The 3-D action-thriller Sanctum follows a team of underwater cave divers on a treacherous expedition to the largest, most beautiful and least accessible cave system on Earth. When a tropical storm forces them deep into the caverns, they must fight raging water, deadly terrain and creeping panic as they search for an unknown escape route to the sea. Master diver Frank McGuire has explored the South Pacific's Esa-ala Caves for months. But when his exit is cut off in a flash flood, Frank's team-including 17-year-old son Josh and financier Carl Hurley are forced to radically alter plans. With dwindling supplies, the crew must navigate an underwater labyrinth to make it out. Soon, they are confronted with the unavoidable question: Can they survive, or will they be trapped forever? Written by
My Mother always told me if I didn't have anything nice to say than I shouldn't say anything at all. Well, this review would already be over if I abided by that, such is Sanctum's awfulness. It had the misleading "James Cameron Presents" label on the posters, but despite the marketing boost this may have produced it also served as an expectations-heightener, something this mega-flop could've done without. In fact, at first glance it's hard to see why Mr Avatar would want to attach his name to a shambles such as this. On a closer look my guess is it might've been a combination of two things: his intense love for the extreme depths of the deep blue (as witnessed in his multiple underwater docos) and the chance to help a relative newcomer in the director's seat (Grierson's only other feature film being Kokoda in 2006).
Unfortunately the Aussie filmmaker doesn't show anything that would suggest he's one to keep an eye on. The action is unconvincing and the pacing uneven, Grierson struggles to effectively frame his shots with flair or excitement. One of the major opening shots featuring a handful of thrill-seekers abseiling and parachuting down the 2km deep cave should've sent the adrenaline pumping, instead it completely fizzles, the first warning sign that Grierson doesn't have a handle on the action. The movie only gets worse from there, and even the admittedly decent 3D can't salvage it.
Andrew Wight and John Garvin's script is downright atrocious. Both their narrative and dialogue is strictly amateurish. The plot developments and character arcs are laughable, predictable and one-dimensional. You'll know exactly how the story plays outs well in advance, but worse, you won't care. The actors aren't given much to work with in way of conversation either; Wight and Garvin heavily overdo the True Blue Ocker Aussie jargon and they frustratingly utilise the dialogue as a means of spelling out exactly what each character thinks.
They may not get any assistance from the dire screenplay or the unsteady direction; however the cast are in embarrassing form and, excuse the pun, sink to new lows. Home and Away¬-er Wakefield proves his thespian skills are more appropriately aligned with extraordinarily crappy soapies; his melodramatic acting unsuited to the big screen. The former Mr Fantastic, Gruffudd, is stilted and wooden as the smarmy American playboy, despite having the advantage of not being required to talk like a bogan from Western Sydney. And the usually reliable Roxburgh with the most humiliating performance of the lot lazily growls his way through the absurd role of the tough and bitter old-hand leading the way.
The first bona fide dud of 2011 has arrived.
1 out of 5 (1 - Rubbish, 2 - Fine, 3 - Good, 4 - Great, 5 - Brilliant)
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