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James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge Movie Review

Title: James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge

Director: John Bruno, Ray Quint, Andrew Wight

Starring: James Cameron, Frank Lotito, Lachlan Woods, Paul Henri.

‘Deepsea Challenge 3D’ attests how human will is the key to discovery. Pushing ourselves beyond the boundaries that surround us, with cognition and sensibility, can lead to outstanding results. The expedition to make the first solo voyage to the deepest part of the ocean, is an inspiring metaphor on the fulfillment of lifelong dreams.

‘Deepsea Challenge 3D’ blends Cameron’s passions for filmmaking, science, technology and diving, along with his ability to wear multiple hats, such as executive producer, expedition leader, submersible co-designer and pilot. In fact this could also be seen as James Cameron’s coming-of-age story, since he had a fascination with diving from an early age. Titanic’s director earned his scuba certification at age 16 while living in rural Canada and wrote a short story titled ‘The Abyss,’ in his teens, which became the seed for his 1989 science-fiction deep-ocean diving adventure film of the same title. Over the course of the years Cameron led eight deep ocean expeditions, made over 80 submersible dives, and is an accomplished submersible and ROV pilot.

The quest of exploring the aquatic realm in depth was long and well prepared: the idea of building the revolutionary one-man-submersible, “Deepsea Challenger,” started in 2002. This was the first of its kind to make structural use of syntactic foam and have a vertical shape,  and to be equipped with proprietary cameras for shooting 3D at full ocean depth. Every single component was designed from scratch and made in-house to withstand the deep ocean’s more than 16,000-pounds-per-square-inch pressure under the supervision of Cameron and Australian engineer Ron Allum.

The documentary thusly, recounts the personal journey of James Cameron and members of his science team and how these visionary explorers prepared Hollywood’s most acclaimed film-maker for an odyssey that will make history. The team of highly skilled engineers, built a submersible and science platform that for the first time is letting humans truly explore the ocean deep. Through the cameras placed strategically inside and outside of the submersible, the audience will feel as if they are on the dive themselves, although the use of 3D is idle. Unlike 2009’s documentary ‘OceanWorld 3D,’ where the glasses were essential to be drawn under the sea, in ‘Deepsea Challenge 3D’ they are superfluous. Nevertheless you are pervaded by the feeling of oppression of the water abyss.


The yearn and thrill of true discovery in the movie serves to show people the limits of the possible and learn more about the mysteries of the Earth’s water world. Furthermore the movie marks an important contribution to science: the analysis of the specimens Cameron collected during his dives in the submersible, reveal many life forms. At least 100 of them already identified as new specie, and amongst these is a shrimplike amphipod that was found to produce a compound that was already in clinical trials to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge is a contemporary Jules Verne tale, where an established Hollywood film-maker shows us how nature and mankind can converge to unveil the mysteries of our planet.

Technical: B+

Story: B+

Overall: B+

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

James Camerons Deepsea Challenge Movie

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Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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