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Sanctum (2011)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Alister Grierson

Starring:
Richard Roxburgh/Frank
Ioan Gruffudd/Carl
Rhys Wakefield/Josh
Alice Parkinson/Victoria
PLOT-CRUNCH
A group of cave divers explore an underwater cave. Mother Nature tells them to go f*ck themselves and they wind up stuck in that cave and have to find a way to reach the surface.
THE LOWDOWN
I guess James Cameron got a raging boner for underwater schtuff after he did Titanic (1997). Since then he’s produced and directed the aqua inclined documentaries: Expedition: Bismarck (2002), Ghosts of the Abyss (2003) and Aliens of the Deep (2005) among others and even has a flick in development called The Dive, I wonder what that one will be about? I doubt that it’s gonna explore the doos and donts of eating out. Then again…who knows? Till we find out, you can add SANCTUN to Cameron’s water fetish list. Although directed by Alister Grierson; it has executive producer Cameron’s fingerprints all over it; minus his usual savvy that is.

SANCTUM had a "been there done that" set-up: group of folks get  trapped in a cave; a fight for survival ensues. I didn’t mind the unoriginal foundation; let’s face it, pretty much everything has been by now. Like my granddad always used to say: It’s not what kind of hooker you plough, it’s HOW you plough her that counts! And being that this sucka was shot using the James Cameron developed 3D Fusion Camera (same baby he used to shoot AVATAR) the flick at least gave me an eyeful. I commend this one on its technical prowess’s. The claustrophobic sense one gets from swimming in tight areas and the panic that sets in when drowning were perfectly conveyed here. They were also emphasised by the striking photography and powerful imagery that put me right there in that damn cave ducking bubbles. Yup, my body tensed up during this watch and no not because I had to hit the head. I was affected by the suspenseful set pieces and the thick ambience of unease. What about the actual 3D you may ask? Yes some scenes were more immersive due to it; but I can't say it affected my viewing to the point where I'd recommend "having to" see it in 3D. I expected better! NOTE: Cave diving has now been officially crossed off my “to do” list. Fuck that shit! I’ll stick to jumping out of planes; much safer.

Plot wise; well once the shite hit the razor blade laced fan; the pace rolled on smooth, tension packed and easy. Yes the turns were fairly predicable and every “peeps stuck in claustrophobic setting” cliché was fast-balled my way; but being that I gave a shit about George (played sympathetically by Dan Wyllie) and worshipped the lead Frank (wonderfully tackled by Richard Roxburgh); the uppercuts worked on me nonetheless. In fact, lets take a moment of silence over here to praise Richard Roxburgh’s performance within our thoughts ………………………………… amen. What a superb bit of casting! Roxburgh was an ideal choice to interpret the emotionally introverted, seemingly fearless and all man’s man leader of the group. Straight up if it wasn’t for that character and Roxburgh’s captivating showcase, I wouldn’t have given two chimps about this movie. He was truly my anchor to the whole spiel. Props and bottle of Bourbon Mr. Roxburgh... on me! Which brings me to my main peeve with the picture:; the obnoxious, one-note characters that wee found in this fish bowl and the stupid ass moves they made.

Wow! The “adults” here made the teens in say the Friday the 13Th remake look like brain surgeons! How am I supposed to get attached to, root for and give a damn about such daft mooks? Let’s break it down for shits and giggles. We got the character of Carl (played by Ioan Gruffudd) who was as thin and irritating as you can get. I never believed he was a true human being for a second. Then you had hot pants Victoria (Alice Parkinson) who kept begging for a healthy, “Sean Connery-ish” back-end via her snooty and “ I won’t listen to the expert, I’ll go diving in freezing cold water with regular clothes” attitude. What the..? Kill me now man! Lastly we had the young buck Josh ( Rhys Wakefield) hating on his pops for an hour… too bad it got played out 10 minutes in. Thankfully he became bearable i.e. a layered human being during the last act. Although I blame the actors for embracing the semi caricatured nature of their roles (Ioan Gruffudd and Alice Parkinson came off as amateurs here); I mostly hold the screenwriters (John Garvin and Andrew Wight) responsible. They are the ones that created such basic and repellent people. Moreover, I find them guilty for the random ear grating dialogue and the trivial moves the peeps made to force drama and bully the narrative in the direction it had to go. We needed a script doctor in here big time!

Good news is that being the sucker that I am; the last block won me over, got me “verklempt” a few times and as the end credits rolled; I felt okay with the flick because it left me on such a potent note. All in all SANCTUM; would make for an ideal rental as opposed to a fully satisfying big screen experience if ya ask me. Sure you’ll miss out on the 3D but it didn’t add THAT MUCH to the proceedings. If you watch it on disk, make sure to invite some buds over; that way you can play Mystery Science Theater 3000 with it every time one of the stock characters says or does something dim-witted. So, you gonna dive into this one's holier of holies or what?
GORE
Some light blood and that was that on that!
T & A
Nathing… ya pervs!
BOTTOM LINE
SANCTUM put out a déjà vu, yet gripping premise; showcased some nifty underwater photography, adequate 3D that randomly upped the impact of the happenings, nail biting set pieces and even pulled at my heart strings come the final act. I was actually entertained for the most part and that's the bottom line for me as to a film going experience. Bummer that it was predictable but worse yet that some of its stock characters were written in such a poor fashion. Nothing worse than irritating characters that do moronic things to serve the plot. I’ll take that jive in a slasher but in an "adult" film like this? YEESH! Yup, when SANCTUM focused on its action it was all good; but when it got into its characters... "take cover"! I say, watch it on a lazy day/night on DVD. You want 3D? Down a gallon of Jack Daniels before your viewing…3D motherf*cking done!
BULL'S EYE
The flick was shot at the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia,

Sanctum’s story was inspired by co screenwriter’s Andrew Wight's experience of leading a diving expedition of 14 and then having to find a way out once a storm made the cave entrance collapse. They were trapped in there for 2 days.
Strikeback
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5:31PM on 02/06/2011
I agree with ScaryMinds. From the sound of it this movie IS Avatar in terms of substance. Cliche, one dimensional characters (unfortunately not all of them can be A-List actors), a generic plot, yet amazing 3D. I haven't actually seen it yet, but I will at some point this week. I can't see it being any worse than Avatar seeing as how I won't have to sit in the theater for almost 3 hours.
I agree with ScaryMinds. From the sound of it this movie IS Avatar in terms of substance. Cliche, one dimensional characters (unfortunately not all of them can be A-List actors), a generic plot, yet amazing 3D. I haven't actually seen it yet, but I will at some point this week. I can't see it being any worse than Avatar seeing as how I won't have to sit in the theater for almost 3 hours.
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4:45PM on 02/05/2011

Thought it was decent, little more than you

Here's my review (though it's worded a bit weird as it's a 'strikeback' to the one on the main page)

[link]

I really dug the 3D though, great great use of it in this flick but like I stated in my review, it's kind of like the 127 Hours version of The Descent, or what The Road was to The Book of Eli... in the end I just wanted some cave monsters to pop out and tear shit up in real 3D!
Here's my review (though it's worded a bit weird as it's a 'strikeback' to the one on the main page)

[link]

I really dug the 3D though, great great use of it in this flick but like I stated in my review, it's kind of like the 127 Hours version of The Descent, or what The Road was to The Book of Eli... in the end I just wanted some cave monsters to pop out and tear shit up in real 3D!
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4:45PM on 02/05/2011

The Arrow misses the obvious

Good take on Cameron's water involved movies, but where's the mention of "Piranha II: Flying Killers"!

Notable one critic Downunder has observed that "Sanctum" is no "Avatar", cool so we can expect a good movie, without a tired plotline, and over reliance on 3D then?
Good take on Cameron's water involved movies, but where's the mention of "Piranha II: Flying Killers"!

Notable one critic Downunder has observed that "Sanctum" is no "Avatar", cool so we can expect a good movie, without a tired plotline, and over reliance on 3D then?
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