Director James Cameron is just a teensy bit obsessed with the Titanic. The guy put multiple years of his life into making his billion-dollar blockbuster about the legendary wreck. After the credits rolled and he collected his Oscars (including ones for Best Picture and Best Director), he was far from finished with the topic. So he did what any filthy rich director would do: he took a film crew and friend/actor Bill Paxton under the sea for a better peek at the ship's actual wreckage.
Ghosts of the Abyss 3D chronicles that journey, in 3D (hence, the title). However, the experience isn't really about Cameron getting in touch with his inspiration, but more about Paxton. He narrates and is the film's main character -- besides the ship, of course.
Viewers get to see Paxton board the ship, talk to the crew, contemplate a deep-sea death, and reach for his puke bag. It all seems worth the worry, though, for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get up close and personal with a piece of history.
Disney's 3-disc combo pack features 2D and 3D versions of the film, which have a lot of similarities. All of the action on the boat looks pretty wonderful, with great colors and detail. Having 3D effects on this release really puts you in the middle of the journey. You feel like you are getting your hands on those pricey gizmos and are part of the discussions, the dinners, and even the shirtless volleyball games. Once the action goes under, however, things just get sort of murky in both dimensions. No matter what The Little Mermaid has taught us, the world just isn't a pretty place 12,000 feet under. Don't expect to swim through the porthole and walk down what used to be the staircase of the Titanic. Most of the underwater action was recorded by two tiny remote-controlled cameras, also known as Jake and Elwood. It's hard to expect good video from those robotic cameras or down that deep. Those are the best parts of the film, though, which makes the 3D kind of pointless.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track isn't as immersive as one would expect, but it's no slouch, either. All of the dialogue is clear and centered and on the ship, there are ocean sounds and other day-to-day operations to make you feel like you're there. I expected a bit more of a claustrophobic feeling from the underwater scenes, but instead the surrounds are mostly used for the film's soundtrack.
This 3-disc set includes the 3D Blu-ray, a 2D Blu-ray and a standard-def DVD. The 3D disc has the theatrical version of the movie, while the 2D Blu-ray adds in the "extended" version, which has an extra 30 minutes of footage.
If you're looking for a little more about the production, there's 29 minutes' worth of outtakes under one heading known as "Reflections from the Deep." This includes bonus footage, behind-the-scenes tidbits, and interviews with James Cameron, Bill Paxton, and the rest of the crew. Other than that, there's a snippet called "The Cheese Sandwich Prank," which explains why Cameron eats so many cheese sandwiches during the dive process.
Fans of the film Titanic will love this in-depth peek at the real-life wreckage. However, even if you don't love the movie so much, Ghosts of the Abyss 3D is still a must-see, for the history lesson alone. The 3D is nice if you're interested in taking a little boat ride, but it's not going to put you any closer to the RMS Titanic's remains. Think about popping in that 2D Blu-ray, if only to get the extra minutes of this interesting documentary.
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