The timing of "Aliens of the Deep" couldn't be better. Days after a space probe landed successfully on Saturn's moon Titan and sent back spectacular photographs of its surface, here is a movie that explores the depths of the seas of Earth and then uses animation to imagine a probe that would fly to Jupiter's moon Europa and drill through its ice layer to the liquid water thought to be below. By finding living creatures on Earth that live under extreme conditions -- no sunlight, no photosynthesis, incredible pressure, extremes of hot and cold -- producer-director James Cameron convincingly argues that life could exist in the seas of Europa or, for that matter, in any number of harrowing environments.
For Cameron, the film continues an obsession. When he wrote and directed "The Abyss" in 1989, his story involved scientists venturing into the deepest parts of the ocean. The movie was a box office disappointment, not least because the director's cut reveals that the studio chopped crucial and amazing footage -- and also, reportedly, because many potential ticket-buyers did not know what an "abyss" is. For Cameron, it was an epiphany.