Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monday Movies - The Abyss

OK, y'all, on of my top ten favorite movies is "The Abyss".

A US sumbarine encounters an underwater alien life form (dubbed NTI's or non-terrestrial intelligence by the rig crew) which wreaks havoc with their electronics and causes it to crash. Russian subs are honing in on it, hoping to steal the secrets. The US Navy would rather not have that happen and are looking for quick ways to beat the Russians to the sub.

Bud and his buddies run an underwater oil platform. The oil company is informed that they WILL co-operate with the US Navy. (Is it just being a mom that makes me hear, "And you WILL NOT watch tv until your room is cleaned?") Descending with the Navy SEALS is Lindsey, Bud's estranged wife.

Oh, goody. *LOL*

Being so far underwater, with all the surrounding pressure, can make people jittery under the best of times, but the commander of the SEALS is apparently more than usually susceptible to the "High Pressure Nervous Syndrome" and gets ultra paranoid. The SEALS and the crew go to the downed sub and retrieve several things that the US would like to keep out of enemy hands, and a nuclear missile.

At one point, the NTI, which is able to mold water, comes up through the rig's moon pool to explore, presumably because they've seen these two-legged upright creatures running around their back yard pool (ok, just kidding) and wonder who let the kids out. It makes the hosts somewhat nervous, except for Lindsey, who thinks they're kind of cute.

She sticks her finger into the dinosaur-neck style configuration of water and tastes it. Sea water. Then she smiles ... and the water makes a clear copy of her face, that smiles back! It's not as hokey as it sounds ... my words are failing me in description of the scene.

Remember the newly unbalanced SEAL commander? He decides the water NTI is up to no good and shuts the door on it ... literally, causing the Linsdey-reflection and the rest of the water on that side of the door to fall to the ground. The rest of the water beats a hasty retreat through the moon pool to blend in with the rest of the sea.

The SEAL commander decides this NTI must be destroyed and takes the nuclear weapon in a submersible down into the trench to destroy the aliens. Bud and Lindsey go out after him. While the commander's submersible is pushed over the edge and is crushed by the water pressure, the estranged husband and wife get caught on the edge of the trench, unable to move, and taking on water ... fast.

The only hope of survival for them is to swim back to the rig, but there is only one suit. One suit to keep them warm in the sea water and one source of oxygen. So Lindsey tells Bud, the stronger swimmer to wear the suit let her drown, drag her back and with bodily functions slowed by hypothermia, resuscitate her once they get back to the rig. Crazy ... maybe. Did it work? Yes.

But the nuke is still at the bottom of the trench. They decide someone has to go down and disarm the thing, and Bud, of course, volunteers. But since the SEAL commander was crushed by water pressure when he was in a machine ... how can Bud survive? Apparently there is a liquid that he could breathe (a nice little toy the Navy brought along) that would allow his lungs not to collapse.

Once he gets to the bottom, Bud is supposed to disarm the missile. But the light sticks he has makes it impossible to figure out which wire is which color. And the pressure, while not lethal, is certainly not doing anything good for his central nervous system. It's been a while, but I think he guesses...correctly, of course.

Well, there is not enough oxygen in the tank to get him back up to the rig, so he types in his armband keyboard that he knew it was a one-way trip and (talking to Lindsey) said, "Love you wife".

But remember, he wasn't alone down there. A couple NTI's come around to see who Bud is and what he's up to. As Bud loses consciousness, he is whisked through the NTI's territory until he comes to an area where the water is "pulled back" (think like the parting of the Red Sea in the Ten Commandments), and he is able to take off his helmet, spew the liquid out of his lungs and breathe normally. He looks at the aliens, smiles, gives a little tentative wave, and says, "Hi."

The NTI's show like a movie of man's destruction of himself, each other, and the planet, mostly via wars and nuclear means. Bud asks, "Then why did you save me?" The movie changes to a shot of his armband keyboard and the words "Love you, wife" showing up.

Switch back to the rig, where Lindsey and the crew are in mourning for Bud. All of a sudden, there is his message, coming back at them. Bud's typing has improved (since coming into contact with the NTI's) and he tells his wife and friends, "Hang on. You're gonna love this."

The alien "ship" (for lack of a better word, and if you've seen the movie you know what I mean) rises up underneath the rig, lifting it to the surface. It also lifts up the ship that was hovering on top of the ocean over the rig, making it look like a little Matchbox bus. The crew of the rig are able to drop out of it, onto the surface of the "ship" and walk around ... without suffering any ill effects from not decompressing properly.

Lindsey and Bud are reunited.

The movie basically ends there. I've always wondered what happened afterwards. Did the Navy debrief everyone about the NTI craft and the "contact". Would they have believed them? Or would they have reserved an all-expense vacation for life for the whole lot of oil company employees and SEALS at the padded-wall Hilton?


The underwater scenes were absolutely stunning, which is a credit to the movie's makers because most of the scenes were filmed in a 7 million gallon tank at a nuclear power plant near South Carolina. The story appealed to me, and I watch it nearly every time it comes on satellite, even though I've seen it many, MANY times before.


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