Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Alice Parkinson
Rhys Wakefield
Allison Cratchley
Ioan Gruffud
Richard Roxburgh
Dan Wyllie.
Directors
Alister Grierson.
Screenwriters
John Garvin
Andrew Wight.
Running Time
108 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Annie
2 Star Empire Rating
Theory Of Everything, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Bringing Tibet Home
3 Star Empire Rating
Kon-Tiki
4 Star Empire Rating
Enemy
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

James Cameron Presents Sanctum 3D
Cameron. Caving. Stalagtitanic?


submit to reddit


Plot
A team of divers are exploring the South Pacific's uncharted Esa-ala Caves. But when a freak storm hits and their exit is blocked, they're forced to keep heading down, in the hope of escape.


Review
James Cameron Presents Sanctum 3D
Browse more images »
That this Australian cave-diving drama comes with a “James Cameron Presents...” tag is no real surprise — the man has relentlessly plunged his own protagonists into icy aqua (even True Lies starts with Arnie in a wetsuit), and is so obsessed with charting unknown depths that he’s probably pottering around the bottom of the Mariana Trench as you read this. But can Sanctum 3D live up to the King of the World’s own whiteknuckle descents? Well, yes and no. On the plus side, it’s technically excellent and boasts a few enjoyably breath-shortening set-pieces. In the debit column, it has few characters you’ll actually care about and – most grievously – feels small. As such, the vibe is more TV movie than Avatar-esque must-see.

Based loosely on an actual expedition-gone-wrong from the 1980s, Alister Grierson’s film weirdly follows the early beats of Jurassic Park: a helicopter-load of folk approach a remote jungle shore, where daredevils are tangling with the extremes of nature and the mother of all storms is preparing to blow in. In this case, though, the perils unleashed aren’t dinos, but the rising water-level, diminishing oxygen supplies and ‘cave madness’, the mania that can set in when you’re stuck two miles below daylight.

It all works best in the dialogue-stripped action sequences. Cameron is not a man likely to godfather a project without first rigorously checking the tech, and here’s proof that even a low-budget film can have sterling 3D and a blockbuster sheen. Sanctum has mesmerising shots of divers floating in the big, blue void; claustrophobic squeezes into dark underwater tunnels; a fumbling, painful death scene. But eventually the actors’ regulators have to come out, and for the most part you’ll wish they didn’t. Disaster movies aren’t usually noted for their well-rounded characters, but even by the standards of the genre this is an unappealing, clichéd bunch.

There’s the irritating brat son (Rhys Wakefield), with a chip on his shoulder about his adventurer dad. There’s the gung-ho millionaire (Ioan Gruffud, with a deeply iffy American accent), who can’t handle pressure, figuratively or literally. Most of the rest are just bland. Only Richard Roxburgh, as the aforementioned granite-hard dad, brings gravitas, though he’s lumbered with “You’re a softcock!”-style ocker dialogue. This is a script so first-base that at one point in the first reel, someone actually says, “What could possibly go wrong diving in caves?”

The third dimension brings a little freshness to the cave-hopping, a scenario that’s been riffed on by everything from The Descent to The Goonies. Shame the characters and story beats are missing – well – depth.


Verdict
Workmanlike suspenser, with plenty of cold water but sparse chills. When it comes to James Cameron scuba thrillers, The Abyss still has the edge.


Reviewed by Nick de Semlyen

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for James Cameron Presents Sanctum 3D
Empire Star Rating

Sanctum: Review

Sanctum is a terrible film, It was so boring and barely kept me interested in the story at all. This is very disappointing film and I didnt feel for the characters, The father and son were so annoying always **** at eachother that it got on my nerves. Please dont waste your money on this garbage. I would recommend not to see this film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Edward9630 at 02:21, 08 August 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sanctum: (Holding Head In Hands)

can I refer you to the thread that is already running on this topic ;) http://www.empireonline.com/forum/tm.asp?m=3013719 ... More

Posted by hampstead bandit at 19:10, 13 February 2011 | Report This Post


Sanctum: (Holding Head In Hands)

I feel like I had missed out considering this is the first film I have seen in the cinema since November 2010! What a load of old tosh! Now I know I didn't like Avatar but at least that was a movie marvel, a piece of movie history, like Titanic, Terminator, Alien... Why did Cameron put his name on this?! The acting was wooden, the set design was atrocious (being able to see the built in lights and foot holds on the wall) and what the hell was with the lighting? A little torch can light up a huge... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by LUCASLITTLEWOOD at 00:35, 13 February 2011 | Report This Post


SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Review Of The Year: 10 Best Soundtracks Of 2014
The scores and OSTs to add to your playlist

Watch: Night At The Museum's Cast Share Their Favourite Robin Williams Performance
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Ben Kingsley pay tribute to the actor

Watch: Jack O'Connell And Luke Treadaway Talk Unbroken
On POWs, panto and how to name your bomber

Review Of 2014: The 15 Best Cameos Of The Year
Our favourite one-scene movie-stealers

8 Things You Can Learn From The BFI's Star Wars Exhibition
The original crawl, a 'grotesque' villain and a very different princess

Review Of The Year: 40 Worst Posters Of 2014
One-sheets that you'd rather not have on your wall

Hobbit Q&As: Ian McKellen On Finally Saying Goodbye And Farewell To Gandalf The Grey
Read our exclusive Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies interviews

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)