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The Abyss
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The Abyss

1989
Drama
Sci-fi
2h 20m
When a nuclear submarine mysteriously sinks, one diver (Harris) soon finds himself on an odyssey 25,000 feet below the ocean's surface where he confronts a mysterious force that has the power to change the world or destroy it. (20th Century Fox)
Your probable score
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The Abyss

1989
Drama
Sci-fi
2h 20m
Your probable score
Avg Percentile 57.9% from 5627 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

(5627)
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Rated 13 Feb 2015
85
64th
"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into the abyss, it's probably James Cameron in a mini-sub gazing back at you because he's hiding from Gale Anne Hurd, Kathryn Bigelow and Linda Hamilton down there." - Friedrich Nietzsche
Rated 22 Jun 2020
72
68th
Feels a little bit like a rehash of Alien and the screenplay is definitely tropey. But, man, Cameron directs the hell out of this and creates just the perfect atmosphere. It also had one of the greatest death scenes of all time, only to be ruined by turning it into a revival scene instead of a death scene. Edit: Oh shit, I guess I need to check out the Special Edition instead, which apparently fixes or at least substantially improves upon the bad ending.
Rated 07 Mar 2007
80
95th
Excellent film.
Rated 28 Mar 2012
97
99th
Of all epic films ever this has my favorite love story. I am still moved by every re-watch. Ed Harris is perfect as the lead and the effects are stellar and hold up to perfection, especially the sound. This is still my favorite Cameron film and that says a lot.
Rated 01 Jun 2019
62
22nd
Special edition: Overlong and redundant sci-fi feels cobbled together from spare parts; the crew on the submarine are reminiscent of ALIENS, the finale is a self-important rip-off of 2001/2010; even the major action set piece (the ship's semi-destruction) looks forward to TITANIC. Cameron's usual inane (and here uncomfortably misogynistic) bantering dialogue lands with a thud. Still Harris and Mastrantonio do good work against the odds, and that set piece in the middle is suitably tense.
Rated 19 May 2008
85
89th
An awesome story, good special effects, and serious sci-fi action. This is one of the best sci-fi movies ever made.
Rated 02 Dec 2006
85
91st
Great movie with a simple, admirable message to humanity: Stop being such incredible pricks. Save for a few eye-rollingly bad lines of dialogue, it's very elegantly done.
Rated 22 May 2007
80
67th
Thus began Cameron's obsession with water. Regardless, watch the director's cut; it has a much more powerful ending that changes the film's overall message.
Rated 09 Aug 2007
80
77th
I really wish James Cameron would stick to movies like this.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
77
76th
Great stock characters and a Speilbergian sense of wonder can't quite save the film from its own deux-ex-machina ending. Still, Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio put in excellent performances, and who could forget the excruciating CPR scene?
Rated 14 Aug 2007
90
93rd
A fantastic underwater adventure, but only the uncut version. The cut version is a 0.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
83
71st
This is my favorite Mastrantonio movie. Ed Harris is very good as well. What strikes me about this movie is the sense of wonder it inspires. That and the pink stuff that Ed Harris ends up breathing freaks me out. For the time the CGI was phenominal. Give Cameron credit for another fine movie.
Rated 04 Sep 2013
100
99th
Cameron's debate between nature and militarism has never been so philosophically rewarding since The Abyss. As humanity faces another Soviet Union vs USA international crisis out there, Cameron creates a suffocating sense of wonder through a calm and slow-paced imagery that might be understood as an anti-belicist piece of entertainment -- just like Zemeckis' Contact years later, another highly underrated expedition-to-the-unknown-that-is-actually-bound-to-our-hearts film.
Rated 31 Mar 2008
85
56th
I really liked this movie. Of course, that could be because we watched it in place of another boring lecture in AP Enviro.
Rated 01 Jan 2012
65
50th
Oh, James Cameron you are simply the biggest romantic. Hallelujah and peace on earth, even in the darkest of places. Grinding out plots cooked on the same soup of "humanity dysfunction", or whatever, certainly is your trademark. However: the characters in The Abyss aren't as two-dimensional and lame as in most of your other films (except Titanic). Even evil-caneeval Michael Biehn I was fond of, antagonizing The Great Harris, Ed. It is marginally (sarcasm) too long, though, like all your films.
Rated 10 Aug 2016
5
20th
(Theatrical version) Comparisons to 'Alien' or 'Close Encounters' are inevitable albeit only partially justifiable, as the events aren't nearly as thrilling, nor the characters - save for Bud, Lindsey and Michael Biehn's awesome mustache - compelling enough for me to care about their fates. Although occasionally diverting, this progressively silly vanity project amounts to little more than its derivative premise. And holy shit, that ending is ridiculously cheesy.
Rated 05 Mar 2009
43
12th
Cameron is fine at the heavy-metal action, but his pacing and storyline are abysmal.
Rated 08 Aug 2020
97
83rd
Uses every trick in the book, but I'd say it's a classic epic ocean movie. Early Cameron
Rated 17 Jun 2012
45
23rd
Nice if you like submarine films. Terrible cast and perfunctory script. I know it was 1989, but the alien stuff at the end was just awful.
Rated 13 Apr 2009
65
36th
i really dont like underwater ship dweller movies(disclaimer) but this movie almost got me to care. there were too many of those drawn out moments. spoiler: the girl needs to come back to life via mouth to mouth ed harris is seriously bagging on her chest for at least 5 mins screaming you have the will to live! i get it shes comming back, but at least you get to see a tit while this happens
Rated 22 Feb 2024
70
60th
Sort of like Alien, but underwater. It was fine, but not worth drowning for.
Rated 20 Mar 2010
1
5th
My usual complaint with James Cameron is that he is all 'action', but little substance, he forgets about things like emotion and atmosphere. But after watching this slow moving, sentimental heap of shit I think that I know why he usually sticks to action first, everything else later. Really James, the "evil" Military trick? Really James a heap of electronic jellyfish in Marvin the Martian costumes threatening to make waves?
Rated 21 Dec 2006
80
61st
Michael Biehn makes this movies.
Rated 27 Feb 2007
60
40th
Largely forgettable sci-fi adventure flick set on the bottom of the sea. Has a few nifty effects shots but not much else.
Rated 02 Mar 2007
55
4th
A movie about and underwater mystery. It feels unique, and it keeps the viewers interest for the first 75 percent of the movie, however the end begins to get a little out of hand as far as realism and mere interest.
Rated 13 Oct 2010
79
78th
A masterclass in how to make a gripping high-concept action film with heart. This has great characters (Harris and Mastrantonio are dynamite), superb suspenseful set pieces and excellent pacing (although the runtime is pushing it). Even the effects don't look too shoddy today. (Director's cut)
Rated 22 Mar 2007
100
95th
I actually like the theatrical cut better. So there. :-)
Rated 25 May 2007
94
95th
Fantastic. Inspires exactly the kind of wonder - and terror - that its meant to.
Rated 26 May 2007
80
89th
Classic.
Rated 12 Dec 2019
45
16th
It had some decent moments in the middle, nd the cast were more than capable. Although it kinda felt like Cameron wanted to make five different movies (Alien, Poseidon Adventure, some kinda hostage film, blockbuster adventure film, and then Close Encounters of the Third Kind), and I really wasn’t a fan of the last fifteen minutes. It also had many opportunities for emotional moments but tended to shy away from them unfortunately.
Rated 26 Feb 2024
55
70th
"The Abyss" boasts remarkable underwater cinematography, though its narrative leaves room for improvement. The film features two dramatic death scenes where characters get coaxed back to life as they teeter on the brink of the end, a concept that struck me as excessively dramatic. Despite this, it is worth watching.
Rated 06 Jun 2012
91
95th
An underrated near-masterpiece from Cameron whose heart seems wrapped around the film. Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio deliver strong performances and add a great amount of feeling to this eerie, intriguing, and suspenseful sci-fi plot.
Rated 28 Dec 2010
82
71st
81.625
Rated 23 Jun 2007
89
82nd
Cameron's best overall film.
Rated 05 Jul 2007
93
92nd
A sci fi film, with no real villan. Yet while it may seem a bit long, you still manage to care about the characters.
Rated 12 Jul 2007
95
93rd
A great sci-fi film, with what were groundbreaking special effects at the time. The director's cut has a MUCH better ending than the original theatrical release.
Rated 12 Dec 2019
85
23rd
Made during the time when the world was egging to see a real E.T. but just couldn't. The pace is a bit glacial. My SCORING: 99-96=Great; 95-90=Very good; 89-85=Good; 84-80=So-so; 79-70=Boring; Below 70=Forget it.
Rated 09 Oct 2013
40
44th
Quite watchable but not nearly entertaining enough to justify the three-hour running time of the special edition. The ending came out of nowhere and felt like James Cameron was taking the piss.
Rated 27 Jun 2012
50
16th
Everything's okay until they reach the alien ship, then it gets unbearably stupid. Kinda drawn out and boring.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
70
28th
Ah. James Cameron really should have majored in biology.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
80
25th
A great plot with tight direction, but the dialog falters in some areas. Biehn as the villian and the slowly revealed alien presence makes for a great late 80s sci-fi flick.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
70
79th
Such a great movie, until the bad guy dies & the pace slows to a crawl. Unexplained intriguing, explained stupid.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
70
29th
Good movie, a lil' long. Great in its day with the liquid CG.
Rated 24 Sep 2013
50
36th
The film has its moments but it's pretty much ruined by the sappy fairy tale ending. The story is entertaining enough for the most part but I really didn't care for any of the characters.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
45
35th
The computer graphics were amazing for it's day... and that's all I remember.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
80
76th
If you watch this, you MUST see the extended or director's cut or whatever it's called, otherwise you're wasting your time. I'm giving the actual movie a 62, but with all the footage, it gets an 80. Think about that.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
92
77th
This is pretty good for a three hour movie about under sea light creatures or whatever.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
93
83rd
One of the first great theatre going experiences I can remember. What a movie!
Rated 15 Jul 2020
9
86th
Love the suspense and the acting. Not a lot of eighties movies have held up, but this one from the guy who made Alien holds up well.
Rated 27 May 2014
15
7th
Surprisingly bad, even by Cameron's standards.
Rated 18 Oct 2007
60
0th
Starts as a brilliant action film, deteriorates into a Spielburgesque alien comic romp. Still, Ed Harris & Michael Biehn remain two of the best macho acting stars of the past 25 years & do what they can to elevate what might've been a much better film.
Rated 26 Oct 2007
90
96th
Brilliant movie, original and fresh, fantastic cating, with some great messages and wonderful cinematrography and special effects.
Rated 08 Nov 2007
60
25th
This movie is outdated by now, both sfx-wise and story wise.
Rated 16 Nov 2007
75
81st
i don't generally go for this sort of thing, but this was excellent.
Rated 01 Nov 2016
85
78th
I'm actually pretty (pleasantly) surprised at how well this movie holds up 27 years after its making.
Rated 08 Jan 2014
65
30th
Overhyped movie.. What was the big deal? Crappy acting and pretty boring setting. Only really cool thing about this movie was when Ed Harris (he kept the movie alive) met the aliens. What's up with crazy marines? :P
Rated 08 Feb 2012
51
23rd
I didn't get it the first time I saw it. When I saw it again, I got it, I just didn't like it. Try hitting her some more Ed Harris.
Rated 22 Aug 2010
64
84th
#90s(e)#, story, dir Cameron
Rated 10 Mar 2008
25
19th
Overated, great effects, but long and boring.
Rated 18 Apr 2008
79
51st
I wish I could like this more.
Rated 27 Apr 2008
72
77th
A gripping sci-fi adventure with an interesting plotline and special effects which seem to be years ahead of 1989. Obviously inspired by the new discoveries of the deep, it provided a refreshing idea to a sometimes tired genre. With a tense atmosphere and some good action scenes, it's a very watchable film. My only gripe is that the ending seemed a little rushed and left a lot unexplained, but then again I'm yet to see the Directors Cut version which apparently improves this ending.
Rated 31 Mar 2024
82
90th
Saw the director's cut. How many wars started around the world since this movie came out ? :(
Rated 30 Jan 2012
69
4th
I'm sure part of my poor score is due to seeing it 23 years after it was made - but come on. The writing and acting were awful, and the "theme" was so incredibly heavy-handed. Maybe the special effects used to cover over this, I don't know, but I know I just wasted 3 hours of my life and many, many other movies from this time and older don't make me feel that way. It was bad, and then the last 80 minutes made it a real pisser.
Rated 05 Aug 2010
7
80th
vi quando era pequena com os meus pais na sala de casa.....
Rated 19 Aug 2008
79
55th
From what I remember: Brilliant film marred by the ending. It's terrible that a long bad ending (and this is one long ending!) can ruin a great film. Once Ed Harris starts descending, past the point of normal death and then deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper..."Hey, why isn't he dead yet!?"My friends and I were laughing at it. Cheesy Close Encounters ending. I just remember leaving w/ a bad taste in my mouth but the first third? was truly brilliant and amazing.
Rated 08 Sep 2008
59
68th
The film has too many plots. But the story is fine, the CGI is great and the ending is very beautiful.
Rated 26 Sep 2008
80
84th
with the exception of the (final) ending this is awesome, with a standout performace from Michael Biehn
Rated 28 Sep 2008
80
66th
Very very long Sci-fi but worth a watch
Rated 26 Sep 2016
65
40th
At some point James Cameron is clearly suffering from a pressure induced psychosis and starts throwing moralistic deep-sea space angels in your face. Too bad because the first two hours offer some good claustrophobic sci-fi action.
Rated 06 Nov 2012
82
40th
82.000
Rated 07 Jun 2010
95
90th
directors cut or theatrical an all around great movie
Rated 23 Dec 2008
52
13th
Very uneven film. Mostly an under water thriller but finishes in a fantasy that looks rather fake.
Rated 30 Dec 2008
59
31st
I haven't seen this since I was a kid. My opinion as a kid was that besides the ending the entire movie was boring. I feel that if I watched it again I would appreciate the building of suspense more. It seems like one of those movies.
Rated 15 Jan 2009
80
62nd
Another under appreciated Cameron film that also continued to push CGI in film in it's day.
Rated 23 Jan 2009
78
55th
Okay, but lacking cohesion.
Rated 05 Nov 2012
78
62nd
Probably the film people overlook when they think of James Cameron's filmography, a title this film doesn't really deserve. The Abyss is a great, if overlong, movie which captures feelings of paranoia fantastically, with a well defined set of characters. The special effects work is great, although the latter third of the film has a bit of a tonal shift which doesn't quite gel - but the film as a whole is good enough to overlook this.
Rated 04 Sep 2011
76
81st
The Special Edition is obviously better and it's ending makes much more sense but first hour of movie is actually drop dead boring. It's pretty good sci-fi and alien designs are very cool. But I'm very curios about what James Cameron finds so great about his archetype marines?
Rated 21 May 2010
6
70th
I can see why it didn't penetrate pop culture quite as deeply as Terminator, Aliens, and Avatar, but it's still a really cool movie with a strong sense of mystery and excitement, fascinating aquatic settings, a batshit crazy Michael Biehn, a lovable rat, and excellent pacing in the way it gradually introduces its sci-fi elements, evolving from straight-faced maritime movie in the beginning to full-blown alien insanity at the end.
Rated 08 Mar 2009
71
73rd
Cameron's _Close Encounters_ in the deep. The director's cut is 30 minutes longer than the theatrical version; it's better paced with more substantial character development and it has the original, much better, ending. State-of-the-art morphing FX -- a computer-generated bit of wizardry that's become a bit overused since -- a great cast, and lots of tension and excitement help make this the best sci-fi blockbuster of the late '80s.
Rated 17 Mar 2009
40
71st
For much of the distance, tolerably -- but true to the fashion of the times, overaggressively -- entertaining.
Rated 23 Mar 2009
70
61st
The film is good, but tiring too much. The special effects are great.
Rated 31 Oct 2012
85
32nd
84.500
Rated 22 Apr 2009
71
66th
Reviewing. Director's cut. The first half was darn good movie making. The militant guy was very bad, as a character choise and the actor. There was a lot of emotional attachment towards the end and though the effects were very nice, the message was a bit childishly put out. Extra points for marv underwater camera work. Seen both versions long, long time ago. There was bits in the shorter version I preferred.
Rated 18 May 2009
72
19th
Wonderful underwater shots. Crap Plot. When will hollywood invest in writers?
Rated 10 Jun 2009
71
65th
A crush on Mary E. Mastrantonio was what I was left with after watching this...but it is also very suspensefull.
Rated 10 Jun 2009
37
6th
Great special effects spoiled by a sentimental script.
Rated 21 May 2015
7
49th
"The Abyss's" special effects are fantastic, and it's completely effective in its thrilling scenes of claustrophobic dread, but the Sci-fi elements often act only to distract from what really works--especially in the anticlimactic conclusion.
Rated 23 Mar 2014
55
31st
Snoozefest '89 Wait... the aliens sank the nuclear submarine setting the whole thing in motion. If not for them, there wouldn't have been any threat of nuclear war.
Rated 09 Feb 2011
90
93rd
Claustrophobic, intense, exciting , novel and above all, a really believeable human drama played out by two consummate actors in Harris and Mastrantonio ... the intensity of their scenes together (especially the revival scene) are just amazing to watch. The concept of the story is excellent, and totally unique in my experience. The only reason for a less than perfect score is the fact it rambles a little. But strangely, the longer "directors cut" is far better than the truncated theatre release
Rated 01 Aug 2009
78
80th
Even with some pacing issues, "The Abyss" is a enthralling sci-fi thriller and full of suspense. The Directors Cut is well worth watching.
Rated 22 Aug 2009
91
83rd
This is my second favorite of Cameron's films. Great story and the acting is steller.
Rated 17 Sep 2009
71
62nd
James Cameron gave me an enjoyable ride to the bottom of the ocean in the special edition of The Abyss in which an underwater oil rig crew is tasked to look for survivors in a sunk nuclear submarine. While the film is quite long, and the message at the end lacks all subtlety, having little to do with the film itself, the rest of the movie was filled with clever special effects, a strong story line and an atmosphere that felt cramped and timeless, just as it should be underwater.
Rated 08 Oct 2009
65
9th
When I saw this as a teenager in 1989 the special effects were mind-blowing and the movie (in 70 mm in a huge cinema theatre) was in-fucking-credible. Now, the story was stupid, the actors and characters flat, the special effects look cheap, and the "special extended version" that I saw was asinine in its attempts at philosophically judging humanity. My six year old son thought it was OK but nothing special - he's looking forward to Cameron's Avatar instead...
Rated 29 Mar 2015
64
54th
3.20/5
Rated 29 May 2024
50
24th
I saw this first time in 2024 so the score is based on that. If I had watched it in 1989 it would had been a score of 90. No soubt this was a truly great movie for its time, but hard to watch so many years later
Rated 25 Feb 2011
5
31st
What a confused film. One minute is was all military drama, then it was like a rescue mission, then there were aliens, then there was a de-active the nuclear bomb bit, then it was like Atlantis with aliens...
Rated 18 Dec 2009
73
74th
James Cameron gave me an enjoyable ride to the bottom of the ocean in the special edition of The Abyss in which an underwater oil rig crew is tasked to look for survivors in a sunk nuclear submarine. While the film is quite long, and the message at the end lacks all subtlety, having little to do with the film itself, the rest of the movie was filled with clever special effects, a strong story line and an atmosphere that felt cramped and timeless, just as it should be underwater.
Rated 21 Dec 2009
70
75th
It's really really good up until the end where it turned into children theater.. Other than that, quite a good watch, not a boring second (except the end). I watched the DC by the way, i read that the original ending is a bit different.
Rated 22 Dec 2009
63
33rd
Pretty cheesy but pretty fun.
Rated 07 Jan 2010
70
66th
great suspenseful underwater sci-fi

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