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JAMES CAMERON'S DEEPSEA CHALLENGE
3D Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars: James Cameron
Directors: John Bruno, Ray Quint, Andrew Wright
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.77:1
Studio: First Look
Features: See Review
Length: 91 Minutes
Release Date: November 11, 2014

Film ***

From the time he was a child, James Cameron was always fascinated by science and the unexplored worlds of the sea…he makes that clear in James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge. Growing up in the 60s, he felt the thrill of new explorations. Man was, of course, going to the moon, but another expedition, with a little less fanfare but no less exciting, was venturing to the deepest part of the ocean.

In the decades since, man hasn’t bothered to return to either place. But Cameron, who turned his deep sea obsession into a lucrative directing career that included The Abyss and Titanic, began to veer more and more from Hollywood filmmaking and more and more into the passion that defined his childhood.

Cameron’s expeditions to the Titanic were well-documented; they showed us more sides of the ship than we had ever seen before. But as deep and dangerous as those dives were, Cameron had another one planned: the Marianas Trench…at nearly seven miles, the deepest place in the world.

This is a fascinating film rooted in scientific possibilities, as Cameron and his team devise ways to do the impossible. At that depth, one miscalculation could bring death in a microsecond. There have to be many test runs…not all of which run smoothly.

If there is a drawback to this kind of film, it may be that it spends more focus on the process than the results. While we can appreciate the amount of risk (and money) it takes to attempt this kind of exploration, I was more interested in what would be found once he arrived at his destination. And oddly enough, though the first few test dives yielded some spectacular imagery, the bottom of the trench ended up lifeless and featureless. At least for the first attempt…who knows what future dives might yield?

But those are stories for another time. The joy of this film is the beautiful 3D presentation (more on that further down) that brings the danger and wonder to vivid life. Cameron is, of course, far from some Hollywood cream puff…his scientific knowledge and courage has returned some impressive footage, and earned him honors from National Geographic.

Deepsea Challenge is indeed a wonder to behold…and if Cameron really is turning this into his new career, he definitely has the moxie to pull it off.

Video ****

The video quality of this 3D offering is quite stunning…definitely one of the best of the year! Cameron is a filmmaker passionate about 3D, and he delivers spectacular footage here, both above and below the ocean’s surface. The images are crisp and detailed, and really serve the purpose which is to make the viewers feel like they are experiencing all of the same things from the comfort of their living rooms!

Audio ***

Most of the uncompressed audio comes to life during the dives and the activities aboard the boats; particularly the last launch under rough conditions. The transitions are smooth, and all spoken words are well balanced against the noisier sections.

Features *1/2

There are only two short featurettes on the dive and the Trench itself.

Summary:

James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge is a wonder to behold…it may have too much process and too little product, but it remains a spectacular 3D offering that will bring you to worlds we all have only begun to imagine.

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