Sanctum – Review

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Have you ever sat in a cave for more than an hour? No? Ever thought about doing it? No, because the only possible scenario where you’d consider it would be to find shelter in some post-apocalyptic nightmare and you had no other options. Hate to tell you folks but nothing too exciting is coming out to save your weekend.

Sanctum is a film slapped together during an Avatar set visit by an unestablished filmmaker and James Cameron’s underwater documentary buddy. If anything, it was just annoying ploy to get audience to buy more into the idea of 3D as a viable entertainment option.

The story of this film was inspired by a near death experience by Andrew Wight. Yet the plot of this movie lacks the elements of even the most believable of stories. Looking to dive into one of the most complex and unexplored cave system in the world, this expedition team is confronted with physical extremes and psychological hurdles to overcome if they need to survive. Sure, sounds good but it’s told in the most poor and half-assed fashion. It’s rare for me to want some monsters to show up and eat the cast but this was just that type of movie.

The beginning of this movie feels like an ambitious film from the 90’s. A score and sense of amazement that is right in line with Jurassic Park. The helicopter flight to the island and the beautiful shot of the mouth of Esa Ala cave bring you back years ago when you thought you were going to see a bunch of dinosaurs chow on tourists. The similarities don’t end there, there is a fairly cool “purposely” nonrendered computer generated tour that quickly shows you the scope of the park.. I mean cave. Before they begin the expedition they are warned that the quest will be cut short due to a storm coming in two days. Dramatically, that storm shows much earlier than planned and starts the havoc of our characters.

If you were expecting the grace and awe of the computer generated effects that Cameron usually employs, well you’ll be disappointed. The decade and a half old Jurassic Park had effects that make this movie look like a Syfy Original Picture.

This ambitious film tries too hard in other areas to make up for its fairly uninteresting cinematography. Characterization is rushed and unset, halfway through the picture the players act and react to situations that don’t fit them. The leader of the expedition, Frank, borders on the line of being a sociopath, but the situation that him and his team are stuck in it would almost take the selfish emotional tendencies of one to get through it.

This film is not without its awesome moments. When tougher than nails but “I won’t use a corpse’s wetsuit” Victoria is caught in her harness, you get to see some of the really great special effects makeup that employed. Maybe sticking to practical effect would have helped this film, because shooting in 3D didn’t cut it. You’d probably better set to dump a bucket of water on you while you sit through this movie, for the 3D does nothing but be an annoyance in this film as opposed to drawing you in. For a movie that plastered James Cameron’s name all over its marketing attempts, this film really lacks any innovation that should be associated with it.

Alternatively..find the beer cave at your local convenience store, grab a six pack of your favorite and rent The Descent. You’ll be much happier with your evening.

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