Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Sanctum (Blu-ray)

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
6 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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Rating: R

Starring:
Richard Roxburgh as Frank
Ioan Gruffudd as Carl
Rhys Wakefield as Josh
Alice Parkinson as Victoria
Dan Wyllie as Crazy George
Christopher Baker as J.D.
Nicole Downs as Liz
Allison Cratchley as Judes
Cramer Cain as Luko
Andrew Hansen as Dex
John Garvin as Jim Sergeant
Sean Dennehy as Chopper Pilot
Nea Diap as Kastom Shaman

Directed by Alister Grierson

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes
Sanctum: The Real Story
Nullarbor Dreaming
Feature Commentary with Director Alister Grierson, Actor Rhys Wakefield and Co-Writer/Producer Andrew Wight

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Sound
Spanish Language
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

"From executive producer James Cameron ('Avatar') comes a thrilling underwater adventure based on true events. Master diver Frank McGuire leads a team—including his 17-year-old son—to explore the largest most beautiful and least accessible cave system on Earth. But when a tropical storm cuts off their only escape route the team must work together to find their way through an uncharted and dangerous underwater labyrinth to make it out alive. With time running out can they survive or will they be trapped forever?"

"Sanctum" is rated R for language, some violence and disturbing images.

Mini-Review:
The thing I liked about "Sanctum" is the fact that everything that happened in it could happen in real life. The cave diving shown in the film is realistic. People could really be trapped in caves. People could really be killed in the ways shown in the film. Even though a movie is inspired by true events, that doesn't mean it's always necessarily realistic. "Sanctum" strives for a high degree of realism and as far as I could tell, they achieved it.

My only real problem with "Sanctum" is the fact that it's pretty depressing. Usually in survival films, the story is about the survivors rising to the occasion to make it out alive or, alternatively, turning on themselves to bring about certain doom. "Sanctum" is the latter. I don't want to spoil the movie, but suffice it to say that almost all of the survivors make mistakes that eventually lead to their demise. Some succumb to panic. Some take a wrong step. Some flat out go insane. The only question is whether they will be able to survive that mistake long enough to make it to another mistake. This utter lack of hope and ever-increasing body count makes "Sanctum" a dark, depressing ride. It's an interesting ride, but not a fun one.

"Sanctum" was originally intended to be viewed as a 3D presentation on a big screen. I never got to see it in 3D, but I imagine it would have been quite impressive. There are lots of shots of divers swimming in crystal clear water, people standing in the middle of massive caves, and other impressive shots. These would have looked great popping out of a big screen. The movie does lose some impact in 2D, but I think seeing it in this version allows you to judge it more on its merits as a story without the razzle dazzle of 3D. If you happen to have a 3D home theater system, I'd recommend checking it out in that version.

The cast of "Sanctum" is strong. Rhys Wakefield is a good lead as Josh. He well-embodies the surly teenager stereotype. He has that teen immaturity, yet he's also on the edge of manhood. He has a convincing adversarial relationship with his father. Richard Roxburgh makes a convincing cave expert as his father Frank. I think the fact that he's not a recognizable face makes him a much more convincing character. They're well supported by Ioan Gruffudd as Carl, Alice Parkinson as Victoria, and Dan Wyllie as Crazy George.

I think if you're a fan of survival stories or cave diving, then "Sanctum" is definitely a movie you'll want to check out. And if you're a fan of James Cameron, you'll want to see it, too, because his fingerprints are all over it as an executive producer (and the Blu-ray cover, too, for that matter).

Initially the bonus features look pretty slim, but when you dive into them (pun intended), you discover a lot more than you expect. "Sanctum: The Real Story" is a 'making of' documentary. It details the original caving accident that producer/writer Andrew Wight experienced that was the inspiration for the film. They also discuss how they created the cave sets for the movie in Australia. Seeing the creations made out of concrete and flooded in tanks is quite impressive. It's a cool artistic and engineering feat. Also included are some deleted scenes as well as a feature commentary. Rounding out the bonus features is "Nullabor Dreaming," a documentary by Andrew Wight from the 1980s detailing the caving incident that inspired this movie. You're technically buying two movies on one disc when you buy this Blu-ray.

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