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Sanctum

3.7 out of 5 stars 224 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

From executive producer James Cameron (Avatar) comes a thrilling underwater adventure based on true events. Master diver Frank McGuire leads a team—including his 17-year-old son—to explore the largest, most beautiful and least accessible cave system on Earth. But when a tropical storm cuts off their only escape route, the team must work together to find their way through an uncharted and dangerous underwater labyrinth to make it out alive. With time running out, can they survive, or will they be trapped forever?

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If there's an undersea adventure with high-tech equipment, macho posturing, and lots of underwater photography, you know James Cameron must be swimming around the vicinity. Add the fact that Sanctum was released to theaters in 3-D, and it's clinched. Cameron served as executive producer to this crazy tale of a cave-diving expedition forced to improvise when a typhoon inundates their New Guinea location. (The film, shot in Australia, is allegedly based on a true event by co-screenwriter Andrew Wight, but it might be safe to conclude that the original incident was a jumping-off point for the high melodrama on display here.) A globetrotting billionaire (Ioan Gruffudd, of Fantastic Four) is underwriting this exploration of a hidden cave maze, which explains why he gets to bring his girlfriend (Alice Parkinson) along. As a measure of their thrill-seeking habits, we are told they met on an Everest climb. The cave-diving boss is a crusty old pro (Richard Roxburgh), who is rough on his underlings and even rougher on his teenage son (Rhys Wakefield); naturally, the cataclysm that follows will be an occasion for some extreme father-son fence mending. As cornball as these elements are, and as generally toneless as director Alister Grierson's ear is with the dialogue scenes, Sanctum does work up some bona fide thrills: the sheer power of water is unleashed at a few memorable spots, as is the panic of losing an oxygen tank at a crucial moment. It's also pretty brutal, with a steep body count and a few grotesque bits of bodily injury. It ought to be easy to dismiss Sanctum as a silly piece of boy's adventure, but--curse you, Cameron!--one must admit that the thing is awfully effective. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Sanctum: The Real Story
  • Feature Commentary with Director Alister Grierson, Actor Rhys Wakefield, and Co-Writer/Producer Andrew Wight

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Richard Roxburgh, Alice Parkinson
    • Directors: Alister Grierson
    • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
    • Subtitles: English, Spanish
    • Dubbed: Spanish
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated: R (Restricted)
    • Studio: Rogue Pictures
    • DVD Release Date: June 7, 2011
    • Run Time: 109 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B003Y5H51K
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,750 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Sanctum" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
    Although some people called this movie crap I just can't imagine why. I even hesitated on purchasing this due to the reviews. Maybe they did not see the 3D version? This movie in 3D is the highest quality 3D I've seen - wow ever actually! It beats all these 3D movies - Avatar, Thor, Narnia, etc. The quality of the 3D has the birds flying out of your TV and the water flowing from your TV.. truly amazing! I thought the story was right on, they did what they had to do to survive. I'm a certified scuba diver and trust me, they followed all the protocols of survival. It was crazy to buddy breathe with a full facemask, that was a desperate attempt for survival for sure, but in the end the outcome was spot on. Great show thru & thru. I even watched it back to back because the 3D graphics were so good I wanted to take it all in again! EXCELLENT choice, great movie!
    Comment 40 of 42 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    Based on a real life, near death caving experience, Sanctum is a thriller that squeezes claustrophobic audiences into tight, dark spaces, and forces all viewers to imagine and evaluate their personal fortitude if put in a precarious situation.

    Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh), a professional cave diver compared to Jacques Cousteau and Neil Armstrong, is on a caving/cave-diving expedition with his highly trained team and his mercurial son Josh (Rhys Wakefield). Exploring the Esaala Caves in Papua New Guinea, the team has to traverse thousands of meters of virgin caves in order to ultimately find a connection to the sea. The eccentric financier, Carl (Ioan Gruffudd), with experience sky diving, caving, and cave diving, stalag-might have a problem with an imminent typhoon that threatens the expedition. The team is in over their heads when Mother Nature expedites the timeline; and they must navigate an underwater labyrinth in order to survive.

    Similar to a real surfer watching Point Break, a rock climber watching Cliffhanger, or a skydiver watching...Point Break, there are plenty of technicalities to nitpick. The point, however, is entertainment, not a documentary. While utterly predictable during most moments, the movie nonetheless whitens knuckles and squeezes air from lungs. Beautifully rendered and lit, the cinematography had to naturally extend a little creative license in order to capture some of the brilliant underwater scenes. Particularly thrilling were the wide-angle cave diving shots and the crystal clear caverns. If pristine, unexplored worlds, alien to the average human eye were intended, then kudos are warranted.

    While I enjoyed the script (regardless of predictability), the dialogue was weak at times.
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    4 Comments 60 of 69 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    By NVPAT on September 27, 2011
    Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
    This movie was very exciting. The 3D effects were great. I was holding my breath in the under water scenes, it was that realistic. I will be watching it again which is not what I usually do with movies.
    Comment 17 of 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    If you're like me, you saw the trailer for this film and the prominent mention of James Cameron as executive producer. If you're like me, you loved Cameron's "The Abyss," and wondered if there would be something here to love. If you're like me, you'll regret even spending the dollar at Redbox to find out otherwise.

    "Sanctum" is centered around a team of cave explorers in Papua New Guinea (actually filmed in Australia) as they go deep into a cave purported to be one of the world's most unexplored and possibly largest systems. Of course, a tropical storm is on the way, but they all believe they'll be just fine, with a few days to spare. The storm turns into a typhoon, the comm system goes down, and the team is trapped deep in the earth as the torrent of rain causes the water to rise within the caverns and threaten their lives. In the midst of these struggles, we find a teenaged boy at odds with his famous explorer-dad, and others who are more interested in self-preservation than in any act of human decency. We find bits of "The Abyss," "Alien," and "The Descent" all mish-mashed into a colossal mess.

    The first obstacle for me was the ridiculous dialogue, which sounded like teenagers trying to impress friends and screenwriters trying to fabricate drama. The next obstacle was the world-class explorers who panic and turn on each other the moment any danger hits. The third obstacle was the typhoon which arrives in seeming minutes, with no time to warn anyone even though a storm was known to be approaching days earlier. The fourth obstacle was watching experienced explorers leave others far behind in caves and then asking where they are. This is just ridiculous behavior by anyone who has spent more than a few hours outdoors or in the wild.
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    9 Comments 49 of 65 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
    This is an exciting, tense movie describing a crisis and disaster suffered by cave explorers. The dark environment of the system of caves contributes to the mood of the film. The camera work is excellent, as might be expected of Cameron. The 3D is as good as any that I have seen and contributes well to the effectiveness of the photography.
    Comment 5 of 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    The biggest, deepest cave in the world, lots of water, rumblings, a cyclone up above--danger and perils everywhere. If you are claustrophobic, fear tight underground spaces and being breathless under water, and if you fear clichés and stereotypes, it might be well if you avoid "Sanctum." If you're short of cash, you may not want to pay a premium to see this epic in 3D (It's also available in 2D).
    This is almost one of those "And Then There Were None" sagas, because characters are drowning very regularly in this one. There is a classic battle going on between a strong-willed father and an equally determined son. The stubborn, tyrannical father has spent his adult life exploring caves with great danger to himself and to those around him. He's a cold-blooded, some would call a maniacal spelunker. Cave exploration, it seems, involves mountain-climbing skills, underwater diving, toying with death, and conflict-management.
    Of course in such an endeavor you have to have an ambitious, willful, selfish, risk-taking villain who defies orders, is nasty and puts others at risk. For most of the 109 minutes of movie running time, you are in these caves that are lit well enough to see the actors, and it's bright enough to see them get knocked off. There are no creatures down there to threaten them which may put off some animal enthusiasts in the audience.
    The actors all do a credible job, but I never heard of any of them. James Cameron was executive producer, but it doesn't look as if he played a very active part in the creative end of the production. The special effects are not particularly noteworthy.
    There's excitement, suspense, and you can't help becoming involved, but somehow it lacks that creative spark that's needed. It's non-stop action which younger viewers liked. One thing I discovered about 3D movies. Look at them without the glasses and the picture is brighter, the colors are sharper.
    Comment 17 of 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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