Friday, August 1, 2014
James Cameron's DEEPSEA CHALLENGE 3D (2014)
This review consists of two parts.The first is the original review I wrote after just seeing. The other was written about six weeks later and several weeks before the film was released. I'm doing the review this way to illustrate that there is something that stayed with me about the film weeks after seeing it.
As DEEPSEA CHALLENGE 3D started I thought I was in for a rough time. When the National Geographic presents title gave way to a shot of the earth with a James Cameron voice over about how you can get pictures of any point on earth I groaned audibly. I thought this meant that we were in for a low level TV documentary about deep sea diving. However once the set up was done and the film took off and became a compelling story of a group of men and women trying to do something that had been done only one time before- and that is visit the deepest part of the oceans.
The film is a record of director James Cameron’s attempt to go to the bottom of the ocean. The desire to do so was borne out of the Trieste expedition of the mid 1960’s. The story of two guys going to the bottom of the ocean hung with Cameron and having made a fortune on films like TITANIC and AVATAR Cameron was able put together an expedition to try and duplicate the trip of the Trieste.
What I like about the film is that the film gives a nice over view of deep sea exploration and how that influenced Cameron’s films such as TITANIC and the ABYSS. We also see how success allowed Cameron to be able to switch careers and to actually make trips to the bottom of the ocean that added science and technology to our lives. Cameron maybe a film director but he is that rarest of the rare these days a renaissance man who can change the world in many different ways.
The trick with a film like DEEPSEA CHALLENGE 3D is to make a film with a foregone conclusion compelling. I mean we know Cameron survives the adventure since he is narrating the film. The question is how to make it interesting enough that we want to keep watching. Thankfully directors John Bruno, Ray Quint and Andrew Wright do just that fashioning a great tale that sucks us into what is happening. We get caught up seeing how everything is put together and how the dramas of technical failure make it clear how dangerous this trip will be. Failure is instant death or as Don Walsh, one of the men on the Trieste expedition, tells Cameron "if you hear a bang and have time to think about it you’re okay, so keep going."
Helping things along are the underwater visuals. It’s so wickedly cool to see the creatures that float by that even if the rest of the film had turned out to be a bust (it's not even close)- just seeing the beasties would be enough. The film also has one of the most bone chilling moments of the year when we see some deep sea creatures swam and devour a chicken (trust me if you think about them they will scare you- and you though zombies were scary)
While I was initially not happy with the idea of 3D, I’m so sick of it being used in every film, I realized that seeing things in three dimensions things really did look give a sense of being there. Rarely has any documentary like this really put you in the place with the people involved. And of course seeing the fish and other creatures in 3D was awesome in the truest sense of the word.
I do need to go on record as saying that the clips from Cameron’s films and behind the scenes footage from the films are great and in the case of the Abyss make me wish I could see that in 3D.
This is one to see on the big screen and in 3D- it’s way cool. One of the wonderful surprises of the year.
And now an addendum written several weeks after seeing the film Yes I know doing this is atypical, but this is an atypical film and it's been one that has hung with me when other films have faded (consider I saw 2 other films on the day I saw this and I'm hard pressed to remember what they were):
I can't let this go-You really do want to go see this film.
I saw the film some six weeks ago and I haven't stopped selling the film to friends and family. Here is a film where the the story is as exciting as anything Hollywood has thrown at us. Its a film where the 3D actually works and helps the film put you into the place on screen. I've seen several big Hollywood blockbusters since I saw this and none have had 3D effects that looked as good or were as awe inspiring as this film's simple visuals.
I completely understand that James Cameron is going to wow us with the upcoming AVATAR sequels, but ultimately this film, of a man going and seeing things no one has ever had before is much more magical than any space opera.
See this film and go be wowed.
The film opens August 8th in theaters