Aliens of the Deep

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Aliens of the Deep Movie Poster Image
Docu about underwater creatures has stunning visuals.
  • G
  • 2005
  • 100 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids will learn about life on the ocean floor and the connections to outer space.

Positive Messages

Exploration is like a muscle: you have to exercise it to make it stronger. Sometimes you have to look at the floor to find out more about the ceiling.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cameron and many dedicated scientists bring ingenuity and curiosity as they travel to the bottom of the oceans looking for creatures that can survive without sunlight, normally assumed to be a life-sustaining force.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Aliens of the Deep is a 2005 Disney documentary about the efforts of director James Cameron (Titanic) in conjunction with NASA and other scientific organizations to explore the deep oceans looking for life that can survive without sunlight. The ultimate goal is to use the resulting data to determine if life forms can exist in extreme environments in space. Haunting visuals of fantastical creatures may delight younger viewers and anyone interested in exploration.   

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What's the story?

ALIENS OF THE DEEP documents efforts by scientists to explore parts of earth where the sun never shines. The goal is to find life forms that exist without photosynthesis, the light-based process that results in food for animals on earth. Collaborative marine biologists, space science experts, and other researchers discover lots of life 3,100 meters below the surface of the ocean, sustained by chemosynthesis. In a symbiotic relationship, it turns out, sea life feed off bacteria that feed off the sea life. When animals grabbed by an ingenious robot in the deep sea are brought back to the lab, they are subjected to the simulated environment of Jupiter's moon Europa to see if life could also survive there. The submersibles and gadgetry are impressive. The subs that carry Cameron and NASA and other scientists to the ocean's depths roam the waters like space ships. One of Cameron's brothers created a box-like bot that scientists can launch undersea to get into hard-to-reach places for a look through the bot's camera at submerged volcanoes and the bizarre creatures living in the surrounding hot waters.  

Is it any good?

This is an achievement as a film but more impressive is the deep-water exploration itself that the film focuses on. Director James Cameron (Titanic) is an avid explorer, having designed a submersible himself, and in conjunction with National Geographic, he's traveled with the sub 35,000 feet down, deeper than any other human. He has put his energy and funds into helping established scientists at NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and others use information he's gathered to propel our knowledge forward. The story jumps around quite a bit, as it ties in different areas of research and that may present a challenge to younger views trying to follow along, but stunning visuals go a long way toward keeping Aliens of the Deep interesting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how much the scientists in Aliens of the Deep seem to enjoy their work. What subjects can kids study at school to help them become explorers one day?

  • Does anyone in your family want to take part in deep water or space exploration one day? What are some resources to learn more about what scientists are already doing?

  • What's the connection between creatures living without sunlight miles below earth's surface and the possibility of life on other planets?

Movie details

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For kids who love documentaries

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