|A Beautiful Disaster||2 out of 2 users found this review helpful.|
While it bears the sacred name of Avatar and Titanic (among a litany of other blockbusters) director James Cameron, don’t let it fool you. Cameron was the executive producer, meaning that aside from perhaps lending some Avatar technology and funding to the project, this isn’t his film. At the screening I attended, audience members and theater workers openly referred to it as “The new James Cameron movie!” Much to my dismay.
The plot focuses, or tries to focus, on a group of cave explorers trying to become the first to discover the last unknown cave in the world. The cast consists of primarily native actors, some of whom fake American accents, and vice versa. Some may recognize Ioan Gruffudd of Fantastic Four fame, who tries much too hard to salvage anything from the terrible script full of awkward lines handled with about as much subtlety as a monster truck. At first, Gruffudd is a likeable character, but his antics quickly become irritating as he spouts unfunny line after unfunny line.
The main character, a teenager named Josh, is your average cookie cutter teenage character: he has daddy issues, his parents are divorced, and wouldn’t you know it, he isn’t quite as fond of exploring caves as his strict by-the-book dad! What are the odds!? As part of the custody laws surrounding his parents’ divorce, Josh has to spend time with his dear old dad. Unfortunately for Josh, his dad is a cave-diving junkie, and gets dragged into joining his intrepid crew to explore the planet’s last known mystery cave.
Wouldn’t you know it then, that a sudden, completely unexpected rainstorm floods the cave, setting loose a pretty sizeable boulder, that winds up blocking our heroes from the surface. What’s funny is that these guys can somehow get Internet access (they video chat from the surface to the cave at the film’s start) in a cave thousands of miles underground and yet can’t be bothered to check the local forecast. Even if you manage to suspend your belief (I know I certainly tried), you will be rewarded with some of the worst character clichés this side of a Friday the 13 sequel.
I know that in a movie about cave diving I shouldn’t expect a great script with world class performances, but the lines that come out of these people’s mouths range from mediocre to cringe-worthy sporadically throughout. “What could possibly be dangerous about cave diving?” one actress fumbles to us, a line met by snickers and jeers from some and bewildered face-palming from others such as myself. I can appreciate a good action movie, Hell I was one of the few to defend 2012 back in 2009, but there is just such little redeemable qualities about this film that it’s difficult to forgive it for having some atrocious lines and performances.
These characters aren’t just irritating and unlikeable, but they’re also, for the most part, dumb as a sack of hammers. Victoria, an inexperienced diver forced to don scuba gear after the team’s exit is blocked, has to be one of the dumbest characters in film history. She is constantly told what to do to survive in the underwater/cave environment and goes against the warnings every time. When she is told to put on a wetsuit or risk hypothermia, she chooses not to. When her hair is caught in a rappel line, nearly scalping her in the process, she goes for her knife to cut herself loose. Josh’s experienced father urges her not to, but she continues. Watching her is an exercise in frustration.
Then we get to the film’s darker side. What seems to be marketed as a tale of triumph over adversity and bonding with one’s parents quickly evolves into a slasher movie as the cave continues to axe characters left and right. A shocking amount of deaths occur in this movie as the team is picked off left and right by faulty rebreathers, decompression sickness, and other (un)fortunate accidents. To the film’s credit, the death scenes are often grizzly enough to at least provide some tension and to ease the pain of having to listen to these idiots yell at each other in questionable accents.
I have no idea who Sanctum is being marketed towards. On the surface it seems geared toward teens with its tale of father-son bonding, but the grizzly death scenes and R rating are sure to dispel any curious youth that may want to witness this train wreck. Adults will surely grow tired of the awful dialogue and niche premise shortly after the dazzle of the 3D wears off (roughly 20 minutes in). Judging from the locales and technology presented in the film, it would seem as though few expenses were spared in its making. We can only hope it sends Mr. Cameron a firm message not to attach his name to such atrocities.
This 3D cave-diving adventure comes from executive producer James Cameron.
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