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Ghosts of the Abyss 3D(2003)
James Cameron and Bill Paxton, director and actor of the 1997 film Titanic, travel to the final undersea resting place of the fated ship of dreams.
For more about Ghosts of the Abyss 3D and the Ghosts of the Abyss 3D Blu-ray release, see the Ghosts of the Abyss 3D Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 16, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: James Cameron, Bill Paxton
Narrator: Bill Paxton
Director: James Cameron
» See full cast & crew
Ghosts of the Abyss 3D Blu-ray Review
"The unthinkable can happen, but for our vigilance, humility and compassion."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 16, 2012
The RMS Titanic may lie in a watery grave, but it's by no means a ghost ship. Even 100 years after its sinking, it continues to fascinate, intrigue, and warn the modern world of the grim fate that can befall anything tainted by arrogance and hubris. Its story is both a terrible tragedy and a powerful cautionary tale; its call to historians and scientists in the 21st century both an open invitation and a siren song. Come and see what man has accomplished. Come and see at what great cost. It's a call director James Cameron knows all too well. The record-breaking 1997 Best Picture winner, Titanic, earned $2 billion at the worldwide box office and eleven Oscars, and yet Cameron couldn't walk away from the Titanic. Four years later, in August and September of 2001, the filmmaker who launched an unsinkable blockbuster traveled to the North Atlantic, descended into its icy depths, and explored the remains of the once-mighty ship. What he discovered there was haunting, yes. But what happened above the water, on once-unbreachable soil, was even more so...
There's an argument to be made that the rest of this review constitutes one large spoiler. Proceed with caution.
Cameron doesn't position himself in front of the camera all that often, choosing to rely on old pal Bill Paxton to serve as host and narrator of Ghosts of the Abyss. Paxton is more susceptible to emotion and anxiety than Cameron (who tends to grit his teeth and push inward, at least when on camera), but he's much more of an everyman than the hot-tempered perfectionist in charge of the project, so it serves the documentary well. They're joined by a group of friendly but soft-spoken Russian scientists -- none of whom prove a distraction, but none of whom are all that memorable -- and a pair of deep-sea robots, hilariously dubbed Jake and Elwood, designed to make their way inside of the Titanic so the team can assess the condition of the sunken ship from within. The expedition is packed with highs, lows and every surprise in between, but none are as intense, thrilling and, without warning, shocking as what transpires near the end of the film: Jake and Elwood are nearly lost and recovered in spectacular fashion... on September 11, 2001. Returning to the surface, Cameron and the men aboard the submersibles return victorious, only to learn what happened when two aircraft collided with the Twin Towers that very morning.
Suddenly Ghosts of the Abyss becomes something more than a documentary about the Titanic. Cameron draws a very straight line from the ship at the bottom of the sea to the tragedy of 9/11, and he doesn't have to stretch or resort to cinematic contrivances to do so. Even in 2012, nine years after the documentary's theatrical release, the connection still resonates. And, once again, the Titanic seems to issue the same, chilling warning it has for a century now. Cameron responds in turn, leaving a placard aboard the Titanic: The 1500 souls lost here still speak, reminding us that the unthinkable can happen, but for our vigilance, humility and compassion. But the questions Ghosts of the Abyss asks its audience are even more poignant: will you remember that the unthinkable can happen? Will you respond with vigilance, humility and compassion when it does? Will you heed the warning of a single ship, dead now for 100 years? Or will you ignore the parallels and charge ahead blindly?
If there's a downside to everything as it unfolds it's that the rather poignant end to Ghosts of the Abyss -- which comes as quite the sobering sucker punch -- deflates the awe and wonder of the underwater expedition. I'd even go so far as to say it makes poking around a ship wreck seem positively trivial. Yes, the 9/11 reveal certainly puts things into perspective, but only by name-dropping the date after ramping up the tension and subsequent elation of plucking Jake and Elwood out of the innards of the Titanic. That said, it also lends itself to the organic nature of the documentary. No one expected Jake and Elwood to run into so many problems. No one expected to find glass windows intact. No one expected to find a laced boot almost perfectly preserved in a cabin. No one expected to see deep-sea creatures that hadn't been seen anywhere else on the planet. And yet those are exactly the sort of things Cameron, Paxton and the Russian scientists encounter. September 11th is just one more surprise in the journey, albeit a truly awful one. Ultimately, Ghosts of the Abyss is a strong documentary with an even stronger message. With two cuts, two presentations and one grand discovery after another, it's also well worth watching.
Ghosts of the Abyss 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
Ghosts of the Abyss features a 1080p/MVC-encoded video presentation that's technically sound, with only a few minor issues to report. The nature of the documentary opens the image to a variety of inconsistencies and anomalies, particularly when it comes to the film's submersible and robot-mounted camera footage, but none of it is cause for concern or alarm. Slight, intermittent banding is the most alien oddity beneath the sea; most everything else is a product of the source, nothing more. Noise fluctuates, aliasing graces the now-nine-year old CG ship analysis models, and lower resolution shots are unruly. Colors are accurate, though, skintones are well-saturated (barring a few flushed cheeks), black levels are satisfying, contrast is dialed in nicely, and detail, though generally uneven and unreliable, delivers the goods, especially aboard the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh and during the film's dramatic recreations of the events that occurred on the Titanic's maiden voyage. The 3D experience is quite convincing too, and the shipwreck itself boasts excellent dimensionality as the underwater cameras move past. The interiors are less immersive, but only because the murky water reduces visibility. Viewers whose displays are prone to crosstalk will also encounter some problematic background elements, and aliasing is a touch more prevalent (or perhaps noticeable) in the 3D presentation than its 2D counterpart. Still, Ghosts of the Abyss holds its own -- in 2D and 3D -- and makes it that much easier to explore the Titanic with Cameron and his crew.
Note: the 90-minute extended cut is presented in 2D only. The 60-minute theatrical cut is presented in 2D and 3D.
Ghosts of the Abyss 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track shares a lot in common with its accompanying video presentation. Up top, above the water, it creates an enveloping environment with wide open seas, surging waves, high winds, cramped quarters and plenty of directional prowess. Below the sea it's far more subdued, surrounding the listener with the slow, soothing pulse of the deep and little more. Directional effects are still a factor -- look no further than Jake, Elwood and some of the creatures they find living in the Titanic -- but remarkable they are not. The LFE channel is as passive-aggressive as the rear speakers, not that anyone should expect anything more. Again, the nature of the documentary and the challenges the deep-sea shoot presents are to blame, not Disney's lossless mix. Voices are clean and clear at times, muffled and thin the next. Paxton's narration is perfectly prioritized, his conversations with Russian scientists not so much. It doesn't detract from the experience, of course. If anything, it's authentic, and authenticity goes a long way in Ghosts of the Abyss. Will it fool anyone into believing they've descended to the bottom of the ocean in a small submersible? No. Does it do everything it can with what it has to work with? It does, and I couldn't ask for much more.
Ghosts of the Abyss 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Ghosts of the Abyss 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Ghosts of the Abyss is more than an expedition to explore the RMS Titanic, and much more than it might first appear. Cameron does a fine job of connecting a hundred-year-old tragedy with the events of our times, asking us to heed the warning of a sunken ship once thought to be unsinkable. Disney's Blu-ray release is quite good too thanks to three versions of the film (including a 90-minute extended cut), a proficiently encoded video presentation, a solid 3D experience, a capable DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track and a small but satisfying assortment of special features.
Ghosts of the Abyss: Other Editions
Ghosts of the Abyss 3D Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Ghosts of the Abyss Blu-ray - August 28, 2012
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has officially announced and detailed its upcoming 3D Blu-ray release of James Cameron's Ghosts of the Abyss (2003). The release will be available for purchase online and in stores across the country on September 11th.
• Upcoming Disney Catalog Releases for 2012 (Updated) - June 26, 2012
This year, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment will bring over thirty catalog entries to Blu-ray. The scheduled films span across Disney's different distribution branches, and while the studio has previously hinted at certain titles - such as The Color of Money, ...
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