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Deepsea Challenge movie review

The film follows the legendary James Cameron on his life-long journey of reaching the deepest spot on the Earth, the Mariana Trench. However, what should have been the most entertaining and successful film due to it's budget and renown, ended a movie festival with a belly flop. The documentary does have moments when it shines but it never truly gains in stride in the water.

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The documentary opens with Cameron as a boy, played by a young actor crafting a submarine out of cardboard boxes. Although a good idea to set the promise of Camerons unwavering obsession with the sea, the scenes felt forced and a little clunky. The film attempts to make Cameron accessible through his childhood dreams, but it comes off as fake and bit of an overkill.

Once it started to focus more on the voyage and the test dives with the Challenger the submarine Cameron dives into the depths with the documentary stopped treading water and picked up more intrigue. Outlining the building process of what looks like a sinking metal death trap helped show us the level of intelligence and risk that actually goes into pulling off a feat such as this.

Where the film truly sailed was with it's use of tension, but only at first. And the Challengers small confines and mishaps was the perfect place for this. We sweated with Cameron in that metal sub, our toes curled with him when the oceans temperature dropped in the deep, and we worried with his wife if he was ever going to re-emerge on the waters surface. In these teeth grinding and nail biting moments, the movie piqued our interest and our eyes stayed glued to the screen. But a film can't just bank on it's suspense. And after up playing the same types of conflict and tension over and over again, it lost it's impact.

When thinking of deep ocean adventures, audiences typically expect some exotic and never before seen fish swimming around on the screen. There was some sea life sprinkled throughout, but not much. This could rely heavily on preference since sea critters weren't the main focus of the documentary, but we feel there is an unspoken promise when it comes to exploring in the oceans depths with a camera; and that's the promise of light-up jelly fish and gnarly squids and octopi.

But what it lacked in sea critters it made up with emotional turmoil. An untimely helicopter crash caused a tidal wave of heart break throughout the theater when contributors to the Challenger and Camerons close friends passed. The rest of the film didn't possess much emotion and that made this so jarring. It drowned us with an unfortunate and traumatic event out of the blue, kind of like a slap in the face. Despite the realness of death, the film still managed to feel artificial in these scenes, even though we know it truly isnt. Must just be how the camera captured it.

Even in it's more powerful moments, the film sinks into an ocean of poor portrayal. Scenes that could have been more emotional did not feel authentic. The staged earlier years of Cameron tried too hard and ended up cheesy. The ocean depths that we're being explored didn't immerse us and lacked exotic creatures. We are glad Cameron shattered a new record and ascended from the deepest part of the world after his voyage, but we just wish he left the documentary down there.

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Posted in Business Post Date 03/06/2021


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