(out of 5)
Ed Harris leads a team of oceanic miners who spend their days drilling for oil deep below sea level. When a nuclear submarine is destroyed by unknown circumstances near their rig, the army sends down a team of professionals who need the benthic miners’ equipment to help with the investigation. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is excellent as the designer of the rig and Harris’ ex-wife who goes along to make sure nothing gets in the way of her creation’s smooth operation. This film suffered greatly when released in theatres, as Cameron had to cut his original version down by forty minutes to appease distributors; the edited version is a choppy mess of an adventure, but when recently restored to its three hour original running time the film suddenly comes together. Now the exciting action sequences have a lot more character depth to back them up, and the sections with the alien lifeforms living in the ocean have more meaning. Other pluses are the fantastic visual effects which make for the first notable use of computer graphic animation in feature films (the water pod sequence is still breathtaking after all these years) and gorgeous cinematography by Mikael Salomon that truly captures the beauty of the world beneath the sea. The film also marked the first time that dialogue was recorded underwater, thanks to specially designed helmets, and all of the actors perform their death-defying stunts themselves.
Directed by James Cameron
Screenplay by James Cameron
Cinematography by Mikael Salomon
Music by Alan Silvestri
Production Design by Leslie Dilley
Costume Design by Deborah Everton