"Sanctum" is a thriller produced by James Cameron ("Avatar") and directed by Alister Grierson ("Kokoda"). The film stars Rhys Wakefield ("Broken Hill") as the main character, Josh. Richard Roxburgh ("Van Helsing") plays his father, Frank. Ioan Gruffudd ("Fantastic Four") plays Carl, a family friend and Frank’s employer and Alice Parkinson ("Where the Wild Things Are") plays Victoria, Carl’s fiance. The film revolves around these four characters attempting to survive and escape the flooding caves. It’s a shame that it fails to capture the suspense necessary to make the movie compelling.
In order to make this kind of movie work, the characters need to be likable, and unfortunately they’re not. Josh acts like a bratty, whiny, selfish child, even though he’s supposed to be in his 20s. Carl is only there to make sure his investment in exploring the cave is worthwhile, so even when the group is running out of food and air, he keeps talking about exploring the caves "while they’re down there." Victoria is an annoyance who serves no purpose to the movie as a whole and might as well not even be there. The only likable character is Josh’s father, Frank, who actually seems to be the sole person in the entire group who wants to survive. Yet, all of the characters keep challenging him and disagreeing with him even though he knows what he’s doing.
The story is also kind of dull. With this genre of movie, it is assumed that most of the cast is going to die. It is only a matter of how and when. There are no surprises, twists or turns and even more upsetting, no attempt to enthrall the audience in any way, shape or form. The movie as a whole just seems like some sort of pointless extra film that was released to capitalize on James Cameron’s name and the success of 2009’s "Avatar," as well as continue to milk the growing trend of 3D.
If there is one good thing about the movie, it’s that it looks very nice. The cinematography is absolutely stunning to look at, especially when it shows the expansiveness of the cave. When they actually get trapped in the cave, it captures a sense of claustrophobia and that there is no way of escaping. Unfortunately, the cinematography isn’t good enough to carry the entire film. No matter how well the film is shot, the characters and story are too frustrating and uninteresting, respectively. Just because James Cameron’s name is slapped on the poster, doesn’t mean the movie is good.