Sanctum – 1 Stalagmite
by Cali Tamayo
‘Based on a true story’ is quickly becoming the most overused tag of legitimacy of any production these days. Loosely (and I use this word the way I wear my negligees, very loosely) based on producer Andrew Wight’s personal experience with a cave expedition in Australia where noone died, Sanctum is being billed as a ‘3D epic underwater adventure from 3-time Academy Award winning Executive Producer James Cameron.’ Which really means that it’s good to have friends — but it’s best to be friends with James Cameron.
Cameron is very good friends with Wight, who also wrote the story, and who has produced all of Cameron’s 3D Imax films and television specials. I also hear they are diving buddies. These kids are tight. But let me warn you that the comparisons to any real or imagined Cameron work need to be left at home. This is no Titanic…unless you think that surrounding a cast with water coming from all sides reminds you of Titanic…
This movies tells the story of a team of underwater cave divers who are hell bent on being the first ones to ‘colonize’ this cave in Papua New Guinea (shot mostly on location in Australia), the last unconquered cave in the world…’where noone has shone a light before…’ Now you see where the script is taking you…
Vapid billionare financier Carl (Ioan Gruffudd) is underwriting this expedition led by master diver Frank (the always fascinating to watch Richard Roxburgh, who has nicely taken up weightlifting) whose work gets cut off by a monster storm. I don’t know you but common sense dictates that hurricanes and storm are a pretty telling sign that you better get out of nature’s way… but these guys are hardcore. A flash flood closes the main exit, which is our sign that a tragedy is about to happen and that our trapped little Indians need to figure out this riddle or die… and since suspense is the first victim of this aquepic, you just know that these folks are on an express lane to meet their creator.
Our trapped excavators include Frank’s teenage son (Rhys Wakefield), Carl’s obnoxious girlfriend Victoria (Alice Parkinson) and unused Australian actor Dan Wyllie as Crazy George. The real story is that father and son are not too tight and there is constant tension between the two. Apparently the kid has never forgiven the dad for preferring the cave over the family. So clearly there’s nothing better to fix family relations than being trapped in a cave and facing death in the eye…The characters are such caricatures that with the exception of Frank, you are actually ready to see them go when their turn is up.
While watching this every uneven film, I was very relieved that on top of everything else going on, I did not have to worry about a prehistoric piranha or Alien lurking underwater …althought having to watch the movie on 3D did feel like a nightmare, especially at the beginning. Bright, sunny shots just don’t w