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Ghosts of the Abyss

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
Ghosts of the Abyss

from Film Forum, 04/17/03

Ghosts of the Abyss is James Cameron's first movie since 1997's Titanic, and the filmmaker is still quite preoccupied with the boat. This time, he forgoes storytelling and acts as tour guide for a 3-D voyage to the magnificent ruins of the ship, accompanied by Bill Paxton, who serves as narrator.

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) says, "Cameron wisely restrains from indulging in the more gimmicky tricks usually associated with 3-D movies. While to many, 3-D conjures up images of 1950s audiences donning goofy glasses and dodging projectiles, Cameron judiciously chooses to let the technology remain in the background, enhancing the viewer's overall sensory experience rather than cashing in on funhouse pranks. The 3-D effect is so seamlessly woven into the narrative that after a short time one is no longer conscious of the novelty and surrenders to the voyeuristic thrill of accompanying the filmmaker under the stormy swells, as he voyages down to the luxury steamer's watery grave."

Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) argues, "Cameron does a good job of keeping us involved in his film and showing us the significance of what we are seeing. A few unscripted and unexpected events even add a touch of drama and some added perspective to the expedition."

Movieguide's critic writes, "Ghosts … is a captivating documentary. The movie emphasizes a moral, heroic point of view, which is clearly James Cameron's point of view. The camerawork and editing make this an extraordinary movie. It has some minor flaws, but it is the type of movie many viewers will want to see again and again."

Holly McClure (Crosswalk) says, "I thought it was a good film and interesting. It just missed the ingredients for me to call it a 'great' documentary. I thought it would be scarier than it was because I was expecting him to put 'ghosts' on the ship but he didn't. So it wasn't."

Mainstream critics debate whether the film is a success or a shipwreck here.