‘Aliens of the Deep’ sinks in the end

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Have you ever wondered if there is life on other planets? If so, have you ever wondered how it got there? Or how it got to this planet, for that sake? I know that these sound like some pressing spiritual questions, but I’m not here to discuss that (at least not today). I’m here to discuss the film “Aliens of the Deep” by director James Cameron, a film with the main focus of (attempting to) answering these questions.

The film is a documentary on a team of “explorers,” made up of both marine biologists and astrobiologists, who are looking for clues at the bottom of the ocean to generate new theories about life on other planets. Until recently, the dominant theory on how life is generated was with the process of photosynthesis, but since we’ve come to be able to explore deeper into the oceans, we’ve found places that have absolutely no sunlight yet have thriving life forms. How?

ccording to the film, they generate around these sulfide structures called hydrothermal vents. These vents form over hot magma, which, after coming in contact with the cold bottom water, precipitate minerals. These minerals, in turn, support expansive underwater ecosystems.

This may sound cool to all those science geeks out there, but this is the entertainment section. What about those going to a movie for that? Good thing this flick is being played in IMAX 3-D theatres. The underwater sequences are amazing. The first image of an underwater creature is an iridescent jellyfish-like thing. The way it flows through the water is breath taking. It almost looks like ribbon, swirling like a dancer.

The film even has some jumpy spots when an octopus bursts in front of a sub. There are many more beautiful images of strange undersea creatures. But some of the most intriguing sequences in the film are of the hydrothermal vents. The sulfide structures take on some very immense formations, and the black clouds that spray out of them are ominous and intimidating. It is strange to think that it’s all minerals.

After a few sequences of different vent sites around the world, the film turns to a computer-animated presentation of how the scientists hope to find these vents in outer space. One location they feel might give the best results is one of Jupiter’s three moons of Jupiter, Europa.

According to the movie, this moon is similar to our own planet, in that it has a hot magma core, which is enveloped by oceans. The only big difference is that a thick layer of ice, so thick, that scientists have no idea how deep it goes, covers the moon’s oceans. The presentation is quite interesting, until it reaches the point of discovering life.

It becomes very apparent that Disney animation was behind this one. The scene reveals an underwater alien city, complete with glowing slug like creatures. It looks like they just pulled out some old stock footage from “The Abyss.” Then to make it even cheesier, the scientists hold up the peace sign and the alien then responds with the same gesture. How convenient the alien only has two digits on its tentacle.

Probably the worst ending to a great movie I’ve seen since “Matrix: Revolutions.”