The Disney adventure that takes another close look at the Titanic wreck at the bottom of the ocean includes James Cameron and Bill Paxton returning to the ship for a historic look.
Film making 2.5/5
Bonus Features 1/5
Total 3/5 Stars
Ghosts of the Abyss contains the Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D discs along with a DVD that includes both the theatrical release and the extended edition. Ghosts of the Abyss takes an in depth look at the sinking of the titanic along with the story leading up to it and the wreck as it sits on the ocean floor.
Just to be clear I do not have a 3D capable TV and did not watch the 3D version of the film but I did watch both the Blu-ray and the DVD editions. Both the editions I watched had no aspects that looked like they specifically shot them as 3D like those cheesy jump at the camera shots.
James Cameron and Bill Paxton along with a few hundred others both in support and on board return to the Titanic for a close-up look of the wreck. The crew use both submersible deep sea vessels and remotely operated vehicles to explore the sunken wreck and take high definition video of the remains.
James Cameron first visited the Titanic after the initial discovery by a joint French-American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel and Robert Ballard. Cameron visited the site not only as a personal interest but for the 1997 film Titanic starring Leonard DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
James Cameron onboard the Russian research vessel uses two submersibles and two ROV’s to search the wreck and get some more high definition footage. The resulting film includes a 90 minute extended feature and the original 60 minute theatrical release along with bonus features.
There is more footage of the dives and a look at the historian and biologist along with their thoughts on the wreck and the ship itself in the bonus content. The historian talks about the ships structure and even the reason its watertight bulkheads failed to keep the ship afloat.
The biologist gives a great insight into the creatures now inhabiting and even eating the wreck and a little about them but not enough that it gets too scientific or schoolish. These additions to the film and looks at the wreck from various standpoints really round out the documentary and the bonus features.
The footage not only includes looks at the wreck as they are but Cameron has included actors portraying the victims and survivors added to show the parts of the ship and give a good idea of size and function. Animations of the ship as it was in all its glory is included along with the actors portraying crew and passengers really gives a lot of perspective.
James Cameron uses two specially designed underwater remotely operated vehicles to search and film inside the Titanic and capture unforgettable footage. The two ROV’s are nicknamed Jack and Elwood and are top of the line remote vehicles that are controlled and transfer video through an optical cable tether.
This light and thin optical cable ensures the ROV’s have the most maneuverability and still able to capture and send video underwater but one ROV actually died mid filming. Jake and Elwood costs about a million dollars apiece according to some internet searching so it is no wonder why James Cameron wanted to desperately get his floundering ROV back.
They used Jake to pick up Elwood a day later after Elwood had a fatal battery problem somewhere inside the Titanic but they had problems using Jake as well. While trying to get to Elwood with Jake the optical cable got cut and the emergency routine on the ROV made it float toward the surface.
The fast actions of the operator who snagged the cable and brought the ROV back to the submersible made the difficult job of finding the ROV on the surface unnecessary. The two ROV’s were reunited and repaired to be used for the rest of the documentary thanks to the repair specialists who came along just for this reason.
Ghosts of the Abyss is a great documentary but is not just a simple look at the wreck and its aftermath but involves the feelings and emotion of the researchers as well. One biting moment after James Cameron returns to the ship from a dive happens when Bill Paxton explains about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The crew takes a few days to hear back from relatives who lived in the New York area and until they knew they were safe the expedition was understandably on hold. After some introspection and with their thoughts on those that lost their lives in the terrorist attacks they continue to the filming with a renewed interest.
The 9/11 attacks made everyone filming the documentary to look at the Titanic in a new way and to give a new understanding to the disaster that the passengers and crew faced. The attacks did not change the outlook of the film but actually highlighted why they were producing it and the final project as a whole.
The documentary has a great sound track with very appropriate music filling the background during the filming which makes a great backdrop to the dives. The Dolby Digital DTS-HD Master Audio sound track is fantastic and really adds a lot to the film that really makes it great.
James Cameron with Bill Paxton narrating really adds a lot of feeling and emotion to the film that really makes this a great purchase to put a final ending to the saga of the RMS Titanic. I highly recommend Ghost of the Abyss as a great film and documentary that not only looks at the Titanic but sees the ship as it really was during the fateful voyage.
Ghosts of the Abyss @ Disney