The Abyss – James and The Giant Nah Cheers

Hi, hello, happy new year! We made it. Nothing exploded or melted at midnight on the 31st (unfortunately?), and we’re seemingly all here for another year of Tr*mp, vaping, beard oil, and all manner of other horror that makes it difficult for me to look at the internet in the morning. On the bright side, the Emoji Movie came out last year, so that’s at least one thing we don’t need to fear. Hopefully you used your time wisely over the festive season. By wisely I mean that you used it to consume meats, cheeses, any fake version of the aforementioned, and enjoyed repeated viewings of Die Hard, as well as ITV showings of teen movies such as the Maze Runner series, facsimile Shrek Kung Fu Panda, twee garbage The Princess Diaries, and Battleship. Despite what you’ve come to know of me, I don’t enjoy any of those things, but I definitely sat and watched them, and a load more cinematic compost, with a baked Camembert, some part baked rolls, and a posh pear M&S chutney. In fact I enjoyed Battleship so little I’m almost sad it’s out of our time frame for a review. The film was 2 and a half hours long and seemed to involve mostly the plot from Independence Day, but written by teenage drama students and located on a boat. Also Rihanna wearing a Hoods tshirt – the hardcore scandal everyone forgot because no one listens to Hoods really anymore, not even in the gym. All this is just proof of what you can get me to shut up and sit through if you offer me a nice cheese. Anyway.

Despite everything that was going on, I did find time in my busy schedule of cold cuts and naps to turn up another corker for your consideration. Like a lot of us, I go back to another place for Christmas. The Midlands. I go to my mother’s house. And what better place to be than Mother’s House for digging out the VHS tapes that she has kept despite having nothing to play them on. Like mother like daughter. Knocking about in the pile of dusty plastic boxes is where I found The Abyss.

Titanic, Terminator 2, Aliens, and Avatar (gross) crossed my screen over Christmas, and suddenly, like a bad hair do you had once and had forgotten about, I thought “The Abyss! That’s James Cameron too!” Yes, Sophie. It is. But here’s what it isn’t; a good film. We forgive James Cameron all his sins based on Aliens and Judgement Day, but we forget that there are going to be four more Avatar films. Four. That, along with this film, are reasons he cannot be trusted.

He doesn’t care about you.

The disclaimer here, is that I thought this film was wank, and that’s what I’m going to write about. I’m only warning you because it’s the new year, and having been terrorised and emotionally riled by the world wide web over the Christmas period, I don’t wish to do the same to you. This emotional generosity and empathy will probably last all of a week, so if you’re a total weirdo and this is your favourite movie of all time or some shit, please leave the room now cos there’s about to be nothing here for you.

Cameo from Dr. Kelso off Scrubs to tell everyone what to do whilst being young.

I really thought I had seen this film. In fact I’m certain I HAVE seen this film as it lived in the 90s video cupboard, but as soon as I put it on, I realised I couldn’t remember anything about it. You think “that’s nice, like watching a film you’ve never seen!” 2 hours and 20 minutes later, I’d be confident in reporting that the reason nothing was ringing a bell was because I’ve obviously removed this massive pile of shite from my memory filing cabinet and burned it in my neurological bins.

The film starts out on a military sub, which is very quickly dispatched by some deep sea mystery that shows up on the sonar as moving at a bazillion knots, or some ridiculous speed that has everyone upset. 80, I think. The submarine and everyone on it gets fucked up, and the only other vessel in the area that the military can get at to check it is populated by a gang of oilers. You know, exactly like in Armageddon. I started to wonder if Michael Bay knows he ripped a lot of this off, but then stopped, because even if he did, you know he doesn’t give a shit. Cue the “this is above my paygrade”, “I just wanna get home to my horse” arguments, and then the big bad navy men offer them 3 times their wages and all of sudden no one has a problem. No one has a problem with investigating a sunken military submarine that they think may have been hit by a Russian missile, full of very probably dead guys.

The crew is populated with exactly the personalities you’d expect from Cameron at this point, but sadly none of them elicited any emotion in me. I assumed at least a few of them would die, and yet I felt no sadness, no investment. I did try not to compare to the likes of our Hicks, Hudson (rest in power), and Vasquez, but you can’t help it. I’m looking at that photo I just posted, and I can’t remember who two of those people are, how they died, or if they were present when the credits rolled. A softie with a pet rat, a man who wears beer slogan shirts and definitely really likes John Denver, a sassy black woman in dungarees with a shaved head, Ed Harris, and then, somehow, his ex wife played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. I can’t stand her mate. Curly hair, peak late 80s/90s, big sloppy jumper, could have been a stand in for Julia Roberts or Meg Ryan or any of them. Neither Ed nor Ex-wife are happy to see each other, and it turns out that (you know, just like in Die Hard), she’s gotten rid of his last name before he’d even had a chance to leave the house. I say she’s somehow there, because I don’t remember how she got there. Same goes for Michael Biehn, a mean navy man who gets the bends and eventually tries to kill everyone before being crushed by pressure in an aquatic hamster ball. He’s just there, with a huge moustache, not talking and being sinister. I must have gone to get a tea when that was explained. I hope he was contractually obliged, because we do like him, don’t we?

Alternate reality Bad Hicks

So down they go to have a look. John Denver doesn’t want to go, but he does anyway, then at the last minute freaks out and decides to hang back cos he’s a salt of the earth pie and chips type who didn’t sign up for seeing dead men being eaten by crabs – fair enough. That’s when he sees what anyone else would assume to be a weird pink jellyfish, freaks out, bashes his own oxygen tank trying to get through a little tunnel, and gives himself oxygen poisoning. Or nitrogen poisoning. One of them. I did once know exactly what the bends was and how it occurred, but even after watching this, I wasn’t reminded. The science here wasn’t important, because the fear didn’t need to be real. We just need the cowboy to conveniently pass out. So for whatever reason, he gets the shakes and does a coma. When they finally get him to come round and he tells them what he saw, no one believes him. Quelle surprise. WHY WOULD THERE BE A JELLYFISH IN THE SEA, WHOEVER HEARD OF SUCH NONSENSE.

Some other stuff happens, and then Ex-wife sees it too. Only this time, it’s a weird liquid tube that mirrors her face when she smiles at it. Ok, so NOW it is an alien, not just a disco ball jellyfish. Everything is going really well, and then Bad Hicks shuts it in a door, presumably making it very angry. Just to reiterate, there are two storylines running alongside one another, of Bad Hicks trying to do everyone in cos he’s got the fizzy deep water brain, and the sea jelly no one can quite believe appearing every now and again for no reason. Neither of them are particularly compelling, and for that reason, everything gets a bit hazy now cos I might have gone to make a bit of toast or played some Panda Pop on my phone.

So let me just talk you through a few scenes which quite literally killed any interest in this movie for me instead:

Firstly, at some point, Ed Harris and Ex-wife get trapped together in a pod rapidly filling with water, and only one helmet between them. Ed takes the helmet, and then because they assume Mary will croak before they get topside, they decide to tell each other how in love they are all of a sudden before she snogs his deep sea divers helmet and drowns in his arms. What follows, is a deeply awkward, weird, aggressive, and unnecessarily long scene where the crew try to revive Ex-wife, to no avail. But that doesn’t stop Ed from continuing CPR and SMASHING HER IN THE FACE CALLING HER A BITCH UNTIL SHE STARTS BREATHING AGAIN. Look guys, I know people do some weird shit when people they love might be dying, but punching them in the mouth and screaming in their face for 10 minutes isn’t one I want to see in a 15 certificate drama that was billed to me like a mild action Cocoon under the sea. Strike one.

Just before he punches her back to life. Cool.

Strike two came in the form of the guy with the pet rat going back for his pet rat when he shouldn’t have gone back for his pet rat, and being squashed by a mini submarine that was being dragged to the deep dark. His rat was in a sandwich bag. Because he interfered, now his rat is going to combust inside the sandwich bag, and he’s dead. If it was a dog, of course I wouldn’t have had a problem with this. But it was a rat you put in a sandwich bag. A man you were supposed to like, and his pet you were supposed to care about, killed off in the most unceremonious fashion. So unceremonious I wasn’t even sure he was definitely dead.

And strike three. Let’s talk about strike three. By this point, I was on the precipice of spitting out my dummy and turning the thing off. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; if you know me, and at this point probably even if you don’t, based on these documented opinions I am firing out into the void at you, you should have some idea – I hold a special place in my heart for a lot of corny, badly made, cheap ass, and downright BAD films. So if I’m thinking about turning something off, it must have really upset me. The only reason I didn’t is because I had been watching it for 2 hours, and it would have been a full on waste of my time if I couldn’t at least write this vitriolic nonsensical rant about it. I watched Battleship. I watched Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. But I didn’t actually want to keep watching this.

Strike fucking three. In order to reverse some catastrophic event that will cause them all to die that I think I must have missed being discussed/happening, Ed Harris has to go down 17,000 feet to do something that will a) kill him, and b) save them. He says his goodbyes, puts on his concrete boots, and off he goes, communicating with them all the time through some deep sea MSN cos he filled his helmet with water. There’s science behind that, but I wasn’t listening. Is that real? Maybe I’ll google it. Anyway, at one point the MSN chat turns to gibberish, which indicates to them that the pressure is making him crackers. But then, all of a sudden, along come the jellyfish aliens you haven’t seen or even fucking thought about for the last hour of the film. Please listen to me when I tell you this – the aliens look exactly like Mr. Burns in that X Files episode of The Simpsons where he gets high as fuck and floats around the corn field glowing with radiation. The Abyss was made in 1989. Post-Aliens, post-Terminator, post-fucking E.T. for god’s sake, and you’re telling me, James, that what you’ve got for us, is a jelly man made of Christmas tree lights. Get the fuck out of my sight.

Who wore it better?

The aliens rescue Ed Harris, everyone waves bye to them, and they disappear back to the weird neon underwater city they appear to inhabit. I breathe a sigh of relief and wonder why the fuck I thought any of this would be a good idea.

Absolute toss kids. Granted, I looked away from the screen a couple of times, so we’ll forgive it any plot holes, because it could be that I just wasn’t listening, but even if we do that, people still went to watch this film in the cinema, and it was directed by the man who gave us the Xenomorph Queen and the T-1000. And it is for that reason that I find this film totally unacceptable and I will never watch it again.

Maybe I’ve upset you. Maybe you really like this film, or maybe you don’t and were just hoping to hear some legitimate reasons why it isn’t good, a more articulate explanation than “this is nonsense garbage”. I didn’t intend for it to end like this, truly. I put time aside to revisit, I even looked forward to it. A nice long film about sea aliens. I love the sea! I love aliens! My mood was good when I loaded up the movie, distractions removed, nice big cup of tea ready. I wasn’t expecting cinematic miracles, I was prepared for 1989 make-up and special effects. I had no unreasonable expectations. But instantly, I hated it. Some feelings are spoken by your gut. And my gut said “fuck these people and this underwater mirror ball”. Then I watched some Christmas episodes of Scrubs.

Electric city or whatever the fuck. Doesn’t matter anyway, because it doesn’t in any way get explored.

If you have a conflicting opinion, I should like to say “please leave it in the comments below”, but actually if you have a conflicting opinion but no way of giving me back the 2 hours and 20 minutes of my life I wasted on this dreck, then I guess just keep it to yourself along with all your other opinions, because unfortunately – new year, same me, and I don’t wanna hear it.

Okay thank you, see you soon.




2 thoughts on “The Abyss – James and The Giant Nah Cheers

  1. Thank you for this – it’s a film I keep thinking I should revisit, but fortunately never got around to (and may well continue to avoid…). Really enjoy your film reviews, especially the video game ones (guilty pleasure – I should probably rewatch Super Mario Bros. for science or something…)

    Have you ever come across Leviathan or DeepStar Six? Somehow they both escaped my radar (sonar?) until this year, as I can tell they were both released around the same time as The Abyss, but with a much higher silly monster quotient…

    Also, I watched Battleship all the way through and I still don’t get it…

  2. Thank you, glad you’re enjoying!
    Yeah, most things, as much as I take them apart, I always hope it makes at least one person revisit. Unfortunately with this, I can’t advise you do that.

    Leviathan I’m aware of, but never watched, DeepStar Six I didn’t have any odea about, but there’s screaming and blood in the trailer, so that’s already a step up from The Abyss.

    I don’t think there’s anything to get.

Comments are closed.