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Sanctum / Rated R for language, violence, scary images and lots and lots of real water.

Sanctum is being advertised as “James Cameron’s Sanctum.” The film was not directed or written by JC (Executive Producer) but his real money was used to finance it. With 30 million bucks in jeopardy if nobody shows up, JC is very actively promoting and attaching his name to the project.

Sanctum is based on a real life experience of its real writer/producer Andrew Wight, who was in a real live cave when it collapsed in Southern Australia in 1988. He was making a film about the expedition when lots of water came into the cave and collapsed the entrance. Now he has taken his real life experience and made up a story about cave diving and peril.

The film is being shown in regular flat screen as well as Real 3-D and Real 3-D in Real IMAX. I elected the later of the three, being a sucker for hype and good ads. The film seems to be getting a lot of bad reviews. This is not one of them. Well directed, well acted and beautifully staged, the story, which is supposed to be set in New Guinea, was really filmed in real caves and real sets made to look like real caves and a real big computer with a large hard drive which can generate images that look like real caves and real sets which are made to look like real caves.

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The real locations are all in a studio in the Queensland area of Australia and in a real cave in southern Australia. The actors are all Aussies except for those who are from somewhere else.

Seems a big cave diving expedition gets caught when a big storm dumps about a zillion gallons of water down on top of the people in the cave.

The film plays out as a cross between The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. In TPA the trapped survivors had to go up to get to the bottom of the boat to get out. In TTI they were stuck at the top trying to get to the bottom while the fire came up and kept them from getting down. Now they are at the bottom trying to get to the top but the water coming down is keeping them from going anywhere but down where there is more water.

The film is a good old fashioned story of escape, coming of age and survival but has a script that turns more and more melodramatic to create some conflict between the characters. Without the melodramatic nonsense the film could be well above average but the script drags it down like the water from above.

Aussie David Hirschfelder provides a terrific fully realized symphonic score which mirrors the action and awe, and stands out even when the script falters. If you go, remember the R rating. Lots of unneeded bad language makes this a film not for the kiddies. If you don’t go, you can see most of the movie for free on a National Geographic Special called The Real Sanctum. If you are going to see Sanctum be sure not to watch the “gives too much away” TV special first.

I was considering taking up cave diving as a hobby but this film has pushed me in the other direction. Mt. Everest here I come. Just not the real Mt. Everest.

Rated 2.8 out of 4.0 Real Ratings.

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