- 11 Feb 11
Sanctum 3D Ironically Proves To Be Completely One Dimensional
With James Cameron as its executive producer and the 3D photography techniques of Avatar, hopes were high that Alister Grierson’s cave-diving adventure Sanctum 3D would be an exciting update of Cameron’s The Abyss. And Sanctum 3D is indeed visually impressive. Eschewing gimmicky uses of the format, it instead heightens the claustrophobic nature of the caves to an unnerving degree. But as we sadly learned from Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp’s collaboration in The Tourist, a film can look damn good but still prove completely unwatchable.
Richard Roxburgh plays Frank, the irascible leader of a cave-diving team exploring the world’s oldest and deepest cave system, just so playboy financier Ioan Gruffudd can fulfil his dream of naming a cave after himself. One is reminded of Anna Kendrick’s observation in Up in the Air that “men get such hard-ons from putting their names on things. You guys don’t grow up. It’s like you need to pee on everything”.
That quote also sums up the extent of the characterisation in Sanctum 3D, which has an immature thread of misogyny running through it. Comments such as “tighter than a nun’s nasty” constitute half of the appalling machismo-laden script, while the two female characters are unbelievably helpless and irrational for supposed climbing professionals. Coupled with Frank’s borderline sociopathic ‘survival of the fittest’ philosophy and his son Rhys Wakefield’s bland sulkiness, there’s not one likeable character to care about when things go wrong.
And go wrong they do. When a cyclone sends cascades of water into the caves and blocks their exit, the team must navigate their way through the unexplored caverns, where innumerable drownings, gruesome injuries and melodramatic scraps all add up to a relentless tedium. There’s a touch of David R. Ellis about the plot, but instead of snakes, snakes, endless snakes on a plane, it’s just caves, caves, endless accidents in caves.