Sanctum

"Weak"

Sanctum Review


Inspired by a true story and executive produced by underwater-film fanatic James Cameron, this cave-diving thriller has a lot going for it, thanks to a strong cast and high production values. But the script fails to make anything of the premise.

Fit young Aussie Josh (Wakefield) travels to a remote cave in Papua New Guinea with American financier-adventurer Carl (Gruffudd) and his girlfriend (Parkinson). There they join a team, already deep underground, led by Josh's hard-man dad Frank (Roxburgh). Having just discovered a massive new water-filled chamber, everyone's shocked by the accidental death of a team member (Cratchley). And then a tropical storm descends, flooding their base camp and forcing the spelunkers deeper underground in search of another way out. But the already strained team finds it difficult to work together.

The story is packed with possibilities, especially as the film moves from one outrageous set piece to the next. Director Grierson and his plucky cast really go for it, creating a believably terrifying environment and situations that seem utterly impossible to survive. The physicality of the film is sometimes breathtaking, and the actors all get a chance to flex their muscles along with their acting chops.

The problem is that the dramatic scenes strain the film badly. The whole father-son dynamic might be well-played by Roxburgh and Wakefield, but it's so corny that we never engage with it for a second. And the tension between Frank and Carl isn't helped by Gruffudd's oddly flat American accent or thinly drawn character. Clearly, the screenwriters felt that the story needed a human villain to add some tension, but they fail to make this one believable simply because he's so relentlessly simplistic.

And then there's the problem of the structure, which progresses like a slasher movie as the evil cave kills team members one by one. This leaves us unable to sympathise with anything that's happening, since it's all being so clearly controlled by a writer. We just sit back and enjoy the gorgeous island scenery and amazing underground caverns, although the 3D is never used to its full effect. But by the time the emotional climax comes, we just don't believe it.



Sanctum

Facts and Figures

Genre: Action/Adventure

Run time: 108 mins

In Theaters: Friday 4th February 2011

Box Office USA: $23.1M

Box Office Worldwide: $108.9M

Budget: $30M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Relativity Media, Wayfare Entertainment, Great Wight Productions/ Osford Films, Sanctum Australia, Start Motion Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 30%
Fresh: 49 Rotten: 113

IMDB: 5.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Alister Grierson

Producer: Ben Browning, , , Michael Maher,

Starring: as Carl Hurley, as Frank McGuire, as Victoria Elaine, as Josh McGuire, as Crazy George, as Judes, Christopher James Baker as J.D., Nicole Downs as Liz, Cramer Cain as Luko, Andrew Hansen as Dex, John Garvin as Jim Sergeant, Sean Dennehy as Chopper Pilot, Nea Diap as Kastom Shaman

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