A Cave With No Depth
I remember when "Sanctum" was released as there were two big things which were heavily promoted, one that James Cameron was involved as a producer and secondly it was in 3-D. Now I am of a belief that if a movie is any good it should be able to stand up without the novelty factor of 3-D and after watching "Sanctum" in the traditional 2-D I can say that this is one movie which doesn't stand up. I suspect that with 3-D "Sanctum" was an impressive movie on the big screen as it takes us into the dangerous world of spelunkers with the added danger of nature and the weather heightening the tension but without the 3-D it is only an ordinary thriller about a group of spelunkers battling to survive.
With the money of adrenalin junkie playboy Carl (Ioan Gruffudd - Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer) a group of cave divers lead by Frank (Richard Roxburgh - Stealth) have descended into Esa Ala the largest cave on the planet which is yet to be fully mapped. With tension already high between Frank and his son Josh (Rhys Wakefield) the divers find themselves trapped below when a typhoon breaks blocking the only known exit. Now with father and son forced to work together they must try and lead the team to safety through unknown dangerous territory.
So here is the major problem with "Sanctum" it is one big cliche. We have cave divers stuck beneath the surface battling for survival as the caves start to fill up meaning that along the way some of these divers are going to end up victims in the time tested tradition of disaster movies. And of course with a father and son conflict served up at the start they are going to end up making peace along the way. It is all extremely ordinary and to make matters worse is that instead of giving us characters with depth we are just served up a selection so that the only depth we get is that Frank and Josh don't get on whilst Carl is an adrenalin junkie. That in turn means that we don't have any feelings for these risk takers or really understand why they do it so when one ends up dying it never affects us.
The cliches keep on rolling and at times the dialogue is so corny and cliche it is embarrassing. In fact at one point I though it was going to fall into self parody as the dialogue was so poor. And of course when you have characters without depth churning out corny dialogue it makes it even worse.
So in the end "Sanctum" ended up exactly what I expected it was going to be way back when it was released and that was a movie which traded on 3-D. Now I am sure that it must have looked impressive on the big screen with various big scenes manufactured to showcase the technology, some of which are laughably contrived such as when Carl instead of abseiling into the cave parachutes down. But as I said I believe a good movie should be able to stand up with out the novelty of 3-D and this one doesn't. It just ends up ordinary when you compare it to other movies which have taken us into the depths of a cave.
What this all boils down to is that "Sanctum" is an ordinary movie which might appeal to those who get their kicks from spelunking but is dull for anyone else. And like so many movies which were promoted as being in 3-D this one just doesn't work with out that novelty.