Once upon a time, a few years after my parents split up, I was at my Dad's apartement and I was bored. The frogs had been caught, the TV had been watched, I had forgotten my socks again and I had no book to read. My Dad knew then that I liked reading - he made a big deal out of how much my sister and I read when we were little (and now I'm an english major... it's all your fault, Dad!) At any rate, a book was handed to me. the pages were a little worn, and the spine was curvey from the pages being folded over, but I didn't see why i shouldn't give it a try. I was an impressionable boy and I figured it was about time I saw for myself what my dad was reading. The book that my father passed me was Sahara by Clive Cussler.
I loved it so much that I spent the enire summer tracking down every Clive Cussler book I could, staying up as late as one in the morning reading the adventures of Dirk Pitt in underground rivers (Inca Gold - I finished that one by lamplight as we were camping), through ancient greek mazes (The Mediterrianian Caper, the first Dirk Pitt novel published, second written and second chronilogically) or even finding and raising the might ship Titanic (Riase the Titanic! written before people found it on the bottom of the ocean). These books (there are many more than just the ones I listed here) captured my imagination. I loved them, they were adventure in its purest form. People say Dirk Pitt is like a mash-up between James Bond and Indian Jones. I'm more inclined to say that he's his own action hero, he just didn;t get enough rep because he was in books instead of movies... At least, thats the way it used to be, but I'll get to that. James Bond was a book character, too. The reason why Dirk Pitt is like James Bond is because Clive Cussler's big inspiration was Sir Ian Flemming - the creator of Mr. Bond. It's all in his biography, "Dirk Pitt and Clive Cussler Revealed" (which I also read and enjoyed). To my ecstatic joy, Clive Cussler's books kept coming, usually one a year. Then there was the Numa files - stories about a whole new hero, Kurt Austin... who, in the end, turned out to be pretty much the same as Dirk Pitt. And even later still, The Oregon files, books about some extra characters originally found in the Dirk Pitt adventure Shock Wave.
Imagine my excitement when I learned that Clive Cussler had done something he swore never to do after the movie "Raise the Titanic!" was made. I vauely remember being fascinated by this film long before I even knew who Clive Cussler was. Upon viewing it again after reading the book, I was very dissapointed in it, but it was still fun to see my favourite action hero Dirk Pitt on screen... even if he wasn't really actioning in the movie. At any rate, Clive Cussler, I learned a few years ago, sold the rights to three of his books to Crusader Entertainment, a new film company. This news filled me with joy, and I was even more exicted when the first film they were planing on making was my favourite Dirk Pitt Adventure: Sahara. Eventually, the company changed their name to Bristol Bay productions and the script for Sahara kept on getting thrown around and beaten up and hung out to dry. It seems that Mr. Cussler did not want another Raise the Titanic. He wanted the movie to reflect the book as much as possible, which I think is an excellent thing to do. Dirk Pitt books would make excellent films. In the end, there was a lot of bitter resententment between the film makers and the Cussler family. So much, in fact, that Mr. Cussler sued Bristol Bay productions for breach of contract (they were only supposed to produce a movie with a script approved by Mr. Cussler - and that didn't happen apparently) and Dana Cussler's part in the film was cut out (which is unfortunate, because it was an interesting if somewhat irrelevant part of the story)
The fact is, in the end, as a Clive Cussler fan, I have to admit that I enjoyed the movie Sahara. At first, all the Characters bothered me. Nobody was cast right. William H. Macy was a good Sandecker, yes, but something didn't seem right about the part. And casting creepy guy from Six Feet under as Rudy Gunn? What the shit was that all about? Don't even get me started on Dirk Pitt. I think perhaps that Steve Zahn was a good cast for Al Girodino. This is me disagreeing with Mr. Cussler, in point of fact. I wasn't too sure how it would work out, but with the way that they took Al in the movie, I thought he was possibly one of the strongest played characters.
the movie did manage to stay fairly close to the original plot-line of the book. It strayed enough for me to understand why Clive Cussler wasn't happy with the script, but it was really just the characters that weren't right in my mind. The core adventure was very much in tact, if changed a little here and there... or, a lot, in the case of the final battle.
I genuinely enjoyed the film.
Why does my sense of realism hurt? Well, I'll tell you that. Sahara is getting bad reviews - not because it's poorly made or because it has bad acting, but because it's been called unrealistic. I have to agree, it is unrealistic. But, that's the point of this film. We're supposed to suspend belief in action stories. We do it for James Bond, Indian Jones, hell, even triple X (I saw the preview for the new triple X by the way. My secret passion for action movies gave me a mad desire to watch the film. Plus I think Ice Cube is actually a good actor... but thats another story). These movies are berated for being unrealistic (okay, Triple X was). The thing here is, James Bond and Indian Jones are time honoured film traditions that people respect. It's okay to give them good reviews (or hold them up as the shining examples of the best action adventure films ever made) because they have always been good. Nobody's going to say Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom was a bad movie, simply because it wasn't. Unfortunetly, everybody assumes that new action films are just trying to re-do what old ones did, and then they get bad reviews for being unrealistic. Thats a bit contradictory, and downright stupid. If we're willing to suspend our belief for Indian Jones and James Bond, why not Dirk Pit too? And maybe even Vin Deisel (who isn't a bad actor - for real! go watch Saving Private Ryan, it proves he can act) and Ice Cube, too. Hell, maybe if we suspend beleif enough, we can even enjoy straight cheese like The Transporter.
Basically, what it all boils down to is this: Sahara is a cheesy action movie, anda good one at that. You're going to get explosions, one liners, and gunfights. I read a review that says there was no plot. I disagree... there is a plot, and a strong one at that. In fact, for an action movie, there wasn't a lot of fighting. Commando, staring the Governator, has a lot of fighting.The plot of that movie is "my Daughter was kidnapped and now i must kill people". Sahara isn't a thinker, but it's not plotless either. Ignore the stupid reviews who say its bad because it's unrealistic. Accept that it's an action-adventure movie based on an action-adventure book, sit back, and enjoy the film. Take it from a Cussler fan - it may not be on par with his books, and a film adaptation could be better, but it's still good plain fun. After the two hours, I garuntee that you will not feel like you wasted your time... just keep in mind this movie wasn't made to win awards, it was made for entertainment.