TV & Movie Appreciation Forum
by Scott Roberts on Feb 8, 2011 at 4:55:15 pm

I saw the new James Cameron produced film, Sanctum, over the weekend and was pleasantly surprised. I mean, the acting was horrendous, and the dialogue these horrendous actors had to say was also horrendous, but I can't lie and say I wasn't completely sucked into the suspense aspects of the film. It was really, genuinely exciting and gave the thrills of adventure and the suspense of imminent death to any character. But again, the movie works best when the characters are occupied with staying alive, and not when they are force feeding the audience unwanted drama. And the main character's attitude and point of view switched literally from scene to scene, it was nearly impossible to determine how to feel about basically anybody. Or maybe he was just bipolar? That would explain it I guess...

As a film that I basically only saw advertised as a "James Cameron Mega Awesome 3D Production!!!" the 3D wasn't that impressive. And the film was only offered in 3D. It was good in certain situations, but as a whole, I've seen better.

In comparison with the only other cave exploration movie I think I've ever seen, 2005's The Decent, I would say The Decent is better. At least The Decent had mutant bat people. And better acting. But yeah, Sanctum wasn't bad. But if you don't see it on a theater screen, I'm pretty sure it's not going to translate very well to DVD and still look as cool on a regular old TV.

Re: Sanctum
by Tim Wilson on Feb 8, 2011 at 9:51:31 pm

[Scott Roberts] "I'm pretty sure it's not going to translate very well to DVD and still look as cool on a regular old TV."

Start saving now for a 3D TV. There were some post-holiday deals that included "free" 3D BD players - highly recommended. The 120 Hz display (probably 240 by next year) completely blows away that nasty 24p nonsense - a MUCH better experience for the 3D movies I've seen than in theaters, even on a smaller screen.

Anyway, the 3D cave movie I'm holding out for is Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams."

Herzog's approach to documentaries is as idiosyncratic as anyone in the game, very much focused on extreme people, so that his "Antarctica documentary" becomes "Encounters At The End of the World" - meeting people who are nuts enough to want to be in Antarctica for any length of time. Not that you get this from most reviews, which focus on the scenery, but watch the trailer with this in mind to get the barest idea of what I mean.

Even though he's the narrator on the film, and onscreen for plenty of it, the commentary is a gas. Highly, highly recommended.

So I'm going to triangulate and say that this documentary isn't just about the caves- it's about the people who dreamed, perhaps both the ones who were nuts enough to go down thousands of feet to make these drawings and the ones nuts enough to go into the caves for the sake of going into caves today.

I'd see it if wasn't in 3D, but knowing what this guy does with stories and visuals in general makes me giddily anticipate what he's going to do with this.

Re: Sanctum
by Mike Cohen on Feb 8, 2011 at 10:06:30 pm

Is 120 hz refresh better suited to 3D movies? I have turned off the 120 hz feature on my tv - I think it makes video look weird - it separates the action from the background in a live tv sort of a way that in my opinion is inappropriate for most non-live tv. For sports I'm sure it works.

Is it me?

Mike Cohen

Re: Sanctum
by Mark Suszko on Feb 8, 2011 at 10:15:17 pm

I want the music off that trailer:-)

Re: Sanctum
by Tim Wilson on Feb 8, 2011 at 10:37:57 pm

Mike, one reason why 120+ looks so good for 3D is that in many cases, you're looking at two 60i streams. To show them as a typical 60i frame, you'd have to drop half the res.

Part of the problem with 120 on your TV is that it's temporally upsampling, which is suboptimal to say the least. And as you note, it feels quite a bit different than the TV you're used to watching. Combining 120 with regular ol' Blu-ray is indeed kind of eerie. It works better for some things than others.

I'm not yet sure about 2D sports at 120. I haven't seen any yet. ESPN 3D is two half-res 720p streams and looks good, and BD is off the hook to my eyes. The TV autosenses this stuff, though, so the Super Bowl came through as expected.

My experience with home theater installation in the early 90s, though, was that people who watch a lot of movies really liked line doublers, and sports fans HATED them. The interlacing was integral to their visual experience. Of course, the kids in those rooms are the ones buying these TVs now, and I have no idea what they think is normal - for TV or anything else.

And stay off my lawn!!!

But I'll note that Cameron's commitment for Avatars deux and three is to get theaters to install higher framerate projectors - at least 48, and hopefully 60. I assume that most of the ones already in place can handle this - that's been my (limited) experience so far - but he's of the opinion that we've pretty well maxed out pixels. The next horizon in resolution is temporal.

Worth noting: Avatar was shot 1920x1080 - yep, good ol' HD. Looked pretty good to me. And watching it at home at 120 Hz, I don't see how anyone could fail to agree that frame rate is going to be more important than pixels from here.