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Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • 'Sanctum' on Blu-ray is an average watch with great audio and extensive extras, best for a rental.

    Sanctum Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • 'Sanctum' Blu-ray boasts decent surface visuals, but suffers underwater with washed-out blacks, noticeable noise, and average depth, despite some detailed scenes.

  • Audio
  • Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track delivers a strong, engaging experience, albeit with minor directional nuances. It excellently balances dialogue, effects, and score, offering an assertive and satisfying soundscape that complements the film's tone.

  • Extra
  • The 'Sanctum' 2D Blu-ray features engaging extras like a detailed documentary, intriguing commentary sans James Cameron, the relevant 'Nullarbor Dreaming', and cut scenes, offering more than expected for fans.

  • Movie
  • Sanctum," a tale of survival fraught with clichés and underwhelming thrills, falls short despite its adventurous premise and 3D visuals.

    Video: 62

    The Blu-ray presentation of "Sanctum" delivers a mixed bag when it comes to video quality, with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that boasts strengths and weaknesses in equal measure. On the one hand, colors on the surface are pleasing with a natural pop, showcasing earthy greens, blues, and browns with realistic fidelity. Textural details and accurate depictions of texture in close-ups—ranging from human features to rock surfaces—speak to a commendable level of clarity present in well-lit scenes. Underwater sequences manage to retain detail and present colors accurately, which is noteworthy given the challenging lighting conditions these scenes often face.

    However, the transfer is not without its issues that detract from the overall viewing experience. The application of digital noise reduction has been noted sporadically throughout the movie, affecting the natural grain and leading to a somewhat artificial appearance in certain shots. This, combined with occasional but noticeable banding and bursts of noise, undermines what could have been a consistently strong visual presentation. Moreover, black levels are inconsistent; rather than being deep and absorbing, they often come across as washed out, which particularly impacts scenes set in the shadowy depths of the caves where most of the narrative unfolds. Such weaknesses in dark scenes contrast starkly with the more vibrant and detailed surface-level and underwater footage.

    Detail preservation does persist through a majority of the film, from surface environments to the claustrophobic caverns beneath. While the transfer remains faithful to its source material—which itself presents several inherent challenges—the video quality of "Sanctum" on Blu-ray struggles to maintain consistency. Brightness and color fidelity represent high points but are unfortunately counterbalanced by flawed black levels, instances of noise, and an occasional lack of depth. These technical shortcomings leave the transfer feeling somewhat average, despite the potential glimpsed in its better moments.

    Audio: 72

    Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track for the Blu-ray release of "Sanctum" demonstrates a potent but somewhat inconsistent approach with its audio presentation. While the film's sound design is lauded for its strength and clear, intelligible dialogue, it falls short in delivering a fully immersive experience. The sound field exhibits an imbalance, where the effects and music are vibrant at the forefront and rear but leave a noticeable gap in the ambient envelopment. This issue detracts from what could be an all-encompassing aural journey, especially in a film where the echoic nuances and the directional flow of sound are paramount. However, the low-frequency effects add a compelling layer of intensity that fans might appreciate, providing weight to the on-screen action without overwhelming the finer details.

    Notwithstanding these critiques, the soundtrack does commendably when it comes to clarity and the prioritization of dialogue—a critical aspect for viewer engagement. The rear channels are filled with crisp effects that, despite their lack of seamless integration with other elements in the mix, still contribute to a dynamic soundscape. This is complemented by David Hirschfelder's score, which adeptly mirrors the pacing of the film and rises to prominence when necessary. Moreover, ambient sounds such as storms and water movement are effectively harnessed to elevate the tense atmosphere, albeit with a slightly less nuanced execution in terms of spatial distribution.

    In essence, "Sanctum's" DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track presents a bold yet flawed auditory experience. It excels in delivering clear dialogues and robust sound effects but struggles with creating a fully cohesive and directionally precise sound field. Despite these shortcomings, it manages to support the film's tone adequately and promises an engaging albeit somewhat compartmentalized auditory experience for both enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

    Extra: 57

    The 2D Blu-ray release of "Sanctum" impresses with a surprisingly robust set of special features, providing a mix of technical, behind-the-scenes insights and historical context that enriches the viewing experience. Despite the absence of producer James Cameron in the audio commentary, director Alister Grierson, co-writer/producer Andrew Wight, and actor Rhys Wakefield offer an engaging and detailed overview of the film's creation, from its script and challenging locations to its visual effects. The highlight is "Sanctum: The Real Story," a three-part, HD documentary that delves deep into the true events inspiring the film, alongside the significant documentary "Nullarbor Dreaming," detailing a real-life cave exploration adventure. The included deleted scenes, while not adding substantially to the narrative, offer an intriguing glimpse into the editing process. However, it's the combination of technical commentary and real-world exploration stories that sets this collection apart, providing fans and cinephiles alike with a well-rounded supplemental package.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Audio Commentary: Director Alister Grierson, co-writer/producer Andrew Wight, and actor Rhys Wakefield share insights into the making of the film.
    • Sanctum: The Real Story: A detailed documentary divided into three parts: How It Began, Making the Movie, and In the Aftermath.
    • Nullarbor Dreaming: An older documentary focusing on a dramatic cave exploration incident.
    • Deleted Scenes: Collection of seven scenes cut from the final film.
    • BD-Live Functionality and News Ticker
    • My Scenes Bookmarking

    Movie: 55

    Sanctum," executive produced by James Cameron and directed by Alister Grierson, unearths the perilous world of caving with a story rooted in the harrowing real-life experiences of co-writer/producer Andrew Wight. The film introduces us to a team of divers and adventurers who, led by the tough and uncompromising Frank (Richard Roxburgh), explore an underground cave system in the South Pacific. Their expedition takes a dire turn when a tropical storm traps them inside the cave with no clear way out, pushing them to their limits. Despite high expectations, especially with Cameron's involvement and the use of his 3D fusion camera system touted from "Avatar," "Sanctum" falls short in delivering the awe-inspiring 3D experience anticipated, struggling at the box office with a modest $27 million against its own ambitions.

    While "Sanctum" excels in creating moments that convey the claustrophobia and terror of being trapped underground, it is marred by pacing issues and inconsistent performances that hinder its ability to maintain suspense and engagement. Roxburgh, as Frank, stands out with a portrayal that lends credibility and gravitas to the film, embodying a character whose expertise and leadership are undebatable. However, other performances, such as Ioan Gruffudd's overexaggerated portrayal of the wealthy funder Carl, detract from the film's potential to immerse and thrill the audience fully. The script also leaves characters like Josh (Rhys Wakefield) with less room for development, oscillating between extremes until the final moments of the narrative.

    Technical aspects like the mediocre visual effects and disappointing green screen work further pull "Sanctum" down, failing to leverage the advanced 3D technology effectively. The film occasionally manages to capture the oppressive atmosphere of cave exploration, but these moments are overshadowed by its technical and narrative shortcomings. Despite its promising concept and solid moments of suspense that tease what could have been, "Sanctum" ultimately feels like a journey that never quite reaches the depths it aims for, leaving audiences more relieved to see daylight than eager to dive deeper.

    Total: 60

    Sanctum," although graced with the expectation of James Cameron's expertise in 3D filmmaking, ultimately fails to fully leverage this potential, resulting in a film that can only be considered mediocre. Both the narrative and the performances are found wanting, making for an overall experience that does not quite live up to the anticipatory thrill associated with Cameron's name. Despite these shortcomings, Universal's Blu-ray release attempts to compensate with high-quality audio fidelity, thanks to its DTS-HD Master Audio track, and a hefty assortment of special features. However, these additions cannot entirely mask the inherent flaws of the film itself, keeping this release firmly in the realm of the average.

    On the technical side, the video presentation of the Blu-ray leaves room for improvement, falling short of what enthusiasts might expect from a movie associated with such a pioneering figure in 3D cinema. Nonetheless, the exceptional audio quality does manage to elevate the tension and suspense at critical moments throughout the film. The comprehensive behind-the-scenes documentary, spanning a notable 47 minutes, along with other special features, presents a compelling case for aficionados who appreciated "Sanctum" in its theatrical run to add this release to their collection. For those who were less captivated, or who are considering an introduction to the film via home media, it may be prudent to opt for a rental prior to any purchase commitment.

    In conclusion, the Blu-ray release of "Sanctum" is a mixed bag. While it disappointingly doesn't showcase the best of what modern 3D filmmaking has to offer, it somewhat redeems itself with superior audio quality and an appealing package of special features. Those elements considered, it positions itself as an enticing proposition for fans and a cautious consideration for newcomers. Ultimately, it stands as a testament to missed opportunities in storytelling and visual spectacle, albeit with noteworthy attempts at offering some redemption through its home release merits.