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Sanctum Review

Deepa Garimella /
Can watch again
Good for kids
Good for dates
Wait for OTT
Ever wanted to be stuck in a wet, smelly, dark cellar with a bunch of people whose conversation you don't understand and doesn't interest you? No? What about if you were given 3D glasses? No? Aww.

Sanctum is a survival tale based on a real life story in one of Earth's most treacherous underwater caves, and has James Cameron's name associated with it. What obviously sounds like an exhilarating adventure turns out to be a tired, tiresome outing that's about as much fun as sitting in a cramped seat for two hours.

Basically, the film describes a deep-diving expedition that is trapped in the interiors of Esa-ala, one of the deepest darkest places in the South Pacific, where no human has ever gone before. A raging storm above has made it impossible for them to get out onto the surface from where they started, so they must battle narrow passages, dangerous stalactites and furious waters to move ahead. Add to this, the responsibility of killing whoever is hurt and can't be helped along, for the expedition to move on.

The characters include Frank (Richard Roxburgh), who we are told is the world's best cave explorer, and his troubled but supremely talented 20-something son Josh. The two of them have issues with each other because the former has never been a "good father" to his kid, so this unsavoury subterranean adventure gives them some scope to diffuse the tension between them.

Not that you care about the family drama, but this father-son pair is a much more fleshed-out set of characters than the others, whose emotions you never understand. Tempers fly, pep talks are thrown about and fatal errors break spirits, but to the audience none of the happenings really rises above being irritants.

Plus, there's no adrenaline rush to be felt in the group's little victories. As for the final moment when the camera shows us the light of the day on the ocean's surface, all it brings you is relief that it's over - for you.

The dialogue is incoherent, and the screenplay is as obscure and murky as the cave the adventurers are trying to make sense of. The acting jobs all look half-hearted, but there is nothing for the actors to in the first place.

And what was the point of all the 3D technology anyway? There's nothing to marvel at in terms of the visuals - especially if you expected stunning shots of deep dark underwater blues like on NatGeo or Discovery. With plenty of cave walls and gushing dirty rainwater, this one is a pretty claustrophobic watch, made all the more inconvenient with 3D glasses on. You sure are better off watching this on a normal screen.

Avoid Sanctum unless you're particularly keen on watching a bad movie this week.
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Sanctum (english) reviews
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  • Cast
    Richard Roxburgh, Ioan Gruffudd, Rhys Wakefield, Alice Parkinson, Dan Wyllie
  • Music
    David Hirschfelder
  • Director
    Alister Grierson
  • Theatres
    Not screening currently in any theatres in Hyderabad.
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