No, James Cameron did not direct this movie. But looking how this movie = poster and other form of advertisements are pasting his name in big unmi= ssable fonts, you might just be mislead into thinking that he directed t= his "base on a true underwater cave exploration survival story" movie. J= ames Cameron is just the executive producer for Sanctum.
It's also well known that James Cameron is a big dive fan and perhaps th= ere something about this underwater caves diving expedition gone wrong s= tory that attracted him to put his name on it. So if James Cameron put h= is name in this film project, it must be good then? Well not necessary .= .. read on.
Millionaire Carl Hurley (Ioan Gruffudd) and mountain climbing expert gir= lfriend Victoria are going to visit an underwater cave exploration site = that set up by Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh). Together with them, the= y brought along Fank's son Josh (Rhys Wakefield) which made Frank upset.=
But before he could leave, a major storm broke up on the surface and enc= losed the survivals in the caves. They could not sit and wait for rescue= as the water is rising. They must find a way to escape from the rising = water and the only option would be the unexplored section of cave that J= udges had died in.
Having James Cameron name on your movie poster could be a double edged s= word. While you get the extra attention to draw folks to watch your movi= e, you would also invite comparison between James Cameron direction and = yours. Incidentally Avatar and Sanctum are both stories that been done b= efore. The only difference would be that James Cameron is a good story t= eller and the director of Sanctum wasn't good enough to make a mediocre = plot great.
The treatment between the father and son (Frank and Josh) were the most = uneven one. One moment, Josh was all upset with his father for "killing"= his dive partner and the next, he looking at him with admiration. But w= hen things go wrong again, Josh couldn't wait any second to whine about = how terrible his dad is as a human being.
Those are the issues with the story telling aspect of Sanctum. There are= some technical aspects of the movie that stood out as a sore thumb Pers= onally, I have done some some diving trips, climb a mountain (and a few = hills) and watch a couple more documentaries on this sort of extreme spo= rt expedition. Some of my personal complains were that how people who pa= rticipate in such sports could behave in such stupid manners.
The first unbelievable issue would be how Victoria refused F= rank's advice to put on a dead woman suit. Although she had never dive b= efore, she was a expert climber who had earlier mention about the danger= s of mountain climbing. She of all person should know that when particip= ating in such extreme sports events, it's rather important to listen to = the leader's advice at those crucial moments. Her rich boyfriend and exp= edition bank roller Frank said nothing to try and change her mind. Inste= ad he shone a light in her face at another crucial moment. That is of co= urse the unlikely behavior of people who does outdoor sports.
There's also another issue of how Judes's air hose snapped and had probl= ems sharing full face diving mask to buddy breathe. I never used a full = face diving mask before but won't the protocol for such emergency be swi= mming up for air? They had just discovered a new caves with lights above= . Wouldn't be a survival instinct to swim up for the precious air? Or di= dn't it even occur to them to off the tank that's containing the leaking= hose and use the remaining air like what Frank's son did at the e= nd of the movie? It's really hard to believe that a hardcore dive expedi= tion leader like Frank would just freeze like an novice diver facing an = emergency.
The real life story that Sanctum is based on was not filled with stupid = decisions like those that were just mentioned. It's equally scary but pe= ople don't make silly novice mistakes here and everyone got rescued. I c= an't help but wonder why didn't they just make a movie that truer to the= incident that had occurred.
It's likely that this movie is made for audience who had not tried = scuba diving, mountain climbing and other various extreme adventure spor= ts. This movie thrilled the female audience sitting beside me while I wa= s shaking my head in disbelief. I got a feeling that she is going to enj= oy the technical aspect of this movie more than me. There's also the wea= k characterization and story flow that marred all that's good about the = movie. It's a pity because both the actors and the cinematography were g= ood. I couldn't recommend this movie but neither am I thumbing it = down ... too much.
Beyond The Movie
Read Andrew Wright actual account of the real life story that Sanctum is= based on here.
Stunt Diver Agnes Milowka who did the stunt double for the two female ch= aracters in Sanctum died when she run out of air in one of the caves div= es. The incident happened shortly after the film was released. Her life = and more on the incident that took her life could be found here.
Worth the 3D price?
Oddly enough, you would think that with producer James Cameron in the pr= oject, the 3D effect would at least be a notch better than those movies = that jumped onto the 3D bandwagon simply for the extra financial incenti= ve. But there really nothing 3D about Sanctum. Not even a gimmicky throw= at the audience. Most of the time, the setting is either in the dark un= derwater or in the dark caves and there not even much gradient effects t= o talk off. Seriously, save the extra money if you really do need to wat= ch this (which in the first place would be unnecessary).