Aliens of the Deep

on January 28, 2005 by Bridget Byrne
The 3-D photography and the sharpness of the high-definition images in "Aliens of the Deep" are so compelling on the IMAX screen that it's hard to image that it would be any more awe-inspiring to actually be in one of the submersibles two-and-a-half miles down in the sea, cut off from all sunlight, viewing the teeming life that thrives in the hydrothermal vents of the ocean's floor. Maybe it is even more thrilling first-hand, judging from the glee beaming from the faces of the knowledgeable, attractive oceanographers and space scientists who accompany Cameron and his crew on this exploration of the depths our world, but for the rest of us this documentary certainly works as a vivid, lifelike trip, engendering a real "wow" reaction.

Cameron's grand adventure is not just to satisfy his own curiosity about the hidden powers of the ocean, but to help scientists in their research and quest for possible life in outer space--the theory being that if life can flourish here without the aid of the solar energy that had been long considered essential, then the possibility exists that subterranean seas on other planets may contain 'alien' life-forms as stunning as our own pale and ghostly sea creatures which, through the power of these filmmakers' innovative techniques, seem almost within our grasp.

Inevitably, because the movie is made for family audiences and has only a brief running time, such theories are expressed simplistically, and some space images come off as rather hokey. But when the cameras focus on the weird geography and strange beings of the ocean depths and on the expressive reactions of those observing it all through the walls of their vessels, they capture a wonder you feel privileged to behold. Directed by James Cameron and Steven Quale. Produced by James Cameron and Andrew Wright. A Buena Vista release. Large-format/3-D documentary. Rated G. Running time: 45 min

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