The plots of most disaster movies are littered with four little words: “It just so happens”. It always just so happens that everything works just the right way to make the disaster the absolute worst it could be. Even when it’s based on true events, “it just so happens” seems to plague these films like shaky cameras plague action films.
Sanctum is about Josh, played by Ryhs Wakefield, who just so happens to be the son of the world’s greatest modern explorer Frank, played by Richard Roxburgh. Frank just so happens to be exploring the world’s biggest unexplored cave.
It just so happens that, on the same day the expedition’s main financial backer comes to visit, a big storm just so happens to get unexpectedly bad. It just so happens that the storm traps the eccentric millionaire named Carl, played by Ioan Gruffudd, and his girlfriend, who has no experience with caves or scuba diving, in the big old cave. It also just so happens that they’re trapped with a guy who, for some reason, just so happens to be too sick to be down there. The characters then commence having a most tragic death contest while trying to escape the cave.
The plot is simply a flimsy excuse to get a bunch of people into the cave. There’s some on-going story about how Frank and Josh don’t get along, but it’s the clichéd thing about the father overly obsessed with something and the son not wanting anything to do with it, but it reeks of overdone. None of the other characters have enough personality or interest to merit more than a first glance.
Even the death scenes are pretty uninteresting. A lot of the cave is under water so drowning is the preferred way to go, but after the first time they just get overdone. It’s pretty sad when a disaster movie can’t even get people dying right.
What they did get right though was the 3D. Most 3D movies are not worth the extra $3, but Sanctum actually pulls it off by having things worth seeing in 3D. Massive underground caverns look incredible in 3D and the underwater scuba diving cave pieces are just extraordinary. The big spaces and water aside, most of the caves look like they open up to the sky with the amount of light splashed around. It seems to be that if one flashlight is on then it can light up an entire area at once, and while it helps to see the boring characters, it ruins the atmosphere.
Sanctum is what 3D is all about; it’s just too bad it doesn’t have what movies are all about.
Sanctum is rated R for language and lots of lame death scenes.