By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 4.5 out of 10
In a movie about a cave, you wouldn’t expect the biggest hole in the story to be the cast. Sanctum is a massive disappointment, mixing in a dumb plot with even worse dialogue and a fleeting lack of anything remotely interesting.
Carl Hurley (Ioan Gruffudd) lead an expedition into an underwater cave in Papua, New Guinea. Bringing Josh McGuire (Rhys Wakefield), Hurley plans on discovering an unknown system of caves. Josh’s father Frank (Richard Roxburgh) is a master diver and the head of the expedition. When things start to go horribly wrong, the group attempts to escape the caves with their lives.
Once the trailers came out for Sanctum, many people saw that James Cameron was involved and thought that the movie would have some strength to it. Once people got inside of the theater, they realized that to be false. The best part about this film is the visual nature of it. The cave is expansive and impressive, and the film, meant to be shown in 3D, is good to look at. If you went and watched the movie on mute, it would probably end up being a mediocre film.
This film had a lot of upside. The film has its high points, and takes a good look at the inevitability of cave diving, along with the adventures. Sanctum is a rehash of an experience that its director had in an underwater cave, which luckily did not result in the same catastrophic conclusion we see in the film.
Sanctum falls flat on its face once the group enters the cave. The intuitiveness screeches to a hault, replacing any kind of character development with constant screaming, diving and climbing. A disjointed nature emerges right in the beginning, when Frank is is forced into an awful decision while exploring an underwater cave. It is one of those scenes that would have been ideal later in the film, but at the time where it occurs, it simply lacks any impact.
All of the movie stereotypes that you have come to hate are in this movie; the hot-headed high roller, his stuck up bitch of a girlfriend, the gang is all here. By the end of the film, you’re glad that some of these characters are off-ed just so you don’t have to hear them talk anymore.
As for the talk, the dialogue is as bad as the characters. Lines are uttered without much volume, character, or drive. Important conversations are wasted and meaningless conversations seem like complete cannon fodder. For a film that wants to have the honor of putting James Cameron’s name onto it, you would expect that those making the film would pay more attention to the pieces that count.
The plot is as disjointed as the cast. It is your standard GTFO plot – something bad happens, misunderstandings run rampant among the cast, and people start to die in miserable ways until one character makes a drastic sacrifice in order for the rest of the individuals to survive. It’s hard to screw that up, but Sanctum manages to find a way to make it all completely uninteresting. This film is as hollow as it gets, and by the end, you’re simply bored out of your mind.
Not to mention on top of all of this, the movie is insanely depressing. In almost every death in the film, the character that dies makes a decision or a mistake that costs them their lives. It is a harrowing and upsetting undertone that fate did not intervene, instead the individuals made their own choices that ultimately led to their demise.
Sanctum is simply a waste of time and money. A disappointing film that had potential, Sanctum instead falls victim to a bad plot supported by bad acting and writing. Hopefully at the outset of this film, viewers will simply wish to throw a copy of Sanctum into a cave as large as the one seen in the film, with the hope that it will stay there forever.