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A movie directed by Alister Grierson

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Sanctum 3D dies as tragic as some of it's characters...

  • Mar 11, 2011
  • by
Caving seems like a cool thing in theory, but in practice I'm sure it's not all that cool (except for those special few that do it professionally).  The element of surprise and the vast unknown is terrifying enough above ground and I'm not sure I would want to put myself out there somewhere in the deep blue sea, especially if it has never been "explored" before. 

Sanctum is an adventure thriller that will keep you entertained (so long as you go in armed with a bottle of pain killers).  The setting and sets are beautiful and amazing but the cinematography is a little less than desirable.  With the framing of several scenes giving the 3D a bit of an amature feel by leaving large blobs covering entire corners which throws off the coposition and eventually has your eyes screaming in pain because they couldn't quite tell what they should be focusing on.  Keep in mind this IS NOT a James Cameron film.  He neither directed nor wrote any aspect of this film.  He is nothing more than one of the many executive producers and a BIG NAME to bring in the crowds.  Sanctum was actually co-written by first time writers John Garvin and Andrew Wight (who are actual divers which adds to the diving element of the story) and it was directed by Australian director Alister Grierson (Kokoda).

If you are seriously looking to check out Sanctum I highly recommend that you avoid the 3D screenings like the pleague.  Not only is there nothing that truly deems 3D as a necessity (sorry to disappoint but nothing comes flying at you, there are no explosions and nothing comes straight at the screen).   The story will be just as good (if not better because you can follow it) in 2D.  You will still be able to see the almost unrecognizable cast (mostly Austrailian talent and obscure actors that might soon have larger roles after this film) going through the stressful situation that is forced upon them as their one way out because unaccessible and they must go in search for a new way out through an unknown path.  The sets created are amazing and you will enjoy them for what they are, but there is no need to pay the extra money to see a little extra depth in what we already know is a HUGE cave. 

For all of the pain that the 3D created for me, I will say that the film itself had some very good elements to it as well.  The adventure of cave diving and the stress it puts on those participating in the extreme sport is definitely felt by the audience.  The cast does a great job of making you feel what they are going through (I only wish that Mr Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd) had not been casted as Carl because he was the weakest of all the characters).  Sanctum even gives you a few chair squirming scenes that left me turning my eyes away from the screen.  I would say tht if you are looking for something that will have you on the edge of your seat, Sanctum will give you that.  It is a film to see in theater as it has some amazing visuals of the world beneth the surface, but if you are looking to beat the weather or just enjoy a movie look for theaters not showing it in 3D. 

I give Sanctum a 3.5 out of 5... but Sanctum 3D a 1 out of 5.  If only the world would get off its 3D kick, then we could all be happy.  **Here's hoping**

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More Sanctum reviews
review by . February 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Being promoted as “executively-produced” by James Cameron, the director of “Avatar”, the film “SANCTUM” directed by Alister Grierson generated some buzz in the movie community, and I was almost certain that it would once again display the advancements in 3D technology. I wasn’t really expecting much when I went to see this film; it was inspired by true events when one of the writers of its script Andrew Wright experienced an event that almost cost them their …
review by . July 18, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*1/2 out of ****     "Sanctum" is a full-time underwater cave adventure that bears the spirit of a good thriller, but none of the quality. Executive Produced and "presented" by "King of the World" James Cameron, the movie is the kind that I'd never thought I'd see turn up. It's a movie that was essentially destined to be good, but then the wrong filmmaker got a hold of it, and all went to bloody hell. And that's too bad, because I desperately wanted to enjoy it.    And …
review by . March 20, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
It's all about survival
Caves are awesome! It has a life of its own, hidden below and underneath everyone's scrutiny. To go into caves, exploring what's in them, is an adventure of a lifetime. Virgin caves are what explorers go after. I'd have to contend myself with the tourists' fare. Still, there are less dangers involved and one gets to return without losing one's life and bearings!         Sanctum was shot in Gold Coast and not Papua New Guinea. The story revolves around …
review by . July 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A Beautiful B Movie...nothing more
“Sanctum” is a film about a group of people who aren’t very comfortable in the real world, with its messy relationships and mortgage payments, mixed motivations and emotional complexity and such. They prefer to spend their time exploring subterranean landscapes, alternately climbing and diving their way through lost parts of the world. They seem some stunningly amazing and beautiful sights along the way, and also face life and death situations almost every day.      …
review by . February 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Sanctum exemplifies what happens when innovation becomes more important than a screenplay. The story is contrived, calculating, and unpleasant, but never fear – James Cameron is the executive producer, and he will see to it that we gawk helplessly at the difficult camerawork, the authentically claustrophobic sets, and the 3D effects. Perhaps it was his intention for director Alister Grierson to experience his own private version of The Abyss, …
Quick Tip by . February 07, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Solid film. Probably not the greatest film ever made but is enjoyed it. It reminded me of Into Thin Air, but for caves.
About the reviewer
Hannah aka Angry Penguin ()
Ranked #109
I am a film fanatic, constantly watching films new and old. When not watching movies I'm reading YA lit or sci-fi/fantasy novels, or working on completing my own book.      If … more
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About this movie


Sanctum is a 2011 3D adventure drama film directed by Alister Grierson and executive produced by James Cameron.


During an underwater cave exploration in Papua New Guinea, five people are trapped when a cyclone starts flooding the cave. With the water going up and the air running out, their only hope of survival is to travel through the unexplored underwater caves following the course of the river that leads into the ocean.

The film begins with the explorers 17-year-old Josh (Rhys Wakefield), expedition bank-roller Carl Hurley (Ioan Gruffudd) and his girlfriend Victoria (Alice Parkinson), reaching the cave by helicopter at the Esa'ala Cave site.

Upon reaching the cave it is made known that Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh), Josh's father and a master diver, has already set up a forward base camp deep inside the cave. The team has been exploring the cave system for months, and have set up an excellent communication network that allows communication with the camp from above. While Victoria and Josh rappel down the cave, Carl chooses to dive and parachute into it, reaching the base camp before Josh and Victoria.

While the guests get comfortable, Frank and diver Judes (Allison Cratchley) decide to explore an unexplored section of the cave known as Devil's Restriction. Squeezing through a narrow passage they reach a giant cavern with huge ...

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Director: Alister Grierson
Release Date: 4 February 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: John Garvin, Andrew Wight
Runtime: 109 min
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