*** Official SAHARA Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Quentin, Apr 8, 2005.

  1. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    I figured someone should start...

    I had no idea who or what Dirk Pitt was. I thought, from the trailers, he would be a modern Indiana Jones type. It turns out the movie is more like a poor (or numb) man's James Bond.

    I can think of a lot of adjectives to describe the film - lame, preposterous, uneven, and more...I thought 'National Treasure' was better and even that was no more than a fun carnival ride.

    But, I do like McConaughey - he has a fun, Errol Flynn, stoner/surfer quality that always comes through. So cool. So, the movie ends up being oh-so-mildly entertaining. It's mostly flat, but I smiled a couple of times.
     
  2. Stephen Orr

    Stephen Orr Screenwriter

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    I just got back from seeing it. As a long time fan of the Cussler books (I've read them all - many of them two or three times), I understand that some adjustments needed to be made to fit into a two hour plus running time. That being said, I had a terrific time, and hope it makes enough money to warrant a series of films.
     
  3. Kyle_D

    Kyle_D Second Unit

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    Just got back from seeing this. It was easily the worst movie I've seen in a long while. Once "Sweet Home Alabama" started playing on the soundtrack when the whole movie takes place in Africa, I knew I was in for a long night.

    Do not go unless you enjoy unfocused storytelling, ridiculous coincidences and contrivances, lame one-liners, uninvolving action sequences and pandering characters. It's been a long time since an action movie bored me and Sahara managed to do just that.
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Sahara". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.



    Crawdaddy
     
  5. Dustin Elmore

    Dustin Elmore Stunt Coordinator

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    This is the first time I have ever taken the time to write a review for a movie, and I'm doing it with good reason...

    In the mid 70's Clive Cussler began writing a series of adventure books cast with a hero of a slightly different mold. Thus was born Dirk Pitt, a man who is equally at home with the exotic locals and socialite women of a James Bond adventure as he is downing some beers with his Joe-six pack friends. The number of Dirk Pitt novels I've read over the years is short of the 18 the author has published thus far, I'm a casual fan--not a fanatic. If you've never read them, take a look at the early novels as they are all truly great fiction. Later in Cussler's career he was let loose on his creation, and editing was thrown out the window. The recent books suffer from it, a fate many other popular authors share these days. In 1992 Cussler published Sahara, the novel upon which Paramount Pictures has based their new film.

    Coming in at just over two hours, Sahara is a well paced, well directed adventure film. It takes its time to tell the story and doesn't over-bloat with too many action scenes. And the action it has is always fun and believable. It doesn't have much in common with Indiana Jones as some would have you believe (Spielberg didn't invent the treasure hunt), and that's a good thing as Sahara is its own movie. And it ignores the James Bond overtones of the books, also a good decision. For Cussler fans it is more faithful than 90% of other book-to-film adaptations, and certainly more faithful than the novel has any right to be. The title sequence shows the sign of a shrewd director, carefully acknowledging the books for fans while establishing our characters in seconds for new audiences. The chemestry between McConaughey and Zahn is some of the best in recent film history. Cruze is far more believable as a beautiful scientist than say, Denise Richards. And the supporting cast all carry their weight (especially Macy, an actor who is usually cast in undefined roles that could be played by anyone, but here he is spot on).

    The story is more realistic than some reviewers give credit. I've read complaints that the solar plant in the film couldn't have been there unnoticed. While I could believe that almost anything can be hidden in the middle of the Sahara, the fact is they never claimed it was hidden. Maybe some reviewers should pay attention to a film before making idiotic remarks.

    The film isn't perfect, it could use a greater sense of peril, and early on I noticed a few awkward cuts--probably made to help the pace. There is one aspect of the book I wish had been kept in the film regarding our nations president, but it was hardly vital to the story and one of the more outraegous aspects of the novel. The biggest problem I have is the soundtrack, there is way to much rock in the film. What score it has is good, but I would have prefered that it fill the movie. The rock that is there is also wholly inappropriate (Sweet Home Alabama while cruising the Niger River?), and hurts the movie by altering the tone it should have.

    But when all is said and done Sahara is still better than National Treasure, The Mummy movies, the tomb raider movies, or any of the last three james bond movies. The best way to view it is as a "Dr. No", a good movie that could be the start of some great ones. To date, the production company that made Sahara has optioned two other Cussler books. Inca Gold, which would make a great treasure hunt movie. And Night Probe!, a good political thriller/adventure and features one of the greatest character cameos of all time... (Bond. James Bond, if only Sean Connery would do it)
    . I can only hope that movie goers will ignore the stupid advertising that tries to make the movie look like some Divinci Code clone, or the reviews which largely ignore the intent of the movie. If you see a movie thats a comedy but you wanted a romance, don't fault it for being funny. Sahara succeeds on nearly every level it was intended to, and became a pretty good film in the process.

    ***1/2
     
  6. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Nicely written Dustin Elmore!

    The following I posted @ various forums including IMDb ...


    The pro-reviewer's are near 50/50 (Ebert gave it a thumbs-up) but so was "Hidalgo (3.5.04 $18.829 - Gross: $67.249)"!!!

    ID-4 had a better pro-reviewer's AVG @ 60/40!!! - he-he!!!

    I'll probably watch the movie again in a Cinema Theater before the DVD is released in 6 months or so, just to catch more of the buddy banter between Pitt & Giordino during the action sequence which was great! Hopefully this Theater will have a better sub with more floor moving impact!!! [​IMG]


    Phil
     
  7. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    I will admit to having never read any of Clive Cussler's books, despite seeing them in droves at my favorite used bookstores. If this is any indication, the movie is what I assumed they'd be like which is both good and bad. The film is both good and mediocre, but it was good enough (and the genre is good enough) that I hope they will make more.

    Sahara seems to me to be the type of movie Stephen Sommers would have made before he made The Mummy Returns. It's got a kind of action/locale/hero dynamic that worked well for The Mummy in my eyes and seems to be a hallmark of the 'adventure' film. A virtue of this seems to be relatively superficial heroes who fly by the seat of their pants and shrug off fists and kicks and dodge bullets and explosions with a wink and a smile. In no way is the action believeable but it's all in the hands of the writer and director to not push the limits too far so that I take a step back and roll my eyes. Having said that, I think Sahara did it a bit too often for my tastes but still kept enough of a good attitude that it didn't sink the film.

    Matthew McConaughey was fairly well cast as the hero because he pulled off the physicality and happy go lucky attitude well. Steve Zahn was quite good as a capable comedic sidekick, a true rarity. Penelope Cruz is attractive first and plays a caring doctor well enough. Delroy Lindo must have been cast only on condition of having a better part in the potential sequels because he did so little.

    The part that really sinks it is the story and plotting, which desperately tries to link two disaprate storylines and uses silly coincidences to tie them together, and is reliant on so many situations where the villians have divine insight into the heroes location. As each new location or character somehow advanced both the plague and the battleship storylines, I was constantly pulling myself out of the movie wondering how this would fly in book form. To it's credit, National Treasure established a rather silly premise but then stayed within a structured pace to get to it's conclusion without such contrived coincidences and as such was more fun to watch unfold.

    At the end, I thought it wasn't terrible overall. The adventure genre has been underrepresented for decades it seems and I'd welcome even par or sub-par entries if it brings in a few more. I can see that these characters have the capability to be fun to watch as long as they are given a good playground to go around in. I can only hope that the film will be looked at positively and that future movies will improve. Of course, if the problems I found were symptomatic of Clive Cussler's writing, I may be forever disappointed. I'd rather give him the benefit of the doubt and see more of his books as films than less at this point.
     

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