Sanctum movie review: Sanctum must be seen in 3-D to be appreciated. it's The Poseidon Adventure underwater
2 out of 5 stars
Putting James Cameron's name in front of anything lends it serious box office credibility. Certainly, it's his name that's selling "Sanctum," the new 3-D adventure thriller. That said, this film shouldn't be confused with either Titanic or Avatar, because it comes nowhere near either in terms of the scope or the story. It's not like either of those films were terribly impressive in terms of script or acting, either, but Sanctum is a long way from either of them.
That said, the action sequences and the 3-D effects in Alister Grierson's film are impressive. If you only saw Avatar on a small screen or in 2-D, you've no doubt heard from other people that you had to see it in 3-D to appreciate it. Here's the thing—those people were right. The most impressive aspect of that filmmaking was the immersive effect Cameron created. It was a technical marvel, and if you chose to save yourself five bucks by going down the 2-D road, you did not get the full treatment. In the same vein, Sanctum must be seen in 3-D to be appreciated. And, sadly, perhaps enjoyed.
It's a very simple premise. A diving team is exploring an extensive network of caves in Papua New Guinea when a cyclone hits, blocking their escape route and putting them in serious peril. They can't go up, so the only possible way to survive is to head deeper into the cave system in hopes of finding another way out. The team's leader is Frank (Richard Roxburgh), a grizzled caving vet who is emotionally shut off and entirely too practical. All of this rubs his son, Josh (Rhys Wakefield), the wrong way—and if you don't suspect they'll come to terms with one another by the end of the movie, I envy you. The two are bankrolled by adventure-seeking billionaire Carl (Ioan Gruffudd), and his hot mountain-climbing girlfriend Victoria (Alice Parkinson), and attended by various redshirts we know won't make it to the final reel. Essentially, it's The Poseidon Adventure underwater, with special effects and action sequences that far surpass that leaky old tub.
And yes, it's those sequences that are really what Sanctum is all about. The underwater scenes are often gorgeous, and the rendered landscapes can be stunning. When people die, it's often brutal, terrifying, and nasty—almost no one goes out in a pretty way. The problem is that the characters are barely two dimensional, let alone three, and the acting is generally terrible. Roxburgh is one of the few who seems to understand just what kind of movie he's actually in, and Dan Wyllie manages to charm whenever he's around. But Gruffudd—a talented actor—is just terrible. His American accent sounds forced, and he seems distracted enough by it to be unable to bring anything real to a character who is little more than a type we've seen before. You know, the rich guy who makes all the stupid decisions, gets people killed, and eventually goes nuts enough to try to kill everyone around him so he can survive. I'm sure it's not a spoiler to tell you that he eventually dies a nasty death. Wakefield has cheekbones to die for, but that's his strongest attribute. Both of them are weighted down by terribly thin characters, though you wish the screenwriters had turned Josh into someone real, instead of the kid most likely to survive the movie.
What all of this means is that you don't care about any of the characters, and you're waiting around to see who is going to die and how. But when all is said and done, you won't be particularly surprised by who is still breathing when the credits roll.
More on MovieJungle.com! Become a Fan of the Sanctum Group and follow the Gorilla with with more additions including trailers, interviews with the cast and filmmakers and more!
Genre/s: Sci-Fi Adventure Thriller
Release Date/s: February 4, 2011 (Showtimes, Tickets)
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Production Company: Lighstorm Entertainment
Official Site: Visit the Official Site
CAST & CREW:
Starring: Richard Roxburgh, Rhys Wakefield, Ioan Gruffudd, Alice Parkinson, Dan Wyllie
Directed By: Alister Grierson
Written By: John Garvin & Andrew Wight
Produced By: Andrew Wight, Ryan Kavanaugh, Peter Rawlinson and Michael Maher. Executive produced by James Cameron