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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The U.S. military (in particular, an all-white group of overconfident Navy SEALS) are more or less the villains here, arrogant and paranoid and fixated on weaponry and Cold-War destruction. The filmmakers' sympathies are with the (ethnically and sexually mixed) working-class oil-rig crew, shown as more sensible and concerned for each other's safety and well-being. The main characters are a feuding couple in the process of divorce, with lots of marital sniping woven into the adventure; the wife in particular is accused of being more interested in career advancement.
Violence & Scariness
Blood shed in hand-to-hand combat and near-strangulation. Freshly-drowned bodies shown. A knife and a gun brandished. A montage of real-life atrocity footage from Vietnam, the Holocaust, and other infamies. A psycho character slashes his arm in a masochistic "cutting" ritual.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Quick glimpse of bare breasts as a female character in cardiac arrest is defibrillated.
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"Damn," "hell," "dick," "SOB," and "s--t," all several time; "goddamn"/"oh my God"; the heroine referred to as a "bitch" more than once.
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Products & Purchases
Somehow a Coca-Cola machine found its way on board the base.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there's a fair amount of salty language in this ocean thriller. The camera exposes bare breasts in a medical-emergency context. Violent acts include death by drowning, hand-to-hand combat, and a threat of nuclear annihilation. Young viewers with fears of the water and/or claustrophobia might be uncomfortable with vivid portrayals of drowning and submersible environments. A scene -- not faked -- in which a domesticated rat is immersed in breathable liquid is a real don't-try-this-with-the-family-pet-at-home moment. The US military doesn't come off looking particularly good. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Lots of orchestral crescendos and awesome visuals in this huge-scale underwater epic. The film was so highly touted in its production phase that rival Hollywood studios had time to get lookalike (and inferior) marine sci-fi flicks (Deep Star Six and Leviathan, if you had to ask) already in theaters by the time perfectionist director James Cameron released THE ABYSS. Even then, Cameron was less than satisfied, and in DVD and VHS you can find both the original Abyss and a "special edition" that attempted to better blend the alien-first-contact story into the plot. Even so, it mixes like the proverbial oil and water. Cameron's realization of the characters' high-tech, deep-sea survival ordeal is so fascinating (and excruciatingly suspenseful) in its own right that the sci-fi element seems intrusive -- a Close Encounter of the Rather Unnecessary Kind.
Younger viewers who can even tolerate the likes of Jar Jar Binks will be more accepting of the aliens. James Cameron later dispensed with the UFO stuff to offer a vivid documentary nature feature Aliens of the Deep.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate