( Max score: 100 )
Master diver Frank McGuire leads a team including his 17-year-old son to explore the largest, most beautiful and least accessible cave system on Earth. But, when a tropical storm cuts off their only escape route, the team must work together to find their way through an uncharted and dangerous underwater labyrinth to make it out alive.
Follow father and son underwater cave divers Frank and Josh, and their team as they embark on an epic expedition into the heart of one of the world's largest, most remote and treacherous caverns. When a sudden storm seals off their only known exit, the team is forced to delve deeper and deeper in search of their escape; can they survive, or will they be trapped forever? With the threat of death and danger at every turn, this journey will test their strength and psyche against the perils of raging water and creeping panic.
This film was inspired by the real life experiences of producer/co-writer Andrew Wight during the filming of a documentary that ultimately resulted in the film Nullarbar dreaming. This psychological thriller features a dramatic man against nature style narrative that contains a smaller subplot about a dysfunctional relationship between a father and son. There are few surprises in terms of what occurs after the team becomes trapped. The characters are cardboard cutouts of those that we typically see in paint by the numbers disaster/survival films. Identifying who will die and who will ultimately survive isn't difficult to predict nor is the melodrama that accompanies Frank and Josh's relationship as they encounter the dire circumstances of their adventure. I never really bonded with the characters and the uninspired nature of the story didn't prove overly engaging. This left Sanctum lacking suspense and feeling rather humdrum. On a positive note it is a beautifully shot film that features gorgeous underwater photography that was captured in breathtaking locations. That probably makes this film worth checking out in spite of its obvious shortcomings. When all was said and done I didn't feel as though Sanctum was a time waster. The captivating scenery made it interesting to watch and the story, conventional or not, held my attention.
The rating is for language, violence and some disturbing images.
Sanctum comes to Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 30 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.6 Mbps.
This is a solid high definition presentation that offers great looking video especially on a large screen. The color palette features a variety of delineated earth tones in addition to primary use of black, gray, white, and blues that give the majority of the film a cooler visual emphasis. This is a high bitrate encoding that delivers rock solid resolution. Close ups revealed high level detail that allows the pores, stubble, peach fuzzy hair and subtle variations in the complexions of the cast to be perceivable. The texture on the surfaces of objects is just as defining which gives them visibly apparent structure and imparts a tangible quality. Black levels and contrast are nicely balanced with good depth and discernible detail within dark backgrounds and shadows. The video has a pristine quality that appears devoid of video related anomalies and distracting artifacts.
The lossless surround mix features good front channel separation and opulent clarity. Soundstage depth and imaging across the left, right and center channels is excellent. This gives the multitude of directional sounds and dialogue appreciable room penetration, high level perception of detail, and appropriate near field placement. It also elevates the sonic refinement of the film's music. The surround channels are used primarily to augment the front soundstage via directional panning sequences, low level ambience and the occasional interjection of discretely placed effects. Low frequency effects when present have solid weight and palpable extension however their use isn't frequently applied. I can't say that I found this audio presentation noticeably lacking but it didn't leave an impression on me either.
Inspired by true events Sanctum is a humdrum psychological thriller that offers little suspense and few surprises but manages to engage via beautifully captured imagery of some of mother natures most remote locations. Originally shot in 3D this high definition presentation from Universal Studios Home Entertainment looked great on my 100 inch screen. It features crystal clear lossless surround sound and an above average compliment of bonus supplements that look behind the scenes at production and includes the complete Nullarbar dreaming documentary. I wouldn't recommend a blind buy. A rental should more than suffice for interested viewers.