prepared to descend in two submersible spheres called Mirs, to explore the wreck of the giant passenger liner whose story Cameron told so well in his movie Titanic.
Cameron and Paxton onboard a Mir submersible
First we see that Paxton is actually brave but terrified to be cooped up in a teeny round submersible for over 12 hours. Will he get sick? How will he pottie? All these questions don’t matter once Paxton and Cameron, who is in another Mir, get to the awesome wreck. Cutting edge technology allows Cameron to film inside the monster ship with two cute camera “bots” named Jake and Elwood after “The Blues Brothers” characters.
Cameron tells us the story of each deck, stateroom and giant ballrooms as “ghosts” are superimposed over what the bots see. You see it as it is now.. light cast through a still beautiful leaded glass window and how the window looked when the ship still floated. Cameron finds famous Molly Brown’s brass bed in her stateroom. The beautiful craftsmanship is astounding.
Drawing of a submersible at the Titanic wreck
At one point, tension builds as one of the bots is almost lost when its “leash” gets caught on debris and Cameron uses the other bot to bump it, saving both of them. When the Mirs finally go back to the surface, they come up in a huge storm with giant waves. It’s a tough rescue as divers try to attach the Mirs to the cranes that can hoist them back onboard the Keldysh. Paxton says he feels like a pair of pants in a drier tossed around inside.. lots of hurling results before the crew and Mirs are safe.
Paxton with bots Jake and Elwood
Courtesy of Walt Disney
At another point, it is Sept. 11th, 2001 and the filmmakers and crew hear about the horrible attack on America. They consider coming home. The Russians are super sympathetic and try to bolster up the grieving Americans. When it is learned that everyone’s family is okay, they decide to stay on site and place a plaque on the wreck that is respectful. Cameron has since returned to explore the wreck dozens of times.
A Mir reaches the famous ship
Special Features: You can watch the original 60 minute theatrical version but I recommend the 90 minute version with more story and exploring! “Reflections From the Deep” features Cameron, Paxton and CGI effects experts explain how ghost images of the passengers and crew were shot then superimposed with computer magic, onto the wreck in the exact places where those people would have walked. Paxton admits how freaked and worried he was about making the dive.. afraid he’d hyperventilate or pass out with a panic attack. The featurette “Zodiac Cowboys” is very exciting as these divers brave very rough waters to get on top of the surfacing Mir submersibles and “ride” them until they can attach a big tether that will allow the little “ships” to be raised onto the deck of the big ship. Looks super dangerous!
Ghosts on deck
You also see the equivalent of a Blooper Reel as the crew and filmmakers act silly and pull pranks. The “Cheese Sandwich Prank” features a crewmember who makes sure that director Cameron, who hates cheese sandwiches, always gets one (with butter.. ewwww) to take down on the dives when the others have turkey or some other more tasty lunch. Cameron can’t figure out why he can’t get a decent sandwich. Funny
Ghosts of the Abyss 3D
Wrapping Up: I don’t have a 3-D TV so I can’t judge that element but the restored Blu-ray is crystal clear. You feel like you are floating over the giant wreck with the team of explorers. Just fascinating. Bill Paxton really represents the average viewer since he is funny, excited and really scared to take the trip to the bottom.
This Blu-ray/DVD/3D set is a great addition to your Titanic experience. The extended version is the one to watch. See the movie first then watch this real adventure to the site of the wreck. It’s like a continuation of the story. This exciting and beautifully-filmed documentary adventure gets 5 stars.
Ghosts of the Abyss Blu-ray: