Sanctum (2011)

(On DVD, June 2011) The spirit of adventure is something that Sanctum gets right, at least in its first half: The idea of going deep underground, in underwater body-tight passageways is both terrifying and exhilarating, and there’s some joy in seeing characters looking at new things just because no one else has seen them before.  Then the film turns into not just a survival adventure story, but one that is structured around a horror-movie structure –with characters dropping left and right until the story is over.  While some of the footage, special effects and establishing shots are interesting, the same can’t be said about the characters or the dialogue.  Even some of the special effects work looks a bit shoddy at times.  Released in 3D in theaters, the flattened film that can be seen at home has little left to impress.  Of the actors, Richard Roxburgh is most remarkable as a hard-boiled adventurer who will let nothing stand in-between him as his survival.  While the sense of claustrophobia is effectively used and some of the footage evokes a sense of natural awe, most of the action sequences quickly become boring, allowing viewers to tune out until the identity of the latest victim is revealed.  Even at less than two hours, Sanctum feels long, with a third act that could have ended a few minutes early.  While the film is just a bit too beautiful to be called a complete waste of time, it’s nowhere near as gripping as an adventure of that scope should be.

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