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This is Jeff Bayer, and I don't update this site very often. If you'd like to listen to my current movie podcast you can find it at MovieBS.com.

Sanctum

Sanctum Directed by: Alister Grierson Cast: Rhys Wakefield, Richard Roxburgh, Ioan Gruffudd, Alice Parkinson Running Time: 1 hr 46 mins Rating: R Release Date: February 4, 2011

complete SANCTUM coverage

PLOT: An underwater cave diving team go exploring through undiscovered Earth. When a storm hits, and the cave starts to flood, they must survive and try to find another way out.

WHO'S IT FOR? Explorers will finally feel like they have their movie, especially with the 3D.

EXPECTATIONS: James Cameron's name is all over this project ... as an executive producer. That's a huge different than director. The cast is pretty much unknown, so I wasn't excited to see anybody. I even watched a preview, but the whole time I was trying to figure out why in the world this movie was rated R.

SCORECARD (0-10)

ACTORS: Rhys Wakefield as Josh: This teenager (I think) gets dragged along on the adventure of a lifetime every single summer. His response? Complaining. He mopes and yells at his dad, because his dad expects him to do some work. Look, if we're supposed to be rooting for Josh, and I think we are, then why not make him nervous/afraid, but wanting to overcome obstacles? Hell, give him a fear of water, but keep the thing about him being a great climber. Doesn't that make the scene where he is stuck underwater more exciting? Wakefield has an awe shucks quality about him, but it never felt like he seized the moment and owned the screen. Score: 5

Richard Roxburgh as Frank: Man, I liked this guy. Almost everyone in this film, accept for George (Dan Wyllie) thinks Frank is an asshole. I just think he's the best of the best and the only guy I would listen to in a situation where death is on the line. Guess who this actor is? Does he look familiar? It's The Duke from Moulin Rouge!. Crazy, huh? Roxburgh gets this part right and is really the only one that is worth watching. Score: 8

Ioan Gruffudd as Carl: It's the annoying rich guy. Why did we have to have him here? He's absolutely filled with clich├ęs. Rich, pompous and a guy who would steal your last breath at any point. Plus, he's spineless. In a film that seems to want to create some realism with this cave flooding thing, the character of Carl just doesn't belong. He wasn't fun enough to root against and he just ended up getting in the way of this action flick. Score: 4

TALKING: "I'm not wearing a dead woman's wet suit." Well, Victoria (Alice Parkinson) that could be a problem for you. That's just one of the over obvious moments this script allows. It's stunted dialogue that gives every their turn to speak, like you've got to be holding the conch shell to talk. There's just no flow to it. Also, the Australian accents that most characters have does make some of the dialogue tough to follow. The reason this movie is rated R? The language. For no good reason F-bombs are thrown in there. Score: 4

SIGHTS: While the action does feel kind of slow, the movie looks good. I don't know if you heard, but James Cameron is the executive producer and the same 3D technology that made Avatar also is used in Sanctum. I hope you read that last sentence with the appropriate amount of sarcasm. The 3D does add depth to all of those underwater moments. The movie would definitely be lessened in 2D. It gives you the feeling of being in the cave or the water. I thought they could have pushed more with the claustrophobic vibe though. Also, if you have a problem with people drowning do not see this movie. Score: 8

SOUNDS: At first it seemed the background music would stay in the background where it belonged, but then it wanted to piss all over the place right before the necessary emotion is felt. You should be allowed to have a feeling, and then have the music add to that moment. Not the other way around. Score: 5

PLOT SPOILERS

BEST SCENE: Upside down swimming/breathing. I could have watched this for 30 minutes. It gives me chills just thinking about it. Plus, it's the one thing I felt like I was learning, you know, for when I'm stuck in an underwater cave.

ENDING: You'll be surprised with how some people die, but not exactly who dies.

QUESTIONS: Um, why did you have to drown so many people? And did I see this correctly? Was someone's skull coming off?

REWATCHABILITY: 3D is the only way to see this movie and I wouldn't pay that price. Plus, the slow pace might really be felt with a second viewing.

OVERALL

It's like two guys worked on this movie and they never consulted with the other one. ACTION GUY: We need this action movie to be realistic. DIALOGUE GUY: We need stereotypes, like a father/son hate thing and a rich guy who's like, "Give me that, I'm rich." AG: I refuse to make one big action sequence that will wow the audience. That wouldn't happen in real life. We're going subtle and slow. That's how I like my action. DG: If someone is going to die, they have to say something obvious like, "I'm not sure I should do this dive," or "You go up ahead, I'll be fine." AG: If anybody dies, it's from drowning. Even if they are already dying, let's drown them anyway. DG: Um, that's kind of weird, but I can use that for cheesy dialogue moments.

The big, basic dialogue doesn't match with the slow, realistic escape. Also, there is no good reason to make this movie rated R. That's a simple marketing mistake, and I'm normally the guy who loves getting dirty with an R-rating. I would have loved a bigger name in the cast. Maybe they could have pulled off the melodrama, and helped out Roxburgh. You won't feel trapped watching Sanctum, there will be some fun, but it feels like there could have been much more.

FINAL SCORE: 6/10

Box Office Challenge: 'The Roommate' 'The Rite' and 'Sanctum'

Jake's Takes: 'Sanctum' interviews with James Cameron, Richard Roxburgh, Ioan Gruffudd, Rhys Wakefield and Alice Parkinson