"The Abyss: The Deluxe Edition"
Varese Sarabande Club
Disc 1: 19 Tracks/Disc Time: 56:50
Disc 2: 19 Tracks/Disc Time: 57:28
Total Set Time: 114:08 Grade: B
In the crowded, yet disappointing Summer of 1989 James Cameron unleashed what would be a film that was way ahead of its' time and would be surrounded by some controversy. That movie was "The Abyss", Cameron's follow up for Twentieth Century-Fox after the success of the successful and brilliant, yet troubled production of the hit sequel to "Alien", "Aliens". The film was Cameron's version of "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind" underwater as the film begins with the disappearance of a nuclear submarine and the Navy soon enlists a deep sea oil rig crew lead by roughneck Bud Brigman (Ed Harris, "GlenGarry Glen Ross") along with his soon to be ex-wife Lindsay (Mary Elizabeth Mastantonio, "Scarface") and Bud's rag tag crew under the command of the nonsense Lt. Coffey (Michael Biehn, "The Terminator", "Aliens"). While the crew searches underwater for the missing sub, Bud and the crew begin to encounter some weird activity and start to encounter some creatures unlike they've never seen before. They soon figure out that they are aliens here for a specific reason and soon Coffey panics and brings about a conflict that would endanger the lives of the crew. Bud soon finds a way to distinguish the conflict and soon goes an expedition to fulfill the mission and finds a life altering experience that will change his life.
The film was a minor hit despite the fact that the film was trauncated to a modest 139 minute running time which was good, but not as impactful. However, Cameron would revisit the film soon after making "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" along with "Aliens", restoring "The Abyss" to the way he had intended to release it at close to the original three-hour running time which wowed critics this time around as this version of the film made its' debut on Laserdisc and eventually would resurface on VHS and DVD utilizing the full aspects of the format. A Blu-Ray of the film is due to come out sometime this year by Fox Home Entertainment which has been long overdue.
James Cameron had a rather trying experience on "Aliens" as much as Oscar Winning Composer James Horner did, as they clashed over the unfinished product for the film and ultimately having to write everything virtutually at the very last minute testing Horner's patience. This time however, Cameron had a much easier time working with the easy going and consumate composer that is Oscar nominee Alan Silvestri, who had been coming off a string of memorable scores that included "Romancing The Stone", "Back To The Future", "Predator" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", which would change the face of film forever when it comes to blending live action with animation much like "Avatar" would revolutionize 3D again. "The Abyss" was definitely a different movie animal in that the film was mostly about characters more so than the grand special effects that would eventually dominate the final hour or so of the film. Silvestri approached the film in two ways: one is purely electronic which provides both atmosphere and awe for most of the underwater sequences and the second is a pure robust and dramatic score that really does take over during the final hour of the film in sweeping epic form.
Starting with the lovely chorus of "Opening Title" led by the lovely vocalist Sally Stevens, which gives way to a full orchestrial triumph and sets up the score's main theme is followed up by the suspenseful and mysterious "Montana/Crash/Flood" with its' somewhat frenetic orchestration that leads and builds up to a powerful crescendo of drama. Then Silvestri introduces us to Coffey and his crew's arrival in full military mode in "Marker Bouy/They're Coming" which gets a fuller and expanded version of the theme in Mirv Recovery/SEAL's Return". The score really takes off in both atmosphere and tension with the tracks "Let Me Drown Your Rat/Search The Montana", "Here's Mirv/Some Huevos", "Have To Take Steps/Jarhead Is Watching", "Coffey Break", "Coffey Implodes" and "Freeze" which really mix alot of the big orchestrial material along with some errie synthesizers that really help the instrumentation achieve the drama and suspense of what's on screen. Silvestri switches to an action driven mode utilizing his percussive electronics as he had done on many of his 80's action scores in "The Fight" which is for a neat underwater fight between Bud and Coffey. Silvestri underscores the close encounter sequences pretty much the same as he approached "Predator" with tense strings, brass and percussion in the tracks "Lindsey's Close Encounter", "The Pseudopod" (which is my favorite track of the entire score that builds to a playful tender mood and cluminating with dark strains of suspense), " Bud's Big Dive", "Bud On The Ledge", Bud Reborn/Blinky Bows", and "Back On Air" which which also feature the tension and suspense as earlier tracks on the album. Silvestri also includes some serious drama in "Resurrection", a track that features hammering percussion leading to a tender conclusion. "Finale And End Credits" ends this powerful score on a high note with a reprise and expansion of the main theme to a rousing and choral filled conclusion.
Varese's newly expanded release of the score is one long in coming after the original album went out of print sometime ago which was a very solid representation of the score for its' then lengthy 47 minute running time which was somewhat unheard of for an L.A. recorded score for the label. This time around this deluxe edition features the score in its' most complete form which features alot of music that either please fans of the score or disappoint most. I personally like alot of the extra music which was sorely missing from the original album and also the fact that its' remastered makes one heck of a difference since the album was mixed somewhat low, but also take into account that the engineering then wasn't as potent as it is today, so I'll give it some slack on that end. "The Abyss" is a score that really deserves the deluxe treatment as many of Varese Sarabande's albums deserve, but this one a very solid and intriguing musical spectacle that works all the way. Recommended. Thumbs Up!