Published Apr 01, 2003Sitting down to watch a 3-D movie in 2003 is an odd experience. You just know the technology has progressed beyond those blue/red glasses from back in the day but to what extent? Leave it to James Cameron to re-invent the format to such an extent that there's no way Ghosts of the Abyss will ever be compared to one of those cheesy '50s 3-D flicks.
Running around an hour, which is the maximum for an IMAX film the film would've no doubt been a lot longer if Cameron had the choice Ghosts of the Abyss essentially documents an expedition to the site of the Titanic's wreckage. As the camera wanders throughout the ship, Cameron inserts much-needed recreations of each section (either using computer graphics or actual actors) so that we're never confused as to what we're looking at.
Though Ghosts of the Abyss is tremendously entertaining, Cameron does have a tendency to talk down to the audience. He simplifies things to such an extent that even small children will have no problem following the action, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Cameron couldn't have done anything other than what he did with the film; this is a subject that should've been completely unfilmable. Sending cameras into the murky depths of the Atlantic to check out a ship that sank years ago doesn't exactly make for a visually arresting experience. But Cameron ensures that we're always aware of what we're looking at (through the computer-generated walkthroughs and Paxton's gee-whiz narration), to such an extent that anyone who has even a basic knowledge of the ship will find this to be a pedestrian documentary.
Still, there's no denying that the film is always completely compelling, if only on a purely visceral level. Make sure you catch it while it's playing on an IMAX screen. Watching it in 2-D, at home, there's a high likelihood that Ghosts of the Abyss will play like a standard Discovery channel documentary. (Disney/Buena Vista)