Deepsea Challenge 3D (Blu-ray) – Documentary Review
Follow Genre: Documentary
Director: John Bruno, Ray Quint, Andrew Wight
Distributor: eOne
Duration: 101 minutes

Deepsea Challenge 3D (Blu-ray) – Documentary Review

Site Score
Good: The cinematic feel
Bad: Not so much footage from the bottom of the ocean
User Score
(3 votes)
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Rating: 7.7/10 (3 votes cast)

While some of us might already become sick just thinking about it, others dream of nothing else: exploring the world and discovering new things. Of course, some are more extreme than others. Most of us are probably happy enough going on holiday to exotic places, but some go even further. They are the real explorers who will be remembered for years to come, and play a vital role for science. James Cameron is one of those people as he and his team will try to dive to the deepest point on earth.


Fifty-five years ago, in 1960, Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard were the first in history to dive to the deepest point on earth: the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean, at about eleven kilometers deep. They did so in the bathyscaphe Trieste, but unfortunately weren’t equipped to take samples or pictures while they were there. James Cameron, filmmaker and National Geographic explorer-in -residence, wanted to follow in their footsteps. He surrounded himself with a very talented team, to build a submersible that would be able to endure the pressure of the ocean at such depths. This time, the goal wasn’t only to get there though, but to film and collect samples, as the expedition was mainly scientific.

James Cameron is probably most known for the films he directed such as The Abyss, Titanic and Avatar. Thus it can’t surprise much that he is also a staunch diver. He even dove to the real Titanic’s wreck for research on his film. Diving has always been a passion of his, exploring the depths of the ocean was a dream. How this dream became a reality is what this documentary is all about.

The sub goes into the water for the first attempt at 1000 meters. Technical problems caused the sub to abort it's dive once it was in the water in Jacquinot Bay, PNG

In Deepsea Challenge, we’re able to follow the whole process of making the Deepsea Challenger. We see the team at work, while they experience victories, but also many defeats. In the process, many tests are done, and the one achieves better results than the other. The team has to test whether all equipment works: the communication is checked, the pressure, oxygen levels, the breaking mechanism, the weights to go back up, not a single thing is left out.  There are ups and downs, but the team pushes through, until finally, on March 26, 2012, The Challenger is finished and Cameron is ready to dive.

Cameron himself does the voiceover of this documentary. Every now and then the footage is pimped with small replays of stories Cameron is telling. When he says that in his childhood, he already dreamed of diving, we see a little boy playing in his cardboard submarine. When he mentions Walsh and Piccard’s first dive to the deepest point, part of it is acted out for us. This adds an extra dimension to the documentary and is quite a fun extra.

The imaging of the story is very impressive, certainly the footage where we see the Challenger from the outside, diving to the bottom. You can really catch a glimpse of the vastness of the ocean. While the making of this submarine is very interesting to see, it would have been nice to have seen a bit more of the footage that was actually shot on the bottom of the ocean with the equipment of the Challenger itself. We didn’t get to see much of that now, although that was part of the idea behind building the Challenger. Then again, maybe this can be the subject of a whole separate documentary.

PERMITTED USE: This image may be downloaded or is otherwise provided at no charge for one-time use for coverage or promotion of DEEPSEA CHALLENGE dated 2012 and exclusively in conjunction thereof. Copying, distribution, archiving, sublicensing, sale, or resale of the image is prohibited. REQUIRED CREDIT AND CAPTION: Any and all image uses must (1) bear the copyright notice, (2) be properly credited to the relevant photographer, as shown in this metadata, and (3) be accompanied by a caption which makes reference to the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE.  DEFAULT: Failure to comply with the prohibitions and requirements set forth above will obligate the individual or entity receiving this image to pay a fee determined by National Geographic. 08: Photo by Mark Thiessen/National Geographic Crews continue in-water testing in Australia of DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, the submersible that explorer and filmmaker James Cameron will pilot to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The vessel is the centerpiece of DEEPSEA CHALLENGE, a joint scientific project by Cameron, the National Geographic Society and Rolex to conduct deep-ocean research.


This documentary shows us an interesting insight into the making of the Deepsea Challenger, while also showing the importance of the scientific research that can still be done so far into the depths of the ocean. The alternation between the acting out of certain stories and the real working on the submarine keeps it fascinating to watch, although it would have been nicer still, if we had seen more of the footage shot with the Challenger’s equipment, showing the bottom of the ocean. Despite this minor issue, the documentary is well worth watching and will definitely leave you fascinated.

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Rating: 7.7/10 (3 votes cast)
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Deepsea Challenge 3D (Blu-ray) - Documentary Review, 7.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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