The Abyss 1989

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James Cameron doesn’t have too many films in the ‘overlooked’ file, but his 1989 undersea thriller The Abyss fell short of Terminator/Alien/Avatar numbers at the box office. Cameron’s film features early CGI work in the form of a giant alien tentacle, but otherwise makes the best of an impressively physical production as US seals investigate an alien craft which has trapped a American nuclear submarine under the sea. The production of Cameron’s film was described as an ordeal by some of the participants, and actors Ed Harrison and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio certainly look convincingly stressed throughout, with Michael Biehn suitably twitchy as Hiram Coffey. Despite an awkward ending, Cameron’s gift for hard science, tight situations and high-tech production make The Abyss an enjoyable watch, with a 171 minute director’s cut also available.

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