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Review: Sanctum

Sanctum
Feb. 4, 2011by:
5 10

PLOT: A team of underwater cave explorers are trapped during a cyclone.

REVIEW: SANCTUM is a film which alternately frustrated and thrilled me. I love a good survival thriller. My favorite of this genre would have to be the great ALIVE, based on a true story which memorably featured Ethan Hawke and Co., being forced to resort to cannibalism to survive a plane crash in the Andes.


Alas, SANCTUM is no ALIVE, but dammit- it could have been! The central premise, being that a team of cave explorers are trapped in an unexplored cave system during a tropical storm should have made for a damn exciting yarn. Think of THE DESCENT, set underwater, minus the monsters. Everything about SANCTUM should have added up to a spectacularly thrilling film, but every time I started to get involved in the film, there was one major aspect that kept me from losing myself in the film. Sadly, that aspect was a pretty major one, in that- with one exception, all of the performances in this film range from mediocre to shockingly bad.

I suppose director Alister Grierson had to save most of his modest budget for the (admittedly spectacular) 3D FX, with little left over that would allow him to pull together a good cast. Almost to a man, all of the acting in SANCTUM is miserably bad, and on the level of a Roger Corman, SHARKTOPUS opus. A survival film isnt worth a damn if you dont care about the people youre watching, and in SANCTUM I didnt give a damn if anyone lived or died, which is fatal to a film like this.

Probably the worst offender here has to be Ioan Gruffudd, who, just a few years ago, seemed to be on the cusp of fame. Hes bloody atrocious here as the token rich a-hole member of the crew, whos footing the bill for Richard Roxburgh, and son Rhys Wakefields cave exploring scheme. Throughout, Gruffudd gave a Razzie-worthy performance, especially towards the end when he starts to go a little squirrelly.


As his love interest, Alice Parkinson doesnt fare much better, with her playing the type of annoying character who refuses to don a wetsuit when diving, and basically puts the team into danger any chance she gets. Finally, theres Wakefield as Roxburghs son, who has major daddy issues, and whines his way through ninety percent of the running time, before finally manning up in the final act. Blame the writing if you will, but Wakefield makes a fairly bland lead.

The only actor who distinguishes himself is Richard Roxburgh as the de-facto lead, playing the hardened team leader who tries to lead his mismatched crew to safety. Its as clichd as you can get in a film like this, with him being the mean dad who never tells his son he loves him until the proverbial shit hits the fan, but at least he seems to be trying to give a good performance.

The only thing that saves SANCTUM from being a total write-off is the amazing 3D FX, done under producer James Camerons supervision. Sure enough, this is the most immersive 3D experience Ive had since AVATAR, and some of the action sequences are breathtaking. If only this had a good script/performance to back it up.

All in all, SANCTUM is certainly worth a watch if you want to take in some really great 3D, but the lousy acting, and hack writing make this a questionable recommendation at best. Its a real shame, as SANCTUM strikes me a major missed opportunity. This could have been a great survival epic, but instead its just a mediocre piece of eye-candy.

Source: JoBlo.com

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5:01PM on 02/05/2011

Huh?

"...its just a mediocre piece of eye-candy."
So its just "Avatar" under water?
"...its just a mediocre piece of eye-candy."
So its just "Avatar" under water?
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7:00AM on 02/05/2011

I know now why you cry..

It's the 20th anniversary of T2. Why not just watch that instead?
It's the 20th anniversary of T2. Why not just watch that instead?
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12:51AM on 02/05/2011
Well, it wasn't a fantastic film but I didn't find the performances too bad either. The 3D was great in places and poor in others do to bright lights shining in your face.
Well, it wasn't a fantastic film but I didn't find the performances too bad either. The 3D was great in places and poor in others do to bright lights shining in your face.
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+0
12:34AM on 02/05/2011

JUST SAW IT

edit: double post somehow. Refer to my review below...
edit: double post somehow. Refer to my review below...
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+1
12:29AM on 02/05/2011

JUST SAW IT

and I had fun.

However, I'd say this review is pretty much accurate through and through but the acting wasn't THAT bad. I didn't find any 'atrocious' performances but the majority were 'mediocre' which does lead you, like the author of this review said, to not really care about the characters. However there needs to be a mention to the father character played by Roxburgh who gives a performance miles above everyone else, you feel for his character, you understand his character and you see
and I had fun.

However, I'd say this review is pretty much accurate through and through but the acting wasn't THAT bad. I didn't find any 'atrocious' performances but the majority were 'mediocre' which does lead you, like the author of this review said, to not really care about the characters. However there needs to be a mention to the father character played by Roxburgh who gives a performance miles above everyone else, you feel for his character, you understand his character and you see his flaws. Good on him, but otherwise... blah. I'd have to agree the choice for a main character (the son) wasn't all that great, not since The Road have I loathed the main young character so much. However it wasn't as bad as the Road and was more, like I said previously, very mediocre.

As for the 3D, the author above is right once again - it's freakin awesome. Some of the best 3D to ever grace the big screen I'd say. No, don't go in there and come out and say 'what are you talking about nothing popped in my face hardly at all!' because if that's what you go for in a 3D movie then you are... well, you're retarded. The 3D is stunning, the depth of the picture is just beautiful and some of the closer shots are also very effective. Some of the shots with light coming through the screen are also very cool, and the most simple effect of the 3D camera, the particles in the water, really stand out and are distractingly cool.

Overall the acting was rather tame but the visuals and 3D were absolutely top notch. A lot of the action sequences are very effective and quite thrilling, as are the surprisingly intense death scenes. Overall I felt that the movie could've been a bit shorter as there was some excess fat that could've been slimmed off but it was an enjoyable, if forgettable experience. That is, aside from the 3D.

If not for the 3D and some of the death/intense moments I would much rather be watching The Descent again which is one thing I thought of when I was finished seeing the film. It's like the 127 Hours version of the Descent, but in the end - as beautiful as the 3D was, I just couldn't help but think how much cooler it could've been if they ran into cave monsters ala The Descent or even that 'The Cave' movie or whatever it was called. Now that would've been cool.

I'd recommend this one to anyone looking for a true 3D experience and to see some of the technology's magic in action, like so many other movies have failed to do so. But that's the problem with this one, it's not a great enough movie to say 'go see it in the theatre!' but the 3D is great enough to say 'go see this in the theatre!'. Usually if a movie isn't that good or is merely 'decent' you say 'just wait til it hits home video' however that would defeat the purpose, unless you have a 3D-ready TV. Tough choice, but if you have nothing else to do... it's worth a watch.

6.5/10 with the 3D
5/10 without the 3D
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5:03PM on 02/04/2011
This review is exactly what I guessed it would be like after seeing the trailer. At least the trailer didn't lie.
This review is exactly what I guessed it would be like after seeing the trailer. At least the trailer didn't lie.
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+1
3:15PM on 02/04/2011

don't care

I'll be seeing this one tonight simply for the imagery. I never expected, nor really desired an amazing story out of this. It's pretty much impossible to make a great story out of this because of the plot.

- People go cave diving
- People get stuck in cave
- People need to find a way out

It's simple, it's familiar, and it sounds fun. This isn't the kind of movie that you go to and start nitpicking the acting or the writing unless it's absolutely completely horrendous, which I'm sure it
I'll be seeing this one tonight simply for the imagery. I never expected, nor really desired an amazing story out of this. It's pretty much impossible to make a great story out of this because of the plot.

- People go cave diving
- People get stuck in cave
- People need to find a way out

It's simple, it's familiar, and it sounds fun. This isn't the kind of movie that you go to and start nitpicking the acting or the writing unless it's absolutely completely horrendous, which I'm sure it won't be - seeing as Cameron put his name on it.

I'm going for what should be some amazing scenery and some sure-fire kick ass 3D. That's real 3D. Not the could be good but most likely complete shit post-converted 3D. Finally.
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10:42AM on 02/04/2011
Fuck this movie and 3D! They think by making a 3D movie and slapping James Cameron's name on it will get people to go. How sad that soon people will forget Cameron's other movies and when people mention his name they will say "oh yeah the 3D guy". How long till we see titanic re released in 3D? Yeah he is that close to becoming George Lucas.
Fuck this movie and 3D! They think by making a 3D movie and slapping James Cameron's name on it will get people to go. How sad that soon people will forget Cameron's other movies and when people mention his name they will say "oh yeah the 3D guy". How long till we see titanic re released in 3D? Yeah he is that close to becoming George Lucas.
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10:39AM on 02/04/2011
I already bought my 3D tickets for this one for tonight. I'm in in for the 3D and my wife watches shit like The Bachelor so I doubt she'll notice the bad performances.
I already bought my 3D tickets for this one for tonight. I'm in in for the 3D and my wife watches shit like The Bachelor so I doubt she'll notice the bad performances.
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