The Abyss (1989) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Abyss (1989)



Critic Consensus: The utterly gorgeous special effects frequently overshadow the fact that The Abyss is also a totally gripping, claustrophobic thriller, complete with an interesting crew of characters.

Movie Info

The crew of an experimental, high-tech submersible is called into action to investigate a mysterious nuclear submarine crash. A series of strange encounters leads the crew to suspect the accident was caused by an extraterrestrial craft, and that they may be participating in an encounter with an alien species. However, in order to make contact, they must not only brave the abyss, an exceedingly deep underwater canyon, but also deal with the violent actions of one of their own crew members, an increasingly paranoid Navy SEAL officer. Approved by director James Cameron, The Abyss: Special Edition is an extended director's cut of the 1989 underwater science fiction epic, reinstating nearly a half hour of footage removed from the original release under studio pressure. Much of the restored footage places the film's events in a grander political context, as the crew's mission becomes a factor in the dangerous escalation of nuclear tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The largest change involves the film's ending, which provides further information on the aliens' mission on Earth, bringing the film to closer to Cameron's intention: a modern remake of Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovimore
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: James Cameron, Chris Columbus
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 7, 2000
20th Century Fox Film Corporat


Ed Harris
as Bud Brigman
Michael Biehn
as Lt. Coffey
Leo Burmester
as Catfish De Vries
Leo Burmeister
as Catfish De Vries
Todd Graff
as Alan `Hippy' Carnes
John Bedford Lloyd
as Jammer Willis
J.C. Quinn
as `Sonny' Dawson
Kimberly Scott
as Lisa Standing
Chris Murphy
as Seal Schoenick
Christopher Murphy
as Seal Schoenick
Adam Nelson
as Ensign Monk
Richard Warlock
as Dwight Perry
Jimmie Ray Weeks
as Leland McBride
Ken Jenkins
as Gerard Kirkhill
Peter Ratray
as Captain
Brad Sullivan
as Executive
Frank Lloyd
as Navigator
Joe Farago
as Anchorman
William Wisher
as Bill Tyler
Joseph C. Nemec III
as Crew Member, Crew Me...
Phillip Darlington
as Crew Members
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Abyss

Critic Reviews for The Abyss

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (8)

Colossally ambitious, this logistically boggling and technically brilliant film from writer-director James Cameron is a visual tour de force, featuring overall, the greatest underwater sequences ever seen on film.

Full Review… | March 10, 2015
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

A firstrate underwater suspenser with an otherworldly twist, The Abyss suffers from a payoff unworthy of its buildup.

Full Review… | June 19, 2008
Top Critic

The attempt to extract the essences of several genres (cold-war submarine thriller, love story, Disney fantasy, pseudomystical SF in the Spielberg mode) and mix them together ultimately leads to giddy incoherence.

Full Review… | June 6, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

This overlong concoction is scuppered by dire dialogue, histrionic performances and maudlin sentimentality.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Anyone looking for a discouraging word about this stupendously exciting and emotionally engulfing film should read no further. The Abyss confirms James Cameron as a world-class filmmaker.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

The Abyss gains in some ways from its own Achilles heels, in a way most movies don't... its formal technique, its reckless obsessiveness, and its gutsy emotionalism are what I can't stop turning over in my mind.

Full Review… | August 4, 2010
Nick's Flick Picks

Audience Reviews for The Abyss


What makes this film even more absorbing than its spellbinding visual effects is the strong sense of urgency and danger created in such a suffocating underwater scenario, and the special edition is also more meaningful in times of so much war and mindless destruction.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer

After the phenomenal action classic, Terminator, James Cameron pushed the boundaries yet again with astounding special effects with The Abyss. This is a special effects milestone that helped advance the use of CGI in film. The result is a very good looking film that has breath taking special effects. Cameron has always been keen on delivering a visual spectacle with his films and The Abyss definitely emphasizes that. In terms of special effects, The Abyss delivers some astounding effects. Where the film lacks slightly is in the story, the plot starts off well enough, but it ends somewhat on a dismal note. The film has an impressive cast of talented actors that are able to carry the film well enough to make it watchable, but halfway through the film; the story looses its fire and becomes a little silly. Of course that's a minor speed bump as you're more focused on the astounding visuals. The visuals are what really makes this film watchable, and this one of the films that James Cameron has made. The cast do a fine job with the script, and luckily the story manages to work for more than half of the film, but like I stated, it loses its fire slightly and some elements feel out of place. This is still a worthy film to watch despite its small flaws. There are more great things going for this film than bad things. Cameron crafted a fine special effects wonder that remains one of the best he's ever done.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer

The Abyss is one of the Wonderful and Beautiful Alien Movies I have ever seen. I liked the Idea Aliens Underwater.

Wahida K

Super Reviewer

The Abyss Quotes

– Submitted by Zaenal A (3 years ago)

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