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MOVIE REVIEW: Sanctum

Rhys Wakefield as Josh McGuire in "Sanctum."

Rhys Wakefield as Josh McGuire in "Sanctum."

  • Rhys Wakefield as Josh McGuire in "Sanctum."
  • Sanctum
  • Rhys Wakefield as Josh McGuire in "Sanctum."
  • Richard Roxburgh as Frank McGuire in "Sanctum."
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So, here’s the story. A bunch of cave divers know a storm is coming, but somehow it catches them off guard.

A father and son aren’t getting along (the dad is played well by Richard Roxburgh). There’s one couple that talks about getting married someday, and various other divers that are like those Star Trek characters you’ve never seen before, but know they’ll disappear as soon as they land on the strange planet.

I remember seeingThe Abyssin the theatres, and my two friends had the biggest argument about the James Cameron film. One hated it, and one loved it. I was somewhere in between.

Sanctumreminded me of it, if you throw in127 Hoursand take away the aliens. I’m wondering if I was the only one in the audience expecting aliens to show up in the movie. The cave had a look like a spaceship used it to land and make crop circles or something. That might’ve made for a more interesting picture.

And although Danny Boyle tried a little too hard to make127 Hoursa fast-paced exciting film, it was good. This movie, aside from a few interesting 3-D scenes, wasn’t.

Cameron merely produced the picture, and rumor has it he let them borrow his niftyAvatarandGhosts of the Abysscameras.

In the beginning of the movie, the 3-D actually distracts from the characters at the camp site. When they start going down into the cave, the 3-D adds a lot, and the visuals and gorgeous photography is fun.

Once they’re trapped in water and pouring rain … I was back to wondering what the 3-D added.

The lines written for the actors are awful. The way they read their lines is even worse. It reminded me of an adventure film you’d see in the early '60s or '70s.

Andrew Wight was a documentary filmmaker, and this is his baby. I’m guessing had he made a documentary about cave diving, it would’ve been a great hour long Imax movie. Instead, we have these cookie-cutter clichéd characters that are so corny and hard to like.

Movie studios need to stop saying films are “based on real events,” as the real event Wight based this on was a storm that trapped 15 cave divers that all survived. I’m guessing they all got along, too.When you want to make a movie about the miners trapped in Chile, fine – say it’s based on a real event. Everyone else – stop saying it when it’s not really true.

Someone also needs to explain to me when it’s appropriate to kill someone that is probably going to die. In this movie, they sure were quick to do it.“What’s that? You stubbed your toe on that rock. Let me take a look. Oh, there’s not going to be a rescue down here. They probably assumed we’re all dead. This toe is going to get infected and you’ll eventually die. Therefore, I will dunk your head under the water while you fight for your life.”Okay, that scene never took place, but it’s not far off.

This movie was shot off Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, and parts of it are beautiful to look at. It’s just a shame that a treacherous expedition couldn’t keep me more on the edge of my seat, or that water gushing at people in 3-D didn’t make you squirm in your seat.

It’s an uneven film, a pedestrian script of a tired premise. James Cameron needs to back up and keep away from the water.

I was at a party at his mansion in Malibu once, and he snuck a few of us into his private movie theatre to watch scenes for a film he made about the Bismarck. After an hour of him talking about all these ship rescues and cutting-edge cameras he created … I wanted to scream “Enough! I’m going back out to the party to drink your booze and eat that great food you had catered. I don’t care about all this underwater technology and cameras you’re inventing.”

If the movies are good, I’ll go back to caring. I loved Avatar, and even though Titanic seemed to be written for 15-year-old girls, I enjoyed it well enough.

I’m giving this movie a D.