Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Movie Review: Sanctum

Sanctum **
Directed by:
Alister Grierson.
Written By: John Garvin & Andrew Wight.
Starring: Richard Roxburgh (Frank), Ioan Gruffudd (Carl), Rhys Wakefield (Josh), Alice Parkinson (Victoria), Dan Wyllie (Crazy George), Christopher Baker (J.D.), Nicole Downs (Liz), Allison Cratchley (Judes).

For the most part, I am not a fan of 3-D. It seems to me to be a waste, as movies are already 3-D without the use of those damn glasses by the way the cinematographers shoot the movies. Not only that, but most 3-D – especially in live action movies – tend to make everything in the movie dark, murky and sometimes even blurry to the point where I have no clue what is going on. James Cameron’s Avatar is one of the only exceptions to this rule – and that’s because he spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars to get it right. He is credited as an executive producer on Sanctum – meaning that he put his name on it to help with the marketing – and I must admit that the 3-D in the film is better than most live action 3-D films I have in the past few years. It seems more crisp and clear to me – had the filmmakers used it more effectively, and spent some time on the screenplay, they really may have had something here.

Sanctum is supposed based on real events – but I would be surprised if what happens in the movie resembles what really happened all that closely. If it did, than reality is filled with more clich├ęs than I thought. The story is about a group of cave divers, trying to map out a series of caves in a mountain in South America. They know that the water somehow gets from inside the mountain the ocean – but they have no idea how. There are some brave souls who want this mystery solved – so they have spent years and millions of dollars trying to figure it out. Now a storm is rolling in, and soon they will have to abandon the cave temporarily until it passes – or else they will all drown. Of course, the storm hits sooner than they expected, and the few survivors are trapped. They have two choices – stay where they are and eventually drown, or find that path to the ocean. They opt for the second one.

Of course, this group includes a father and son duo, where bitter resentments exist, because the son thinks his father loves caves more than he does him – and he has a point. There is also the millionaire adventurer who is bankrolling the search, and his hot girlfriend tagging along for the ride. There are others, but they blend together. As they journey deeper into the cave, they start dying one by one though various means.

The place where the shot the movie is somewhat awe inspiring. If you just sit back, and take in the scenery at the beginning of the movie, it’s probably much better than suffering through all the explanation for what is going on, because it is so rote and predictable, that it becomes mind numbing. Things get better as they move along inside the caves, but soon that becomes rather dull as well – one cave looks like another, and soon the scenes start to repeat themselves – the only difference being which one of the characters ends up a corpse. You get no points for guessing who will be alive at the end, since it should be clear from the beginning.

As I mentioned before, I actually think the 3-D in Sanctum works pretty well – or as well as it could be expected. Things are actually clear visually. Yet, I don’t really think the 3-D is necessary – it really doesn’t add anything to the proceedings, but at this point when 3-D doesn’t detract either, I consider that to be a win. The bigger problem is that filmmakers never really find an interesting way to shot this story, and its surroundings. It all becomes boring and repetitive.

The less said on the acting in the movie the better. I cannot really blame the actors, because none of them are given anything interesting to say for the entire running time of the film. As a result, I found it very hard to care about what happened to any of the characters. They are cookie cutters – fodder for the filmmakers to use and kill off to make the film more exciting. But I kept wondering throughout Sanctum what the point of it all was? I’m not sure the filmmakers knew when they were making it, so what chance do the rest of us have?

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