13 October 2011

Movies: Sanctum

Sanctum (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0881320/

Drama/thriller loosely based on a real-life experience

James Cameron's Sanctum is about some cave divers that run into some trouble when a tropical storm turns into a cyclone and floods the cave system before they can get out. Loosely based on the experiences of cave diver and co-writer of the film.

The film has its moments. Some thrilling moments, some neat stunts, decent bloody makeup when the events call for it. However, the first 30 minutes of the film almost landed it in the "I don't care if I finish the film" category. But we stuck it out. Overall the film is okay, some of the later scenes in the film make up for the first 30 mins.

My issues with the first 30 minutes stemmed from the terrible decisions made by this seemingly most experienced best-in-the-world cave diving team. For example, they knew the tropical storm was headed straight for them and might hit cyclone status, yet instead of pulling out until it blows over they didn't pay it any mind until the cave started making weird noises. Of course it was too late by then. Another was a life-threatening decision by a very experienced team member that was compounded by another life threatening decision that just happened to pay off - that is, paid off in the 'life extinguished' column. All in the first 30 minutes. I thought, "no wonder it goes so bad for them all, they make the obviously worst choices right out of the gate."
There was that, the father-son conflict that is predictable in how it plays out, the dialog that at times seems unnatural, a few weird cuts concluding events we didn't know even started.

I dunno. For me it there were some ways it just seemed like one of the sloppiest films with Cameron's name on it in a very long time.  Not technically, just in the dialog and character interactions. Technically the film was fine for the most part. There were a couple technical things that stood out, though. I thought the caves looked a little manufactured because the colors seemed too uniform, but the wife disagrees with me on that point. I also had to chuckle when a scene showing a helicopter fly low over a river resulted in zero rotor wash disturbing the surface of the water. Obviously the helicopter was inserted digitally. That's a mistake right out of Mega-Python vs. Gatoriod's production playbook.

All in all, the film is okay, has its good moments and good thrills. But it didn't do much to make me want to keep watching it early on. I didn't exactly regret finishing the film, but wasn't exactly jazzed about it either.

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