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Aliens of the Deep (U)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

EVER since James Cameron took a deep sea dive as part of his research for Titanic, the film-maker has developed a fascination for exploration and science.

Indeed, it's been seven years since Cameron delivered a movie like Titanic, preferring instead to put together documentaries inspired by his underwater exploits.

First came Ghosts of the Abyss, his 3D journey to the bottom of the ocean to find the real Titanic, and now comes Aliens of the Deep, his equally impressive 3D Imax outing that explores the idea that the bizarre creatures living in the extreme environments found on the ocean floor might just provide a blueprint for what life is like elsewhere in the universe.

Hence, the film juxtaposes real-life footage of deep sea dives with imagined special effects of what life might look like on other planets in the solar system.

Says Cameron: "These deep-ocean expeditions always seem like space missions to me. So why not combine outer space and inner space?

"Sure w,e'll take marine biologists, but why not take astrobiologists and space researchers? It makes sense, really, because at the bottom of the ocean are the most insane alien life forms that have ever been discovered."

With this in mind, audiences can expect to be enthralled by close-up images of deep-ocean hydrothermal vents, where super-heated, mineral-charged water gives life to some of the strangest animals on Earth, including six-ft-tall worms with blood-red plumes, blind white crabs and a biomass of white shrimp, all competing to find just the right location in the flow of near-boiling water.

What's more, by bringing it to viewers in 3D Imax format, they can virtually feel as if they are face-to-face with this extreme environment.

Where the film falls down slightly is during its latter stages, when the real is overtaken by special effects and a what if scenario.

It is during these latter stages that Cameron gets to indulge his fondness for special effects, yet it gives rise to an unsatisfying finale.

While underwater, Cameron and his crew of astrobiologists give rise to some fascinating theories and some even more impressive footage, even if they are offset by a few too many 'oohs' and 'aahs' in the script.

But once in space, audiences might feel as though they have switched channels to an updated version of Cameron's own film, The Abyss.

It's a case of trying to have one's own cake and eat it and provides a separate talking point that the movie, itself, could well do without.

That said, it rates among the very best Imax experiences and is certain to provide compelling viewing for the science buffs among you.

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