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"Ghosts of the Abyss" brings James Cameron's voyage to the Titanic to your home theater

September 25, 2012|Elliott Serrano, For RedEye

When I first saw James Cameron's "Ghosts of the Abyss" in 2003, it was at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, in conjunction with a touring Titanic exhibit that told the story of the ship's legendary - and tragic - maiden voyage. I remember sitting in the Omnimax Theater and  marveling at the courage and tenacity shown by Cameron, the group of scientists he accompanied, and the Russian crew that ferried them to the site of the submerged wreck.

Watching the film again - this time at home on the newly released blu-ray disc - brought back the sense of wonder I experienced almost a decade ago. Ghosts of the Abyss is a film that does cry out for the big screen treatment and my big screen HD set did the trick. My guess is that it would be even better in 3D. Alas, this geek is without the wondrous technology that is a 3D television. Anyway, here's my breakdown of the Ghosts of the Abyss 2D Blu-Ray/DVD/3D Disc combo from Disney Home Video:

The Good:

The picture quality is spectacular and takes full advantage of your HD set. Mind you, there are some scenes that are shot in standard definitiion, like when you see Cameron talking about how they're going to rescue a lost camera "bot", or Bill Paxton learning that there are no urinals on the Mir submersibles. (The look on Paxton's face when the Russian pilot gives him the receptacle he is to relieve himself in is priceless.) But the scenes of the Mir submersibles being retrieved from the choppy, Atlantic waters are simply harrowing; and the shots of the decaying Titanic wreck are astonishing.

Now. while not as plentiful as other discs, this one comes with a bunch of behind-the-scenes extras that round out the entire Ghosts of the Abyss narrative. There's footage that was hot by the crew members, as well as a segment on how the events of 9/11 affected the expedition. 

Paxton's interview where he talks about how Cameron got him to come along on the voyage, coupled with his anxiety over getting aboard the Mir craft, really put a human face on the adventure.

The Bad:

NO 3D FOR THIS GEEK! Le sigh.

The Details:

“Ghosts of the Abyss” In Association with WALDEN MEDIA an EARTHSHIP PRODUCTION

For the first time on Disney Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray 2D, see the real story behind Titanic and watch this groundbreaking cinematic achievement in a beautiful new digital restoration!

Academy Award®-winning Director and master storyteller, James Cameron journey’s back to the site of his greatest inspiration – the legendary wreck of the titanic. With a team of the world’s foremost historic and marine experts and friend Bill Paxton, he embarks on an unscripted adventure back to the final grave where nearly 1,500 souls lost their lives almost a century ago. Using state-of-the-art technology developed expressly for this expedition, Cameron and his crew are able to explore virtually all of the wreckage, inside and out, as never-before. With the most advanced 3D photography, moviegoers will experience the ship as if they are part of crew, right inside the dive subs. In this unprecedented motion picture event, made especially for IMAX 3D theatres and specially outfitted 35MM 3D theaters across the country, Cameron and his team bring audiences to sights not seen since the sinking 90 years ago and explore why the landmark vessel – more than any shipwreck – continues to intrigue and fascinate the public.

Talent/Cast:   Academy Award®-winning Director James Cameron (Best Director, Best Picture and Best Film Editing, Titanic, 1997), Bill Paxton (TV’s “Big Love,” Titanic, Apollo 13),

Director/ Producer:  James Cameron
Producers: Chuck Comisky, Gig Rackauskas & Janace Tashjian
Release Date:  September 11, 2012

Release Formats & Suggested Retail Price:  3-Disc Blu-ray (Blu-ray 3D Disc + Blu-ray 2D Disc + DVD) = $44.99 U.S. (original & extended versions) 3D Digital =$25.00 U.S. (original version)
Hi-Def Digital = $15.50 U.S. (extended version)

Bonus Feature:   Reflections from the Deep
Rating:  Rated – G in the U.S. (bonus material not rated)
Feature Run Time: Aspect Ratio:  Approximately 60 minutes (original theatrical version, 90 minutes (extended version) 1.85:1
Audio: Languages/Subtitles:  English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital English & Spanish, French


The Verdict:

Even without a 3D set, Ghosts of the Abyss offers a fun experiece for fans of exploration and science geeks everywhere. The special combo pack includes the Blu-Ray, 3D and DVD discs in one reasonably priced package. But if you're like me, you can skip the 3D set and get the even more affordably priced 2D Blu-Ray.

"Ghosts of the Abyss" Blu-Ray 2D gets a Geek Factor Rating of 3 (out of 4) icebergs.

You can buy the Blu-Ray 3D/2D/DVD combo at your local retailer or on Amazon.com.

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