February 5, 2011

Movie Review: Sanctum

As I left the theater, having sat through the experience of Sanctum, I thought I had seen an entertaining adventure movie, flawed to be sure, but entertaining nonetheless. Having had some time pass and allowed a little time to reflect and I realize that what I saw was a series of some cool looking caves filled with people I could care less about and a plight that never really connected with me.

Sanctum is a movie that wants to tell a story of human survival in the face of a daunting natural enemy. It wants to show great determination in the face of a seeming impossible task. This is on top of it being a true story. Well, inspired by a true story. Whatever it is, it would have been better with monsters. There are so many movies that would have been better with monsters. Perhaps if the screenplay had been more compelling, or the characters more interesting I would not have spent so much time thinking about the improvement monsters would have brought.

The story follows an expedition to the Esa-ala caves in Papa New Guinea, said to be the largest natural cave system. The thrust of the story is that rich boy adventurer Carl (Ioan Gruffudd) is financing the dangerous cave dive and scuba exploration whose goal is to figure out how the water gets from the big hole to the ocean. The team is lead by the curmudgeonly Frank (Richard Roxburgh), the guy knows how to dive and everything must go his way. The team includes Frank's son, Josh (Rhys Wakefield), and a bunch of people I didn't care about enough to remember their names.

Before long a big storm hits and out team is stuck in the rapidly filling cave system. Without the ability to go out the way they came in, they decide to push forward and hope to find that ocean exit they've been looking forward to. Off they go, diving into water, popping up somewhere else, arguing, showing their complete inability to have an actual conversation, people die, people get angry, and, well, ho-hum.

I thought I was liking their journey. I thought we were heading somewhere interesting. It turns out we never got there. The action does get amped up a bit at the end, but it is all for naught as it was too little too late. I thought I liked it, but I think I was suckered by decent 3D and some cool looking rocks. As a movie it just goes absolutely nowhere. The story never gets interesting, the characters lack basic humanity and do not know how to have a conversation. The way it is show does not help its case either. We are never given a very good idea of where they are in the system or the characters relationship to the cave they are in.

It all adds up to a movie with characters we don't care about or even know where they are. I realize that what I thought I liked was just me trying to convince myself on the way out. It happens from time to time, it is not always a good time to ask an opinion upon just exiting the theater.

I still stand by the fact that monsters would have made this better.

Not Recommended.

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