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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The title of this excellent film is particularly well chosen, as "sanctum" means a secret place known only to few people and also a sacred or holy area. This film tells the story of a group of people who are forced by circumstances to enter such a place - and then try desperately to find a way out... This review contains some limited SPOILERS.

Produced by James Cameron this film contains some elements which remind of his own films: masterful use of lights and shadows, a predisposition for blue and gray, some very dramatic fast happening scenes. It was however directed by an Australian director, Alister Grierson, who made only one film before, "Kokoda" (a rather good war movie). With the exception of Ioan Gruffudd actors were unknown to me, but they all did an excellent job.

The story is relatively simple. A group of cave-divers is slowly and methodically exploring and mapping a HUGE complex of partially inundated caves in New Guinea. An unexpected development will force them to explore this place in depth (pun very much intentional) and on the double, taking enormous risks - and I am not saying anything more.

This film has absolutely NO supernatural elements - do not expect monsters, mysterious forces, etc. Everything is realistic, sometimes inspired by real problems met by speleologists and cave-divers in the real life - even if the accumulation of all those events during just one expedition is of course rather unlikely, but after all this is an adventure film...

The atmosphere of the place of action is absolutely unique. There are moments when I really had the impression that heroes entered a kind of grandiose heathen temple, immensely ancient and so holy that it was never meant to be seen by humans. And indeed, at moments there seems that there is a HIGH price to pay for discovering secrets and splendors which were not really meant for us. It can almost seem that those who entered there were not meant to leave - and this chtonic "inner sanctum" will show great reluctance to release those who violated its peace...

There are many excellent scenes in this film but none so tense and moving as the great finale, an absolutely unique thing different from anything else I saw on the screen. I was absolutely delighted with this film both in cinema and on Blu-ray (I warmly recommend to buy Blu-ray, as the visual aspect is important) and I am absolutely keeping it to re-watch it another time in the future. Enjoy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Josh McGuire welcomes his friend Carl and his girlfriend Victoria in Papua, New Guinea, and they immediately fly to the Esa-ala Caves where Josh's father Frank McGuire is heading a cave diving expedition.

Josh has a bitter relationship with his father and Carl is the sponsor of the expedition.

When Frank and the diver Judes explore an unknown cave system with a restricted access, Judes has an accident and dies.

When the team is preparing to hoist her body, there is a storm that blocks the exit from the cave.

The group is trapped with few supplies and has to find a way out to the sea through the labyrinth of the cave system. But fear and panic are their greatest enemies...

It's not the best film to watch in 2D.

Sometimes its blatantly obvious where the crew shot the 3D that it becomes rather annoying.

And thats the gimmick of the film, 3D.

watch the film standalone, and you basically have a very depressing Poseidon adventure, minus the guest stars and the fun.

The cast do what they have to do, but the audience can only take so many death by drowning incidents, and sacrifices.

The visuals are stunning, and they kind of make up for the lack of script, and predictable lines.

Roxburgh gives his best Batman voice as the guy who has done it all. The rest of the cast are just fodder, and you'll find yourself longing for the fast forward button.

Good to look at, painful to hear.
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2011
I bought this because I was out of the country when it went on general release, and 2 weeks later I couldn't find a cinema within 100 miles that was still showing it, never mind the 3D version.

I'm a caver. I've caved all over the world (though sadly not in PNG, yet...). I've even been on a couple of expeditions.

What did this film get right? The location, for a start. Thick limestone + lots of water = big caves as several expediations to Borneo & China have shown in recent years. PNG was as good a place as any to base the story. Do you really get sinkholes as big/deep as that in the film? Yes, you do. 500 m deep and maybe half that across would not be uncommon. You wouldn't ordinarily parachute into sinkholes - the proximity of the rock walls and uncertain air currents would make that extraordinarily risky (though there are people that have base jumped into las Golondrinas in Mexico). Abseiling (rapelling for North American readers) on ropes is the usual method as was shown. The gear the team were wearing was pretty authentic, as was the gear they used. Modern rebreather diving technology is extraordinary; the world record for a cave dive was set last year in Pozo Azul in Spain: 8.8 km and 50 hours in water of 11C. So the basis for the film was pretty sound too. The 'passion' for caving shown by the lead explorer was also authentic. The lure of virgin discovery is extraordinarily strong.

So where did the film go wrong? Well, I've yet to hear of a caving expedition with anything like the level of resources portrayed in the film! Caving expeditions - even those on which National Geographic participates - are generally run on a shoestring. And as for running electric power down a few km of cave passge to the dive base...

Overall the film is a bit of an underground Posideon Aventure. The storyline is a bit predictable, the acting is a bit wooden, and the gory ending is unnecessary (in my view). But if you've never been down a cave, sit back and admire the majesty of the underground environment. There are bits that are CGI for sure, but there is also a lot that is real. Real caves are remarkably hostile places to take simple cameras (damp, grit, cold,...), never mind cinematography equipment. And filming cave diving is almost as logistically complex as sending a man to the moon. In fact, more human beings have been to the moon than have penetrated some of the deepest caves on planet Earth!
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 15 June 2011
SANCTUM is a 2011 australian adventure film directed by Alister Grierson and starring Richard Roxburgh and Rhys Wakefield. What a brilliant film! I was utterly gripped all the way through. I love these kind of films as they make me shiver as the scenes are unbearably intense! The actors were chosen well. I was very impressed and thought everyone did wonderfully. Best of all was the photography. WOW! The setting of the forest, the ocean and the dark cave itself was magnificently beautiful. There were also moments of dark humour that i thought worked well with the story.

Frank McGuire is an underwater diver expert who has been on countless explorations. This is his greatest yet! With his son Josh and his crew members, they dive deep into the carvornous cave, unaware that there exciting dive into a new world will become a terrifying nightmare that slowly picks them off one by one. They also have a deadline, as the cyclone raging avove will flood the cave. Trapped. And the only way out is down!

Can i just say, SANCTUM is not for the faint hearted. There are some pretty grusesome deaths and this film builds up to a tear-jerking climax. But as long as you dont get too worked up over these things, you'll be fine! Definately worth watching if you like tension, lots of peril and a great storyline! 10/10!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The film, based on a true event. is brought to the screen by 'James Cameron' and portrays the intensity of the fight for survival.
A team of cavers/divers led by 'Frank Mcguire' (Richard Roxburgh) become trapped during a cyclone which threatens to flood the caves chambers.
The only option they have is to find another way out because the way they had entered has become impossible.
'Frank' believes by following the river underground it will lead them to the ocean and safety.........................it's a difficult journey that is destined to take it's toll on the team.
ok...it's not 'avatar' or 'titanic' but it is an intense journey during which a son 'Josh' (Rhys Wakefield) learns to understand a father that has allways held his son at arms length.........well worth taking time out to watch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Much was made during the publicity and promotion for Sanctum of James Cameron’s name being attached, understandably so. Sanctum is what it is, a glossy exercise in 3D film making, a disaster movie awash with clichés and contrivances, a picture that’s narrative drive comes from following a well worn formula in this particular sphere of genre film making. Is it fun? Thrilling? Oh absolutely! The effects work is super at times, the scenery equally so, whilst some of the set pieces are dynamite. If you can get past the cheese and cliché buffet bar then there’s a whole bunch of tasty treats to be sampled down in those dark and dingy cave formations…

It’s directed by Alister Grierson but in truth this is a Cameron movie, and with that comes the fact that it’s the best and worst of Cameron. Take that as you will… 6.5/10
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2011
To put simply, it was an amazing film with fantastic scenery. Great actors and really well acted. Lots of tension too. Was topped off with the 3D, characters and all the scenery came out the screen. I would certainly recommend it! 5*
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 March 2013
I looked this up and the only similarity to the events that happened in 1988 is the cyclone and the cave flooding. 23 people went down the cave, 11 ended up being blocked in the cave as in the film. All 23 people survived.

Interesting fact about the first lady who dies in the film. She died in real life in a similar accident shortly after the film.

About the film.

Nicely captured.

3d was good.

Story line! o dear, if this lot had escaped not the real world they would all be behind bars for murder. The story was weak.

For reasons unknown why didn't they mark the 3d disc as blu ray 3d. Both Blu ray disks are marked Blu Ray. It was only after trying the 2nd blu ray disc did the title come up as Sanctum 3D. WHY????
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2011
This is only the third 3D Blu ray that I have watched on my new 3D Tv. It was brilliant, it was spectacular and at times I thought there was water dripping from the living room ceiling! For some reason the 3D disc didnt actually have "3D Blu-Ray" printed on it like other 3D blu-rays, but none the less I managed to find the right disc and really enjoyed it. Gripping movie that makes good use of the 3D. I was also pleased that this movie was available from Amazon as I haven't seen it in 3d in any of the shops.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 30 July 2011
I cannot believe this was inspired by a true story. The dialog was hokey and we know that standard formula of the mixed personalities. People always get bumped off in onesies and towsises. The “monster in the cave” movies are much better. At least people get eaten. I watched to the end to see if there would be a survivor that may get eaten by cannibals.

The dialog was well less than stellar. The photography was adequate. The characters would never be let out of the institute let alone in the water.

However the fast forward button worked great.
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