Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Jennifer Esposito Is Your Newest NCIS Agent in Season 1...
Critics Are Split on Ghostbusters Reboot ...
'Respect is key': The Game, Snoop Dogg lead march to LA...
Kristen Stewart's Sheer Dress At 'Equals' Premiere -- S...
"A Slow Slipping Away"-- Kris Kristofferson's Long-Undi...
Fox News' Roger Ailes Sued for Sexual Harassment by Ous...
Garrison Keillor Retires from 'Prairie Home Companion' ...
Jennifer Aniston is Pregnant: Star Steps Out in Loose D...
Hiddleswift Is One Big Song Promotion -- A Theory...
Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley files for ...

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Paramount Home Video presents
Sahara (2005) (2005)

Dirk Pitt: What would you do if you were about to be exposed as the greatest polluter of all time?
Al Giordino: I don't know, run for President?

- Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: August 29, 2005

Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn, Penelope Cruz
Other Stars: Lennie James, William H. Macy, Delroy Lindo, Daniel Lobe, Lambert Wilson, Rainn Wilson
Director: Breck Eisner

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action violence
Run Time: 02h:03m:54s
Release Date: August 30, 2005
UPC: 097363418146
Genre: adventure

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ CA-A- B+

DVD Review

Clive Cussler's adventure novels have always seemed destined for major success as film adaptations. Nearly every tale follows the daring exploits of Dirk Pitt—the courageous Special Projects Director for NUMA, the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Pitt journeys around the world in search of lost shipwrecks and continually becomes embroiled in much larger and dangerous affairs. Working alongside his lifelong friend Al Giordino, he faces off with criminals of all stature and nationality and makes plenty of stunning discoveries along the way. Cussler writes page-turning books that offer plots complex enough to please even more discerning readers. The stories are basically the typical B-level adventure tales, but the added historical elements help to enhance the experience.

Sahara is the second Cussler novel to reach the screen following the disastrous flop of Raise the Titanic, which soured the author on the movie business. This adaptation of one of his best novels arrives with considerable promise, but it also fails to truly capture the essence of his writing. It stars Matthew McConaughey as Dirk Pitt and Steve Zahn as Al Giordino and cranks up the action in hopes of drawing a large audience. The general outline of the original Cussler story remains, with Pitt’s search for a lost Civil War Ironclad bringing him into contact with Dr. Eva Rojas (Penelope Cruz). Along with Giordino and their buddy Rudi Gunn (Rainn Wilson), they face off with the nefarious General Kazim (Lennie James) and businessman Yves Massarde (Lambert Wilson). The villains’ partnership involves the workings of a toxic waste plant that may be doing much more than just eliminating waste.

This adventure story takes our heroes to a sparse African desert and down the Niger River in hopes of thwarting an environmental disaster. This setting leads to one impressive action sequence on the river and a series of mostly tiresome other battles. The characters’ close calls are mildly amusing, but they fail to offer more than just passing entertainment. Even the possibilities of the African setting are mostly wasted, with any real danger quickly vanquished through some lucky breaks. In comparison to such high entertainment as Raiders of the Lost Ark, this film seems paltry in comparison and a second-rate imitation.

Matthew McConaughey makes an acceptable Pitt and does his best to portray a different type of action hero. Unfortunately, the four screenwriters are unable to give him anything interesting to say and instead attempt to craft a loveable doofus. They move even further in that direction with Zahn’s Giordino, who differs considerably from the tank of a man generated by Cussler. The actor’s likable presence keeps his scenes afloat, but Zahn can only do so much with the limited material. Even less effective is Penelope Cruz as the attractive Rojas, with many of her dry line readings removing the story’s energy. Veteran actors William H. Macy and Delroy Lindo perform solidly in supporting roles, but they appear rarely and merely provide the backdrop to the main events.

Sahara's strangest (but understandable) contributor is director Breck Eisner, son of the former Disney leader and inexperienced for such a major production. He actually performs competently and avoids unnecessary quick cutting, but he cannot save this frustrating picture. In comparison to Cussler’s original novel, this version removes two of the most compelling elements at the beginning and conclusion. Their removal transforms a possibly intelligent adventure film into a confusing final product that is mediocre on its best day. Also, the inexplicable predominance of dull classic rock into a movie taking place in Africa generates a surreal tone that contradicts the heroes' goals. In an effort to offer a fun ride, Eisner and the screenwriting team remove the heart from the novel and instead deliver a surprisingly dull, conventional picture.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Sahara's vast desert landscape springs effectively from this impressive 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The bright colors of the Sahara appear nicely here, with barely any grainy moments to detract from the presentation. The overall result is an especially sharp, enjoyable picture throughout the film.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The film's chaotic action sequences inspired repeated lessening of the volume to avoid any angry neighbors. The audio is extremely powerful during these sequences and showcases good complexity during the quieter moments. This 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer delivers an effective listening experience with plenty of volume for the obsessed home theater advocate. This disc also provides a solid 2.0-channel Dolby Surround track in both English and Spanish that should do well on lesser systems.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 17 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Longest Yard, The Honeymooners, Airplane, The John Wayne DVD Collection, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan
4 Deleted Scenes
2 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Director Breck Eisner; Director Breck Eisner and Actor/Executive Producer Matthew McConaughey
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Easter Egg: Tour of Steve Zahn's trailer
Extras Review: Sahara offers a solid collection of bonus features, including two commentaries featuring Director Breck Eisner. The individual extras are described in the sections below:

Eisner participates in two feature-length commentaries that provide a wealth of information about the production. His solo discussion is dry and includes the typical statements about miniatures, CG, and live action. He does give too much plot summary and focus on some minute details, but it's generally a successful track. Matthew McConaughey joins Eisner for the second commentary, and their back-and-forth discussion helps to create a more energetic overview. The actor describes his interest in the character and preparation for the famous role.

Across the Sands of Sahara
This 15-minute piece begins by discussing the difficulties in the filming in Morocco. Although they shot during the cooler winter months, troubles ensued due to torrential rain, sandstorms, and locusts. The bulk of this promotional documentary covers the casting of the three lead actors. McConaughey's energetic seven-year pursuit of the role is surprising and showcases his dedication to the material.

Visualizing Sahara
Filmmaking junkies should enjoy this 20-minute documentary that covers a wide array of production elements. Director of Photography Seamus McGarvey quickly describes the special camera filter used to make everything seem hotter. A good portion of the early time is spent focusing on the costume design, which required extensive research on the African customs. The impressive toxic waste plant receives a solid overview, which showcases the strong reliance on visual effects.

Cast and Crew Wrap Film
This collection of behind-the-scenes footage basically acts similar to a music video of the lengthy and expensive production. It offers plenty of sound bytes from the director, actors, and crew, and shows everyone having an enjoyable time.

Deleted Scenes
My expectations were high for the deleted scenes, which hopefully would depict some of the book's better scenes that were chopped. Unfortunately, these four scenes (lasting about a minute each) only scratch the surface. The most interesting are Kitty Mannock's Crash and Finding Kitty Mannock's Plane, which present an intriguing subplot that was deleted because of poor audience test scores. In the other scenes, The Long Kiss gives Steve Zahn a chance to act silly, and Oceanographers Die in the Desert is unnecessary filler material.

Easter Egg: Tour of Steve Zahn's Trailer
This bonus clip is fairly easy to find, so I'll let you discover it for yourself. While entertaining, this brief look at Zahn's living space is over before you know it.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Clive Cussler was apparently infuriated by the alterations made to his novel, and his anger appears understandable when viewing Sahara. This appears to be the type of franchise that could endure over several pictures and generate considerable revenue, but it will go nowhere without its creator's blessing. After watching this pedestrian release, I'm not sure if that would be such an unfortunate situation.


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


television, jennifer esposito, blue bloods, ncis, mark harmon. duane henry, wilmer valderrama, michael weatherly, bull, movie, ghostbusters, comedy, chris helmsworth, melissa mcarthy, kristen wiig, celebrity, rap, game, shoop dogg, jayceon terrell taylor, alton sterling, kristen stewart, equals, jonathan simkhal, nicholas hoult, music, kris kristofferson, country music hall of fame, alzheimers, lyme disease, fox news, gretchen carlson, fox and friends, steve doocy, roger ailes, the real story with gretchen carlson, radio, garrison keillor, a prairie home companion, jennifer anniston, baby bump, justin theroux, taylor swift, tom hiddleston, calvin harris, lisa marie presley, michael lockwood, riley and benjamin keough, danny keough, michael jackson, nicolas cage, tom affleck, boston fan, bill simmons, hbo show, any given wednesday, tom brady, deflategate, hamilton, lin-manuel mianda, periscope, heart tweet machine, hamilton mixtape, cable, hbo, curb your enthusiasm, larry david, bernie sanders, saturday night live, maya and marty, christina grimmie, murdered, plaza live, before you exit, marcus grimmie, nashville, cmt, president brian phillips, the tonight show, jimmy fallon, president obama, the roots, hillary clinton, tim mcgraw, faith hill, maggie mcgraw, humble and kind, ellen degeneres show, titi pierce, coldwell banker robbins & free realty, hairspray live!, tracy turnblad, york theatre company, john waters, jennifer hudson, harvey fierstein, martin short, derek hough, j.k. rowling, harry potter and the cursed child, noma dumezweni, emma watson, judd apatow, paul freig, melissa mccarthy, romance, history channel, roots, remake, anika noni rose, t.i., malachi kirby, josh duhamel, transformers, fergie, black eyed peas, axl, double dutchess, abc, music city, grand ole opry, chip esten, lennon stella, the voice, alisan porterm, christina aguilera, ceelo green, ariana grande, sia, the little big town, 2016 billboard music awards, pink, just like fire, pamela neal, warrior princess, send my love (to your new lover), billboard music awards, adele, patrick daughters, bryan cranston, lbj, all the way, melissa leo, frank langella, todd weeks, hard sell, kristin chenoweth, wicked

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store