Sunday, 1 January 2012

Film Review: SANCTUM (2011)

Sanctum - poster Co-Writer/Director: Alister Grierson
Writers: Andrew Wight (Story/Screenplay) & John Garvin (Screenplay)
Running time: 108 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama
UK Release date: 4th February 2011

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 1st January 2012.


Having been produced by James Cameron and being the first release with his name attached after Avatar (2009), this film gained a lot of notoriety on release. Not least, I suspect, because it hit the screens in 3D. It wasn’t all that well received as I recall, but I thought I’d give it a viewing anyway… in the proper number of dimensions (2D) by the way. I’m sorry to say the critics were right; like many films of its type, it relies far too much on sensationalism and big effects to have any emotional impact on the audience. I will give you more of my thoughts after this brief summary.

Sanctum - 2 A group of cavers led by veteran Frank are exploring an extensive cave system when they are trapped by a storm. Frank’s son, Josh, the expedition’s financer, Carl, his girlfriend, Victoria and a character known as Crazy George find their only way out is to follow the river to the sea. This unexplored route will involve a lot of cave diving, one of the most dangerous sports in the world, but they have no option. The caves are filling up with water from the storm fast and they must find a way out quickly. Can they make it to safety, or will they succumb to the caves? Well, I can’t tell you here or the Spoiler Police will be cutting the rope that’s holding be above the abyss below.

Sanctum - 3 Very well made with some excellent action sequences; I particularly liked the underwater photography. The music, by David Hirschfelder, was also pretty good. As far as performances go, well, everybody did a competent enough job despite a pretty dire script (IMO). So honourable mentions must go to; Richard Roxburgh as Frank, Ioan Gruffudd as Carl, Rhys Wakefield as Josh, Alice Parkinson as Victoria and Dan Wyllie as Crazy George.

Sanctum - 4 Whilst watching this film I was put very much in mind of the 2000 release, Vertical Limit, another one that just failed to hit the mark (IMO). I think the problem is that none of the characters had any emotional depth and as such I found it quite hard to care much about them at all. Consequently, when they are in peril, which happens quite a lot as you can imagine, it loses a lot of the impact it might have had otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, the mechanics are all there and it’s all expertly filmed, but I still didn’t have the emotional connection I thought I should have. And so in conclusion, it’s technically excellent but lacking the depth a story like this should have… Sadly; not recommended.

Sanctum - 1 My score: 6.0/10

IMDb Score: 5.7/10 (based on 20,361 votes at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 30/100 (based on 157 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 39/100 (based on 34,513 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:

Dex: [about Victoria's skills in mocking Russian accent] She's strong like bull, smart like tractor.

Dex: Josh is his own man. He doesn't take after his dad much.
Josh: What, you mean I'm not an emotional shutdown Nazi asshole?

Carl: [Talking about Frank] His ass is so tight that only dogs can hear him when he farts.

Victoria: [rejecting ill-fitting diving suit] I'd rather be cold and alive than warm and dead.

Sanctum - 6 LINKS:
Official Site:

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