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[Rating: 2/5]

“Sanctum” is a film about a group of people who aren’t very comfortable in the real world, with its messy relationships and mortgage payments, mixed motivations and emotional complexity and such.  They prefer to spend their time exploring subterranean landscapes, alternately climbing and diving their way through lost parts of the world.  They seem some stunningly amazing and beautiful sights along the way, and also face life and death situations almost every day.

It’s odd how much that description also fits the filmmakers of “Sanctum.”  Led by James Cameron, who has never been known for his subtle characterizations, the film is filled with stock characters and a wooden, predictable storyline.  But oh my gosh, the things you will see along the way.  The caves are incredible, and no expense has been spared on the landscapes and scenery.  I saw this at home in 2D, and for once, I wished I was in an IMAX theater, watching it in 3D.  Cameron developed the 3D technology for “Avatar” that everyone’s using now; for my money, he’s the only director using it well enough to justify the extra price of admission.

But that doesn’t make this a great movie, only a visually stunning, beautiful one.  It’s a standard disaster/survival story; the characters get stuck in the caves and must find a way out, and the group dwindles and people die in horrific ways at regular intervals.  If you can’t pick which one will actually survive, you probably just haven’t seen enough films like this.  And there are a ton of films like this, but perhaps none as literally beautiful as this one.  That’s something, at least.

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