The Abyss: Special Edition

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Before James Cameron made some movies like “Titanic”, “True Lies” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”, he made a fantastic movie called “The Abyss”. It all starts out innocently enough, a rag tag crew of roughnecks oil drillers (this came before Armageddon, so it’s ok) is sent to investigate a submarine that has been in an accident. Together with a crew of Navy Seals (led by Michael Biehn), they discover the awful truth, which is…everyone on board is dead. Automatically they assume that it is the fault of the Russians (this movie came out a few months before the Berlin Wall came down, hence it’s the “last great cold war movie”) and vice-versa. Tempers flare, and the hurricans above doesn’t help matters any, as communications are cut off. This brings us to what The Abyss is all about…Lindsay (Mary Elizabeth Masterantiono) sees a beautiful lifeform, and it’s assumed that it’s some sort of Russian attack sub. Thinking of country first, the paranoid leader, Lt. Coffey (Biehn) arms a nuclear warhead to attack the supposed Russian intruder, when things go array. The warhead is lost at the bottom of the sea (in the abyss) and Bud (Ed Harris) must deactivate the bomb. I won’t give away the ending, but I must say this is one of the most spectacular movies that I have ever seen. The DVD includes the original theatrical cut as well as Cameron’s expanded edition (which adds more than 30 minutes to the film’s running time). Lost in the Summer of Batman, The Abyss never really took off in theaters, it has found a major audience ever since and was supposed to be one of Fox’s initial releases. We are certainly glad that Fox took the time to prepare unquestionably one of the finest DVD special editions to date. The supplements are numerous and the sound and video are second to none. This is a keeper!

Video: How does it look?

I hesitate to use the word “disappointing”, because it’s not. The picture is letterboxed at 2.35:1, but is not 16:9 enhanced (that’s where the disappointing comes in). Still, as I have said in the past, and will hopefully not have to say in the future…Fox puts out the best-looking non-anamorphic transfers around. This picture is crystal clear, with no artifacting at all. And a majority of the movie, actually about 90% of it is filmed in the murky surroundings of the deep ocean. Nice job!

Audio: How does it sound?

A Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack has been remixed and it is also nothing short of spectacular. Channel seperation is clean and well-rounded, and the whole thing has a depth that really recreates the presence of being in the theater. Even the animated menus sound good!

Supplements: What are the extras?

Ok, where to start…Disc #1 has two versions of the film, one is the theatrical release and the other is the extended director’s cut with commenary. Disc #2 has all the goodies, I’ll list them:

  • Theatrical trailer(s), TV spot(s)
  • Multi-Story Option: Consumer can select original theatrical release (145 min.) or special edition release with 30 minutes of added footage
  • Video Subscripture Version: Viewers can read pop-up captions throughout the film explaning how the special effects were created
  • Documentary: Under pressure: Making The Abyss with cast and crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage
  • Comprehensive film analysis from storyboards and concept art to final release
  • DVD-ROM Features: Access to Screenplay and other bonus footage, plus! Interactive Game play for Titanic Explorer and Alien vs. Predator and even more. Overall, this is one disc that is a must have. I have only had the disc for a few days and am still not done with it. Good job Fox!
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