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Watching Ghosts of the Abyss on the big screen simply took my breath away. The photography was simply majestic, and will leave you in awe. If you are a hard core Titanic buff, you will recognize a little of the footage from another documentary that Cameron did at the same time as Ghosts. The 3-d effect is pretty interesting, but probably a bit overrated. This would have still been a fantastic documentary on the big screen even without the 3-d effect. It does make it very interesting though. They go into parts of the ship never seen before so it was very good. I left wishing it would have lasted about 2 hours longer. Even 90 years later the ship still has the power to take your breath away. I would rate this a 10 for people that truly love the Titanic, but maybe only a 7 for those do not. I left this movie feeling that James Cameron really has a love for the ship and really believes in what he is doing, and not that he just did it to make a buck like some have suggested. A must see for any fan of the Great ship.
If this were James Cameron's slideshow of his ocean vacation, we would all agree he did a great job. Unfortunately, this collection of nice pictures doesn't work well as a film. Moreover, the incredibly high technology that enables remote cameras to drop two miles to the sea floor without imploding is not matched by state-of-the-art 3D imagery. To fit in their sardine cans, the 3D cameras used for this film had to be very, very small, and they had to use extreme wide-angle lenses. The result is that, notwithstanding the IMAX format, the scale ends up feeling small. There are a number of shots of the giant, four-story tall engines that powered the Titanic, still intact at the bottom of the ocean. Amazing! These things should take your breath away. Somehow, they don't in this presentation. You just don't get a feel for their size. Also, the blue/red 3D technology borrowed from the 1950s is not in the same league as the new polarized 3D technology used in, for example, the most recent Space Shuttle IMAX film. Disappointing. Also, Bill Paxton was not the right choice (yes, I get the whole "life imitating art" thing, but he added exactly nothing to this film). Rod Serling's narrations for the Cousteau films were interesting because, well, he was Rod Serling, but also because he had interesting things to say. You didn't hear Rod saying "look at that" or "wow" or "I can't believe we're really here." Finally, a crew member describes seeing an object on the ship that really brings home the humanity of the tragedy. Do we get to see the object (I am not identifying it here so as not to spoil this part of the film)? No. A waste. Now the good: the computer graphics are terrific, the reenactions are good, and the lighting, expert commentary, and photography are engaging enough to remind us of how many souls were lost in the Titanic disaster, the heroism and cowardice along the way, and how terribly sad and unnecessary the loss of life really was. Worth seeing, despite its flaws.
Director James Cameron scored, against all odds (and his swarm of nervous
auditors) a huge success with "Titanic." Not as artistically strong as
several predecessor films about the legendary disaster it rocked the box
office boat as new generations of Titanic enthusiasts and curious folk
flooded the theaters.
Personally fascinated by the tale of the doomed April 1912 maiden voyage of the era's seaborne tribute to Mammon, with its unsolved mysteries - technical and human - Cameron dives to the wreck site in this 3-D stunning documentary, "Ghosts of the Abyss."
RMS Titanic's grave was discovered by Robert Ballard, the foremost maritime archeologist working today. Using the then latest technology he first located the wreck and then filmed it with "Alvin," a submersible of amazing capability. But today ""Alvin" is to underwater exploration and technology what a typewriter is to a PC. Basing his expedition on a Russian research vessel, Cameron takes to the depths and launches "Jake" and "Elwood," two camera-equipped robots that can be guided from the mother ship's two submersibles through the interstices of the sprawling Titanic. These robots can and are guided through spaces no person could maneuver in, even at shallow depths.
Cameron's intense nature masked by good humor comes clearly across as actor Bill Paxton narrates much of the film. Paxton doesn't seem to be acting as he seeks multiple reassurances from the Russian crew man operating the descending sub that there are ways to escape if something goes wrong.
"Jake" and "Elwood" capture scenes from the ship no previous expedition could. At one point the viewer is staring up front at a bathroom mirror with water jug and glass eerily standing exactly where the stateroom's occupant left it before the collision. The grand staircase is gone but its cavernous space is superimposed by scenes from Cameron's feature film, creating an almost scary sense of reality. Period music accompanies the changing scenes which alternate the brief life and long interment of the grand vessel.
This was a scientific expedition with microbiologists on board to assess the continuing and inevitable reduction of RMS Titanic to dust. But the bulk of the film deals with the evidence of life on the ship during its short journey and the story is told with verve.
This is a 3-D film that fully and beautifully exploits the medium and it's a deep sea outing for the whole family.
All that said, is there anything negative about "Ghosts from the Abyss?" There sure is: whatever the cost of 3-D cinematography it's a near crime to limit the end result to a mere 60 minutes!!
As a big Titanic buff I was more than excited about the prospect of seeing
more Titanic footage. I really had this movie built up in my mind and was
so disappointed by it. Much of the film was wasted, in my estimation, of
the process of getting to the Titanic rather than actually seeing it.
when you did have the image of the Titanic on the screen it was obstructed
by two squares of other images......Cameron and Paxton viewing what you
TRYING to see. This was very frustrating to me. The 3D images were
good and that part was the positive side of this film.
In short, I feel James Cameron is more in love with himself than sharing the Titanic with the audience. Next time (and I would guess there would be a next time) PLEASE let the audience see ONLY the Titanic!
Experiencing the ship firsthand and her mysteries, histories, details
respected and moralities still teaching, it's a love, an awe inspiring
and sad tale of Bibilical proportions.
The mystery and history of the Titanic is fascinating and evocative; nearly Biblical. The largest liner, the ignorance to think it could never sink and the arrogance of not putting on enough lifeboats due to aesthetics, I'm just glad in this day and age we have life rafts which take up so much less space we will never run into a shortage of life rafts problem ever again.
Paxton is great as always, and a documentary setting brings out the explorer within, and is respectfully and well made. Learning about the stairway floating out allowing for easier access to the interior of the ship for example I did not know about.
QUESTION: Anyone know why they were not supposed to go into C deck? They seemed to have a very good, albeit unspoken reason for this.
I see nothing wrong with Cameron's love for the Titanic story, it's a near mythical experience and I find it truly a learning experience and a marvel.
Soon the sea will claim the ship utterly, and the Titanic is a teacher of morality, of a past, and the failings of modern man, and the mystery of history in heart of exploration and awe.
The Titanic will always have something to teach us, and that is important.
The museum pieces are important because it allows for the memory to be respected and a teacher to future generations.
That we can put a name to artifacts assures their memory lives on.
There was no disrespect, in fact quite the opposite.
A fascinating blend of present-day remains, and the grandeur of the ill-fated ship on its maiden voyage over 90 years ago. The ghosts refer to the super-imposed figures of that bygone era, who give us a glimpse of what it would have been like to travel on the Titanic back then. With all the effects of 3-D working to their advantage, and the eternal intrigue surrounding the sinking, you are nevertheless left awestruck at the ability of the producers to put this film together from over 12,000 feet below the ocean surface. I found that feeling never left me for the duration of the film, even when I made an involuntary movement to catch a rope thrown at us to more fully exploit to wonders of 3-D. This is undoubtedly an above-average film of this type, and worthy of at least 8/10 from me.
I'm not sure what negative reviewers were expecting; I went in looking for
the very rare high-budget 3D experience and got what I was looking for. I
personally spend most of my television viewing time watching TLC, TDC and
History Channel and I think my interests and tastes mirror Cameron's to a
great degree. For me, it's fascinating and exciting to go down and
penetrate the wreck of the Titanic for the same reason that I will be
eternally fascinated with the Apollo missions to the moon. It's really
exciting to see the previously unseeable. I found watching the scenes
outside and inside the wreck to be as exciting as watching the first
pictures from Mars Pathfinder... a sense of excitement and wonder in seeing
something so remote and so exotic and bizarre.
When I read these reviews I try to find someone who appears to have a similar outlook to myself and then predict if I will like the film or not before I go to see it. My guess is that if you really loved Apollo 13 then you will have a great time watching this movie. You must love science and that frontier spirit to truly enjoy this movie. I think I can say with fair conviction that if you didn't like Apollo 13, you should stay home. There won't be that much here for you. For example, if the fact that the pressure down there is (I just worked it out) is 5482 pounds per square inch doesn't add to the coolness and excitement of watching film from down there, but Jennifer Lopez being on board would, look elsewhere.
If you like 3D, this 3D is as good as I've seen and to be honest I'd love to see this movie again just for the really enjoyable and unique experience of "feeling" right off the bow of the Titanic in 12,462 feet of water.
This is in no way a rehash of the movie Titanic and it has no plot. It has a little funny dialog but it's unscripted. I liked one moment (during the long descent to the bottom):
Bill Paxton: "So, if the motors or battery died, we could get back to the surface by dumping the um.. uh..."
Russian Pilot: "Ve have many options in this situation."
Bill Paxton: "So, we could dump the batteries, though, right, and we'd come up no matter what?"
Russian Pilot: "Yes, but we do not want to do that. This battery costs, I think, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars."
Bill Paxton: "Can I write you a check?"
Nicely done, but no shock and awe here. I can't give it more than a 7 out
of 10 for Paxton's progressively more melodramatic narration and Cameron's
too-heavy reliance on the computer gimmickry, but neither hurt it so much as
to take away the effect of seeing Titanic up close and personal. My only
other complaint was that Cameron somehow managed not to take full advantage
of the IMAX-sized screen. I kept waiting for some soaring shots of the
various sides and parts of the boat, but it seemed like he always had the
camera right up against them where you couldn't get a full measure. I kept
thinking, "Dammit, man, back up." And the CG overlays really did start to
irritate me a bit. I wanted to see the boat, but often as soon as the CG
effects wisped away, it cut to something else. Overall I guess I thought it
a little too cluttered technically and not enough lingering over the human
As for the 3D, I thought it did increase the impact some, more than being a mere novelty, but I agree with Roger Ebert that Ghosts would have been a perfect showcase for Maxivision 48. Someday maybe true film fans will unite....
Rating: **** (out of *****)
James Cameron's journey down undersea into the heart of the Titanic gets the IMAX treatment, with Bill Paxton as the narrator. The words "into the heart of the Titanic" may scare off some people, but don't worry, there's no wooden love story here. Instead, we get a fascinating, well-prepared and detailed documentary about the Titanic and some of its passengers, underlining how many of the ship's elements have stood the passage of time. Unfortunately (in my opinion anyway), it's a little pretentious, not always involving and sometimes self-indulgent. But I still highly recommend it to those really interested in either the history of the Titanic or the 1997 film, and also to general audiences who are looking for something a little more innovative than what we get in cinemas these days.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I did not get to see this in the IMAX theater setting, but at home via VoD. It was not presented in 3D, and it was 4:3 format which kind of annoyed me as my TV is 16:9. I have watched many movies, both fiction, and true to life/documentary about tragedy and historical ironies and such. This one takes the cake. I saw "titanic" in the theater, and i've even seen "a night to remember". Heck, i once saw a movie called "raise the titanic". None of them come close to the raw emotions this documentary will evoke. The one scene that really got me was the final sinking sequence of the stern from "titanic" overlayed with the tragically long series of quaint old photographs, each one representing one, two, a family lost. Even as i think about it now, and even though i know there have been worse losses of life at sea the irony of this story and its place in history make it both unique and quite potent. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who has ever wondered about Titanic and her fate, and the fate of the people she carried into history.
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