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Movie Review: Sanctum

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I am by no means an outdoorsy person. I hate camping, despise the woods and loathe getting too dirty. Yes, I just may be one of the prissiest men when it comes to that kind of stuff and at least I can own up to it, but watching movies such as Sanctum is a fair reminder of totally different reasons why I avoid the outdoors all together. It’s also reminds me why some movies are made to laugh with while others you can’t help but laugh at

Universal Pictures is doing a huge marketing campaign using the moniker of James Cameron’s name above all things Sanctum-related. From the trailer to posters to online ads to TV commercials, it’s all about everyone being fully aware that the creator of Avatar has crafted a new 3-D event. Just because someone let an inept band of filmmakers use his nifty PACE Fusion 3-D cameras to film this little spelunking gone awry action-adventure doesn’t mean he helped with the actual making of the film.

Sanctum starts off with Josh (Rhys Wakefield) meeting up with Carl (Ioan Gruffudd) and his girlfriend Victoria. They all board a helicopter to meet up with Josh’s father Frank (Richard Roxburgh) who’s been cave diving with his band of merry divers including Judes (Allison Cratchley) and Crazy George (Dan Wyllie). A storm is brewing above but that doesn’t stop Frank and Judes from delving deeper into the underground water and cave system to come upon the newly christened “St. Judes Cathedral.” Before you can say lets get this party started, said storm hits, the cave begins to submerge and it’s the prerequisite fight for survival commences.

If you think you’ve seen some silly action-adventure flicks before, the final third of this film gives them a sure run for the money. Why anyone would take their girlfriend with absolutely no diving experience is beyond me. And just wait till you experience the sheer awe of Carl’s surprise attack scream as he lunges out of a cave to fend off Frank who of course is the only person that can get any of them out alive. When it comes down to following the money (Carl) or the experience (Frank), you know the cast is bound to split up and we all know what that means. If there were ever more of an excuse for the crawlers of The Descent to rear their heads, it would be these characters. As many people have already pointed out, while this may be “inspired by true events,” Aron Ralston should be hanging his head in shame.

 

While Avatar’s use of 3-D was to envelop the audience into a whole new world, director Alister Grierson and writer John Garvin (both making their Hollywood debuts) can’t even suck you into one that already exists. Or at least the parts of it that do as there are several obviously CGI-crafted sections of this underground water system. If Sanctum is all an excuse for Cameron to ready us for what’s to come with his Avatar sequel that’s rumored to take place entirely under water then I suppose it’s a good starter. Here’s just hoping that Cameron uses his own production team to craft his world as what we get here looks like something out of a SyFy movie (although I have to admit that I’m fully looking forward to catching Sharktopus on Blu-ray in March).

Photos courtesy Universal Pictures

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About Cinenerd

A Utah based writer, born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT for better and worse. Cinenerd has had an obsession with film his entire life, finally able to write about them since 2009, and the only thing he loves more are his wife and their two wiener dogs (Beatrix Kiddo and Pixar Animation). He is accredited with the Sundance Film Festival.