Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Aliens of the Deep|
Actors: Dr. Michael Atkins, Genya Chernaiev, Dr. Jim Childress, Pamela Conrad, David L. Dubois
Director: Steven Quale
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Special Interests, Educational, Documentary
Take a once-in-a-lifetime journey with Academy Award(R)-winning director James Cameron (Best Director, TITANIC, 1997) in ALIENS OF THE DEEP, and make contact with another world. This incredible underwater adventure gives y... more »
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Nice Rare Footage of Lightless World on the Ocean Floor. Lou
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 11/05/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Aliens of the Deep" is the first commercial film to document the mysterious creatures that live at the bottom of Earth's oceans, where no sunlight ever reaches. It was filmed in 2003, as 4 manned deep submersibles made 40 dives in 10 sites in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to get a firsthand look at these sun-less ecosystems thousands of meters below the oceans' surface. "Aliens of the Deep" was released theatrically in 3-D IMAX, which was probably more impressive than the smallish 2-D picture on a DVD. Director James Cameron, exploration enthusiast and a great student of deep sea life, was on one of the submersibles and does some narration, but most of the narration is by other members of the team: astrobiologists, marine biologists, and a marine seismologist. Both the 47-minute theatrical version and an extended 95-minute version of the film are included on the DVD.
The pictures of the ocean floor are great. There are plants, fish, microbes, giant squid, giant tubeworms, and a lot of unidentifiable stuff down there. I was pleased to see the tubeworms, as I have always had trouble envisioning them from descriptions. An entire sun-less ecosystem powered by superheated, toxic fluid emitted from hydrothermal vents is intriguing stuff. But the narration is bad. The enthusiasm of the explorers comes across, but very little else does. They're excited. Very excited. They proclaim everything to be "incredible" with no explanation of why. But they aren't informative. The narrators are scientists of various descriptions, but not experienced deep sea explorers. They seem to just be along for the ride. They're not authorities on the subject by any means. So their narration is ebullient but superficial. Ironically, a sequence that speculates on how we might discover undersea life on Jupiter's moon Europa is more entrancing than the deep sea footage, even though it's not real, because it's something the narrator knows well.
The technology of the submersibles and the conditions inside of them make a great story in themselves. But instead of taking the opportunity to impress us with the realities of exploration, "Aliens of the Deep" says nothing, leaving the audience with the impression that it's easy to putter around on the ocean floor. The description of the deep sea environment is barely even cursory. The narration mentions the heat, but not the pressure against which plumes of smoke blast upwards. The fish have eyes, but do they see? Does infrared light reach that far? Granted, there is limited knowledge of the creatures we see in this film. But I've read accounts of earlier dives, and there is a whole lot more to say about these creatures and their environment than "Aliens of the Deep" would have us believe. This film talks more about the scientists than about the subject. The creatures that live around the hydrothermal vents and the efforts to study them are fascinating, but you wouldn't know it from "Aliens of the Deep"."
Not nearly as much ocean bottom footage as you'd expect
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 03/04/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary is not nearly as good as it should have been. Before I even get to the film, I have to say I have a problem with the title. Yes, I understand that the creatures at the bottom of the ocean (few of which we actually get to see here, incidentally) are so different that they appear "alien," but the denizens of the ocean's depths are about the last creatures on planet Earth I would refer to as alien. I think the title is actually a tip-off to what this documentary really is at its heart: James Cameron's pitch to be the first explorer of the oceans possibly existing on truly alien worlds. This whole thing (and I should note that I'm talking about the 95-minute version) is more about speculations concerning alien worlds than it is about our own ocean's depths. In a sense, the methods and means of studying life miles below the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is akin to the exploration of alien oceans, but Cameron and his gang really stretch the point here. I'm sorry, but a month aboard an ocean vessel is not quite the same as a trip to Mars or the moons of Jupiter, no matter what one young scientist says. Every time we actually get to go back beneath our oceans, the documentary is soon hijacked by hypothetical comparisons to the exploration of alien worlds. By the end, some of that speculation really sounds scripted. I for one hope that bona fide scientists, rather than a rich and daring enthusiast like Cameron and a stable of giggling grad students, oversee those alien missions if and when they take place.
This film simply forgets what it is supposed to be about on several occasions. The scientists who went along for the ride, mostly young people from astrophysical as well as geological and oceanographic disciplines, just aren't that interesting, and they often sound more like tourists than scientists when they travel down to the ocean's depths. Certainly, anyone would be blown away by the sights down there, but statements such as awesome, what is that?, and "Holy pancakes, Batman" just aren't very informative in my book. The film makes another mistake, I believe, by not better identifying the locations of each dive in any way that is meaningful to non-geologists. Unless you are familiar with the names of undersea areas, you won't have much of an inkling where in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans these dives took place. Give Joe Viewer a little more context, if you please.
I think it's rather obvious that most potential viewers want to see strange-looking creatures they've never seen before. You'll see a few early on (including a fish with two front feet), and you'd better revel in it while you can because most of the footage consists of hydrothermal vents and their unique ecosystems. It's fascinating, yes, but all we did in the second half of the film (when we actually found our way back underwater) was jump from one hydrothermal vent to another.
The main problem with this film is the limited amount of time we actually get to spend exploring the ocean's depths. Far too much time is taken up getting to know the explorers and hearing their speculations on life on other planets. I would have to say that less than half of this film's time is spent beneath the waves - I for one wanted much more than that, since that is what the documentary was supposed to be about."
Spectacular undersea footage
Eric Tilenius | San Francisco Bay Area, California, United States | 01/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Veteran film director Jim Cameron (Titanic, Terminator) turns his talents to filming the amazing ecosystem of the deep sea hydrothermal vents. The IMAX footage is unlike any glipse of this amazing universe ever seen! Cameron shares the spotlight with many up-and-coming scientists and explorers, which is great.
My only wish was that there were more details provided about the fantastic (real!) creatures in this film... it's a pure visual treat, and a fantastic glimpse at an amazing world, but perhaps a little shorter on substance that I would have wished. However, there's a companion book I just ordered that I think will help answer questions where this movie leaves off.
All in all, a MUST SEE, especially while it's still on the big IMAX screen!"
Need to see it more than once
Ernest J. Moosa Jr. | Johns Creek, GA USA | 02/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"to capture all of the things that you will see.
I sat down and before I knew it the movie was over. It was so captivating and well done that the time flew by.
The renditions of exploring the moons of Jupiter were the best I have seen, and if more work like this were to be released, NASA would have an easier time securing their funding.
Seeing the superheated vents so deep in the ocean and the life surrounding them was amazing. To see life that exists without photosynthesis makes me believe that being close to a star has less to do with life than we have been willing to admit.