Review: SANCTUM (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Review: SANCTUM (2011)


Attached a brand name that goes by "James Cameron", and (everyone) starts to take notice. That is exactly what SANCTUM tries to sell to the viewers. No doubt with Cameron himself involved as one of the executive producers, and everything else that stamped his trademark -- underwater and that innovative 3D camera technology previously employed in AVATAR (2009) and RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE (2010) -- it's definitely hard to ignore the existence of SANCTUM. But beyond that, the movie is more of a marketing gimmick and the end product itself is merely your typical underwater action-adventure coupled with uninspired direction, hackneyed script, lame characters and surprisingly lack of thrills.

At the beginning of the movie, we learn that Papua New Guinea's famed Esa-ala is the largest unexplored cave system ever existed in the world. And down the cave is where master diver Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh) and his team have been based there for the last thirty-four days. They are all tired, and they are soon to be joined on the last leg of their research by Frank's estranged 17-year-old son Josh (Rhys Wakefield), wealthy entrepreneur Carl Hurley (Ioan Gruffudd), and Carl's inexperienced hot girlfriend Victoria (Alice Parkinson). After a botched underwater cave expedition that leads one of the team's death, Frank suffers a dilemma that he is unable to rectify the situation. But that is just a beginning. What happens next is a bad storm coming up in no time, and if that's not enough, a falling boulder has blocked their exit from above. With the water increasingly rising, Frank and his remaining surviving team have no choice but to force swimming down to an unfamiliar cave system in attempt to locate another way out. As their underwater journey has become increasingly dangerous, they soon experienced short amount of supplies (lights, oxygen tanks) while some of them begin to suffer a series of panic attacks, decompression sickness and hypothermia.

At the ground basis, you would have figure that a screenplay co-written by Andrew Wight who once had a first-hand experience on cave diving and became one of the victims trapped with fourteen other people in a cave for two days, would have come up something that is remarkably intense. However, both him and John Garvin are first-time feature screenwriters, and their lack of experience are obviously present in this movie. For a supposedly exciting movie involving around a small members of people trapped inside the underwater cave system, the entire movie is surprisingly dull at almost every department. The writing are just plain bad, with banal and equally laughable dialogues like "What could possibly go wrong diving in caves?", and a number of ego-driven characters that are hardly to care about. No doubt Richard Roxburgh is making quite an impression playing a hard-ass character but for that alone, his unlikable character has ultimately ruined the subtlety of the movie. Rhys Wakefield, who plays as Frank's 17-year-old son, spends most of the time whined a lot you wish you wanted to cut him off. And there's Ioan Gruffudd, whose arrogant wealthy bastard role has got to be among the most annoying character ever seen in recent memory. In the meantime, the female characters are either reckless beings or spend too much time complaining a lot.

Alister Grierson's direction, as previously mentioned, is uninspired. His previous directorial effort was the 2006's little-seen war drama called KOKODA, and here he puts little effort to raise beyond its talky script while he has almost no sense of kinetic flair when comes to delivering dramatic scenarios. Even there are a number or two suspenseful moment with the heavy aid of David Hirschfelder's thumping score, there are simply not enough claustrophobic nature and real excitement to recommend this movie entirely. Still, the usage of 3D camera system and Jules O'Loughlin's underwater cinematography is quite a sight to behold, but doesn't exactly justify the price of the admission. It's just too bad that SANCTUM turns out to be a shockingly dull experience. Don't bother to waste your hard-earned money watching this in 3D.


Jo-Achilles said...

I went to see the movie without any expectations and find the storyline quite interesting (just a bit confuse on who and who died). Overall, i enjoyed the movie but have to agree that the 3D effects doesnt make much difference.

peckinkub99 said...

Yup, that 3D effect is mainly for marketing gimmick.