The Abyss ★★★½

At nearly 3 hours long, where this "director's cut" version of The Abyss goes astray for me is its first two-hours of focus on a typical series of cascading technical problems that threaten to condemn the crew to the bottom of the sea, aided and abetted by a literally eye-rolling and teeth-grinding villain. Although the visually appealing aliens pop in and out a few times, the first two acts are so obsessed with macho posturing that the discovery of extraterrestrial life is forgotten for long stretches as guns are pointed, brows drip with sweat, and Harris and Biehn punch attack each other with both fists and machines. The final hour is by far the best stretch in The Abyss; but Cameron's banal twin is always lurking around the corner, ready to wrest the helm just when things seem to be going great, and the very end of The Abyss is a shocking dud.

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