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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better Than I Expected
"Sahara" had less than a stellar turn out at the box office upon its initial release and I happened to let it slip by my radar at the time. I had read the novel upon which the film was based and thought it stupid but fun and I expected the film to be about the same but with more emphasis on the former than the latter. Well I was a bit wrong on that score. Sure,...
Published on January 22, 2007 by Darrell Heath

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97 of 117 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Old School Adventure Film with Good, Clean Fun
I don't know the reaction of Clive Cussler fans to this film -- I don't know why the author is so angry about it -- but as an ordinary film fan, 'Sahara' is mostly enjoyable, if not outstanding action adventure film. Matthew McCoaughey is a likable treasure hunting hero Dirk Pitt from 'NUMA'; Steve Zahn is a scene-stealing sidekick (and he is always so) Al Giordino; and...
Published on July 2, 2005 by Tsuyoshi


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97 of 117 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Old School Adventure Film with Good, Clean Fun, July 2, 2005
This review is from: Sahara (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
I don't know the reaction of Clive Cussler fans to this film -- I don't know why the author is so angry about it -- but as an ordinary film fan, 'Sahara' is mostly enjoyable, if not outstanding action adventure film. Matthew McCoaughey is a likable treasure hunting hero Dirk Pitt from 'NUMA'; Steve Zahn is a scene-stealing sidekick (and he is always so) Al Giordino; and Penelope Cruz as a doctor Eva Rojas from WHO, who gets involved with Dirk's adventures. These premises, together with the hidden gold coins made during the time of the Civil War, sound much like 'National Treasure,' and the comparison is interesting because director of 'Sahara' is Breck Eisner ('Taken') also known as son of Michael Eisner.

But 'Sahara' is different from that Nicholas Cage film, and that is the location mostly set in the hot desert of Africa. Dirk, Al, and another NUMA agent Rudi (Rainn Wilson) borrowing a small boat from Admiral Sandecker (William H. Macy), cruise on the river into the desert of Mali, Africa, where he believes a huge US iron-clad ship disappered with gold coins.

At the same time, the film shows us that a deadly plague is killing the people of Mali. So, on the way to the country, Dirk and Al travel with a beautiful doctor Eva, who seeks for the cause of the disease with her senior Dr. Frank (Glynn Turman). Don't call it a contrived story yet, for 'Sahara' is going to get more contrived as the team is attacked by the machine-guns, rockets, tanks, and helicopters of the country's troops, and their incredible adventures begin.

That's it, and that's all I have to say. The film is made with a familiar set-pieces, none of which are particularly imaginative or innovative, but techinically speaking they are fine. Action film fans like me might say we have seen the same kind of scenes -- like, peeping into the 'secret' of one company owner (Lambert Wilson); blowing dynamites without using fuse, or foolishly giving our heroes chances to escape from the villains who just don't think of killing them instantly. You can spot bits from James Bond, bits from Indiana Jones, or bits from any actioners shot in Morocco, the land which provides the wonderful landscapes for the film.

However, in spite of its impossible story and lack of chemistry between McConaughey and Cruz (who is miscast, I am afraid), the whole film goes plesantly enough, with competently done action sequences and authentic images of Africa. Totally unoriginal, but 'Sahara' is still fun to see.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better Than I Expected, January 22, 2007
By 
Darrell Heath (Little Rock, AR USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sahara (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
"Sahara" had less than a stellar turn out at the box office upon its initial release and I happened to let it slip by my radar at the time. I had read the novel upon which the film was based and thought it stupid but fun and I expected the film to be about the same but with more emphasis on the former than the latter. Well I was a bit wrong on that score. Sure, "Sahara" isn't going to win awards for smarts but hey this is an action adventure film and it doesen't pretend to be anything but that. Fortunately thats what makes this film stand out from a lot of others of its kind. Its concerned only with providing good old fashioned actioneer fun; nothing more and nothing less and it succeeds quite well with those simple ambitions.

Now if your a hardcore Cussler/Dirk Pitt fan you may be disappointed with the fact that the films characterizations are not the same as the ones in the book but I will argue that the movie does a good job of at least staying true to the spirit of those characters. Frankly I'm not overly impressed with Cussler's writing. His characrers are flat and his dialog is laughable. For example, his villains are right out of some old pulp or movie serial and will actually say things like: "The American devils have foiled our plans and now they must die!!" I kid you not, that is not an exaggeration of typical Cussler dialog. You can see how that may not translate well to film and fortunately the film makers are able to make the dialog and story a bit smarter than the original material upon which it is based. Anyway, the actors are fine and are having a great time and the direction and cinematography are above average. My only real complaint is an over reliance on classic rock as a soundtrack; I like classic rock but it should have a more limited role as a music soundtrack for an action film.

All in all "Sahara" is great old fashioned escapist entertainment and is not meant to be taken too seriously. So, my recommendation is to pop some popcorn and put this disc in for an evening of solid action entertainment.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different from the book, but just as fun to watch as the book is to read, February 26, 2007
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This review is from: Sahara (Full Screen Edition) (DVD)
Clive Cussler's books featuring Dirk Pitt have always been a favorite of mine. That's a bit of a guilty pleasure. Cussler's characters could better be called caricatures. His plots are also larger than life -- no one could suspend disbelief enough to think that the things Cussler dreams up for his hero Dirk Pitt could ever happen in real life.

But that does not stop me from enjoying the books. Cussler's lively imagination captures me in his make-believe world for a time. And his almost self-parodying characters always entertain as an escape from real life people.

The movie Sahara is the same way. It's just as fun to watch as the book Sahara is to read.

Yes, it's true that the movie does not follow the book. That's probably a good thing. Cussler's novels would not translate well to the movie screen if the translation were too direct. Cussler's intricate plotting, his attention to detail (as in his detailed description of each classic car that appears in any book), and his rather cartoonish dialogue work in his books. They would look foolish in a movie.

As a movie, Sahara works best as a family picture. Adults will probably find it entertaining enough. Children will find it easy to understand, with enough humor and surprises to keep their interest.

Definitely not a must-see film. But everyone in our family liked it. Both adults, and both children. Everyone thumbs up. That's pretty rare.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous plot but a lot of fun, November 25, 2005
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This review is from: Sahara (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
I've never read Clive Cussler so I can't compare the movie to his novel, but I enjoyed the film. It's not a classic and it won't win any awards but it will entertain you. Dirk Pitt and his pal Al Giordano are treasure hunters looking for an ironclad ship from the American Civil War that may have somehow ended up in Africa. Penelope Cruz plays a doctor from the WHO investigating a new illness spreading from an African country. They cross paths and together find the source of the disease and eventually find the Civil War ship. The plot is preposterous and you never believe Cruz as a WHO physician but the movie is action packed from beginning to end and Steven Zahn as sidekick Al provides some genuinely funny moments. Sahara delivers exactly what it sets out to, a few hours of mindless entertainment.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good way to spend the evening with the family, September 2, 2005
By 
Jay (Houston, TX, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sahara (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
No gratuitous sex scenes, no major cursing, a great sidekick, plenty of humor, fair science, a plot (however implausible), and editing that did not cut out important parts of the story. It's all here. I think the stars were well picked and likeable in their roles. This movie kept the whole family interested throughout and when I told them it was based on one of a series of books, they wondered when the next movie would come out. What more could one ask for. I suggest this as a should watch... safe for pretty much everyone in the family. Enjoy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Look for gold elsewhere, November 3, 2012
This review is from: Sahara (Amazon Instant Video)
Pretty much the perfect example of what is wrong with Hollywood movies today. Shifts effortlessly from one cliche to the next with no surprises, character development or sensible storytelling. Even the music is predicable. If you like explosions, this movie has them. If you are looking for anything else, look elsewhere.
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84 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who Needs 007? Adventure has A New Name: Dirk Pitt Is Here!, April 9, 2005
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A wonderful romp w/almost-believable escapes [there are a tad too many concidences here, but...], -Sahara- shows Matthew McConaughey at his best as the brawling, good-natured Dirk Pitt, who seems to show up at the Right Time all the time. Indiana Jones' Harrion Ford is getting a little long in the tooth & James Bond is on his 5th incarnation, so it's well past time for a new hero, & Dirk Pitt fills the bill nicely.

From the opening rocket-bombing of Richmond in 1865 to the rollicking strains of "Right Place, Wrong Time", the movie zooms thru Dirk Pitt's past [including a brief reference to -Raise the Titanic-, a glacially-moving '80's Dirk Pitt film that had lovely effects for its time: the -Titanic- slowly rising to the surface is cheesy now, but *sigh* wasn't in 1980]. Cue NUMA, & Pitt's obsession w/the -Texas-, a Confederate gunship which vanished w/"the future" of the Confederacy. We switch viewpoints again, this time to Dr. Rojas, who's finding a number of people who came from Mali w/an eye-crystallizing plague. She looks a little too closely at 1 village & is attacked by a mad Abab [yes, there are other types of Arabs shown in -Sahara-; there are also good & bad black guys]. Strangling in his grip, she's rescued by a timely speargun dart from Pitt, rising from the sea like a modern Poseidon.

The movie careens on from that point, from the NUMA flagship [captained by the Admiral - William Macy, brlliantly grinning thru his cigar - as he gives in to Pitt's wheedling for a boat "for 72 hours"] & a féte at a Lagoan museum, then helping Dr. Rojas & her assistant to investigate in Mali. Before you know it, Al & Pitt [w/the help of their buddy Rudy] are going upriver to unexpectedly "pull a Panama" [bye-bye boat!] after they spilt up w/the MDs, Dr. Rojas goes into an empty well, to check the water for toxins & barely misses being scragged by Stock Bad Guy #1 [the Dictator of Mail, he has no trouble killing her fellow MD] who then leaves as Pitt & Al wreak happy mayhem on his brutal thugs... There's a 2nd Bad Guy, Yves [French! Aha! you *know* he's bad!] a millionaire whose dreams for the future are dimmed by a plethora of Nasty Toxins. The Admiral [Macy] goes to a CIA friend [Delroy Lindo, in a nice turn as a near-cameo] for help after getting none from the local US Ambassador [boo! hiss!] who seems more interested in doing the Washington 2-Step than the Right Thing.

There are more near-misses, coincidental meetings, mad Arabs, noble Tuaregs, good guys, eeee-vil brutes, a vintage car, a solar plant that threatens the entire globe's water, & - finally! - the solution to the mystery of the -Texas-. As i 'own' a larger [6'+, 380 lbs] version of Al, who's named Al, i *truly* enjoyed his "blow it up!" attitude ... & i loved his "lose every hat he wears" tribute to Indiana Jones. Steve Zahn is *terrific* as a guy who hasn't met a devise he can't defuse, a gun he can't use, or an explosive he can't exploit ... all which moaning that "This isn't good!". McConaughey glints & grins, having the time of his life as the good-looking Pitt, & Cruz is grittily believable as an MD w/a heart for adventure.

A real treat ... & all w/o profanity! Not hard to believe the director is the son of Disney's Michael Eisner...
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Witless and Braindead, But We Sure Are Funny and Cute, October 7, 2006
This review is from: Sahara (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
Here we go again. "Sahara" is yet another example of empty-headed Hollywood entertainment. Seemingly, studios continue to gamble millions upon millions of dollars that Americans will pay to go to see anything as long as there are explosions, chases, and one-liners. Cohesive scripts, fleshed out characters, and logical motivations aren't necessary. The sad part is--they aren't wrong most of the time.

The inevitable comparisons of "Sahara" to "National Treasure" have been made abundantly. They might as well be the same movie, enough said. There are also similarities to any number of James Bond films, and those are legitimate too--Except James Bond is a highly trained superagent while the "Sahara" boys are flippant treasure hunters. Nothing real is at stake for our boys, even with hundreds of people dying. After surviving a near massacre, losing their only transportation, being stranded in the desert, being chased by a military force, and having just killed dozens of people--the natural reaction is, of course, "I lost my hat." Hard for us to get too excited if there is no real danger!

Matthew McConaughey burst onto the scene over ten years ago now with charisma to spare. He has done little, however, to stretch as an actor. He capitalizes on his looks and charm over and over again in lightweight bubblegum pop and/or not-so-funny romantic comedies. He even produced this epic--trying to cash in once more. Steve Zahn, a talented actor, also seems content to play the same wisecracking sidekick repeatedly. And Penelope Cruz--let's just be kind and say she is convincing neither as an action heroine or a doctor.

I'm in a generous mood today, and I'll award "Sahara" 2 stars. It has some pretty scenery to look at. It knows it isn't very good, so at least it isn't pretentious. Having a bit of self-awareness is always a good thing. KGHarris, 10/06.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best action/adventure since The Mummy!, April 10, 2005
By 
HeadbangerDuh (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
Although there have been a lenghty string of action/adventure movies in the last year or so, and they have all been worthy and entertaining, never as action-packed or fun-filled as this one. Matthew Mconaughey plays a modern-day Indiana Jones or Rick O'Connell who is in search of a Civil War battleship buried in the Sahara. He is everything you'd want in an action hero. He has a wisecracking sidekick (Steve Zahn). Also helping is a doctor (Penelope Cruz). Some people say this movie is unrealistic, silly, and stupid. And some of it is. But really, who cares? It's action-packed, National Treasure-meets-The Mummy type of movie. And if that's not the greatest action/adventure ever made, I don't know what would be. Also reccomended, The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, National Treasure, the Indiana Jones movies, and Sky Captain and the world of tomorrow.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More fun than cliched characters and an over-the-top plot are supposed to be, June 2, 2006
By 
Alyssa Nolan (New Hampshire, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sahara (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
Sahara, directed by Breck Eisner, is an action/adventure film about two treasure hunters, Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) and Al Giordino (Steve Zahn). Al and Dirk travel to Mali to try to search for a lost Civil War battleship filled with treasure, but then they temporarily abandon their own quest and join Eva Rojas (Penélope Cruz) to try to find the source of a deadly "plague" that's spreading across Africa.

If you think Sahara is another one of those predictable, clichéd action movies that we've seen too many of lately...you're right. Everyone loves to see a great action hero perform some cool, humanly impossible stunt, and it just wouldn't be an exciting enough ending if the main characters didn't overcome impossible odds to achieve their victory, but when this happens again and again and again...it's not even thrilling any more. "There's no way that should have worked, right?" remarks one of the characters near the end of the movie, but by that point I'd already thought the same thing myself countless times. Still, I do have to give the filmmakers some credit. The special effects are great, and at least a lot of the stunts are imaginative, though unrealistic. But there was one thing about the plot that really got on my nerves. Isn't it suspenseful enough to watch the heroes and heroine try to save the lives of all the people in Africa? Apparently not, since part way through the movie it's revealed that if the nuclear waste that's poisoning Mali's water supply isn't taken care of in a few days, it will destroy the entire world. No, I'm not joking, they really expect us to suspend our reality that much.

The three main characters in Sahara are formulaic for this type of movie. You've got the laid-back, overconfident action hero who has more luck than skill, the comic-relief, and the brave heroine who, despite her brains and resourcefulness, still needs the aforementioned action hero to rescue her from the bad guy's lair. McConaughey wasn't very believable in his role, often appearing way too calm, but Cruz did alright in comparison. At first, I was pleasantly surprised at the way the movie down-played the usually inevitable romance between the male and female lead, but that just made it seem out of place when they started kissing at the end. Uh, did I miss something? On the other hand, I was really impressed with Zahn. He had a lot of funny quotes, and his comedic timing was perfect! I wasn't the only person in the theater laughing out loud at lines that would have sounded lame if they'd been said by almost anyone else. If you ever decide to go on a perilous treasure hunt, Zahn's character, Al, is definitely the type of guy you want to take with you; he'll make the whole experience much more enjoyable.

Sahara is funnier and more imaginative than a typical action movie, but that doesn't change the fact that it is still just that: a typical action movie. But, since I doubt that too many original action/adventure movies will be coming out in the near future, if you're a fan of the genre you might want to settle for this.
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Sahara by Breck Eisner
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