I, Robot/Alien Nation/The Abyss (3 Discs) (Widescreen) product details page

I, Robot/Alien Nation/The Abyss (3 Discs) (Widescreen)

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Turning away from the dystopias of The Terminator (1984) and Aliens (1986), James Cameron marshaled innovative special effects (and a motley crew of oil drillers) to assert that love is the answer in The Abyss (1989). Reportedly inspired by underwater footage of the recently located Titanic wreckage, Cameron decided to transfer his science-fiction-spectacle expertise to the deep sea. Shot underwater in a seven million gallon nuclear reactor tank, this extended yarn about nuclear subs, oil rig divers, and the interpersonal relations between the oddball Deepcore crew, their fearless leader Bud, his prickly almost ex-wife Lindsey, and gung-ho Navy SEALS feels authentically claustrophobic and other-worldly. The seraphic NTIs complete the sub-terrestrial wonder. Praised for its visual splendor and strong performances from Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, if not always for its plot, The Abyss was not quite the blockbuster it needed to be. But the ground-breaking, Oscar-winning special effects -- particularly the exploratory water node -- set the stage for the 1990s' explosion in CGI effects, beginning with Cameron's molten-metal T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). Despite The Abyss's warm message about marital bonds, Cameron and producer-wife Gale Anne Hurd split during production. Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide

A standard-issue cop flick with a sci-fi twist, Alien Nation utilizes the conventions of the genre -- the grizzled, rule-breaking detective, the rookie partner, the deadly new drug infecting the streets, and unfortunately, the black officer who dies in the first ten minutes -- even as it subverts them with a bit of humor and lots of Star Trek-worthy makeup effects. A puffy, weather-beaten James Caan plays straight man to an unrecognizable Mandy Patinkin's eager-to-please alien cop, both actors game enough to spout police force truisms without cracking a smile. Meanwhile, the venerable Terence Stamp, in possibly his only role to feature more makeup than his drag-queen character in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, portrays a "Newcomer" crime lord with elegant aplomb. Like the script's crime flick elements, the science fiction ideas here are mostly third-hand, but for a film that's basically a cross between V and The French Connection, Alien Nation is assembled with considerable finesse. The spacemen-assimilate plotline puts more emphasis on characters than on special effects, which probably kept the budget in line and certainly makes a change from the creatures-and-explosions trappings of many such genre exercises. The script's parallels between outer-space immigrants and their human counterparts may come off a little heavy-handed, but they do give Alien Nation a touch of social relevance. Throw in some strong action scenes, some pretty good gags, and Leslie Bevis as an alien good-time gal, and you've got a sci-fi film that pleases its core audience while giving the general action fan something to enjoy. Brian J. Dillard, All Movie Guide