By Sean Kelly
It can be forgiven if anyone had the mistaken impression that this film was James Cameron’s directorial follow-up to Avatar. Nearly every ad I’ve seen for the film has started with, “from James Cameron, creator of Titanic and Avatar.” I suppose this isn’t the first time a film has been sold on the executive producer’s name – Steven Spielberg and George Lucas being the prime examples. Here, the greatest contribution Cameron made to the film was the use of his 3D camera technology, which probably still creates the most state-of-the-art 3D effects available.
The premise of this film recalls James Cameron’s post-Titanic days, in which he took a break from feature filmmaking to direct a series of 3D underwater IMAX documentaries, such as Ghosts of the Abyss and Monsters of the Deep. Sanctum deals with a team of cave explorers, who are trapped in “the largest unexplored cave system” after a hurricane floods their way out. The film is based on the true story of co-writer Andrew Wright.
The film features a mostly unknown cast of primarily Australian actors, with the only familiar faces being Richard Roxburgh (Moulin Rouge, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and Ioan Gruffud (Fantastic Four). Roxburgh portrays Frank, the leader of the team trapped in the cave. One of the major story threads of the film has him slowly gaining the acceptance of his estranged son Josh (Rhys Wakefield). Gruffud plays the American financier of the expedition and, without giving away too much, is the closest the film has to an antagonist.
To be completely honest, if the film didn’t have James Cameron’s name attached to it, this would be a fairly standard adventure film that most people would have probably waited to see on DVD. I must say the 3D was well done and helped to establish depth within the caves. As for the story, this type of “survive at all costs” tale has already been run through before and by a certain point I had an idea how it was all going to turn out.
Overall, while I don’t think this film will truly please the James Cameron fans awaiting a follow-up to Avatar, I thought this was a fairly decent adventure film and I enjoyed it.