Saturday, July 26, 2014

Film Review: Sanctum (2011)

Sanctum (Review)
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...the sense of adventure is great."

An expedition into Esa'ala Cave, led by master diver Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh), becomes a fight for survival when a storm hits.

Sanctum is fairly straightforward and simple. The story follows Frank and company, which includes his son Josh and the expedition bankroller expedition bank-roller Carl Hurley (Ioan Gruffudd), as they attempt to survive and escape these uncharted caves. That includes bickering between father and son, exhilarating swims, and deadly climbing. There really isn't much more to the story, otherwise. Sanctum leads to a decent ending -- the final act has a few genre clich├ęs, but it works out for the ending.

Sanctum, despite its attempts at character and story, is a barebones survival-adventure film. The story is simple, which is both good and bad. On one hand, it's simple and easy to jump into. On other hand, the story feels hollow and uneventful. Also, there are a few problem characters. For example, Josh is excessively self-righteous and Carl's girlfriend, Victoria, is stupid; I was going to be nice and call her ignorant, but she's borderline stupid. (she does the opposite of what she's told all the time.) Fortunately, the sense of adventure is great. It's an exhilarating and exciting battle for survival. Sure, it can feel repetitive, but it's refreshing and lively. I loved this great feeling it invoked.

The acting is decent and mediocre. Richard Roxburgh was decent. Ioan Gruffudd and Alice Parkinson are mediocre. Maybe it was the writing or the delivery, or both, but the dialogue feels unnatural. I watched the 2D version on Netflix, but the film looks like it should be watched in 3D. (i.e. The 3D set pieces stick out like a sore thumb.) Otherwise, I though the film looked great. The music was also fantastic; the music is really helped in building the sense of adventure the film invoked. Director Alister Grierson builds the atmosphere and sense of adventure well; I think the hollow and often generic writing is more to blame for Sanctum's downfalls.

Overall, Sanctum is an exciting adventure film. The film has more than a handful of breathtakingly thrilling scenes. The cinematography and music are also great. However, the story is uneventful, the characters are irrational, the runtime is bloated, and the acting is merely decent. It could've been so much more with better resources and writing. As it is, it's worth watching for thrill seekers.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, and very brief nudity.

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