Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Sahara

Illustration for article titled Sahara

Crimes:

  • Offering up a technically proficient but bland-as-broth adaptation of one of Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt paperback adventures
  • Being neither smart and exciting enough to qualify as a good movie, nor bad enough to qualify as dumb fun
  • Failing to exploit the inherent humor of casting Matthew McConaughey and Steve Zahn as globetrotting action heroes
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Defenders: Director Breck Eisner and star / executive producer Matthew McConaughey

Tone of commentary: Sleepy but enthused. One of the disc's two commentaries belongs solely to Eisner, but the other features a director and star eager to agree with each other and point out all the good parts of a film they decided early on would be an "action-adventure with comedy, not action-comedy with adventure."

What went wrong: Apart from the occasional comment about the difficulty of shooting such a physically challenging film in unforgiving conditions ("There were camel problems…") Eisner and McConaughey both seem pretty pleased with the film and excited about its potential sequels. When McConaughey's Pitt says "Every great thing that's ever happened to me happened in the water," McConaughey comments, "You'll hear that one again and again." Eisner answers, "Absolutely. Each one of these will have that line." This suggests that the commentary was recorded before the film performed dismally at the box office and Cussler filed a lawsuit against its producers, claiming that changes made without his permission had lowered the market value of the Dirk Pitt franchise. That, or Eisner and McConaughey live in a state of delusion.

Comments on the cast: When Penélope Cruz appears in a sexy black dress, Eisner says, "If you have Penélope Cruz in a movie, you've gotta have a scene where she's dressed up like this. You can't have her covered up in dust and dirt the whole time."

Inevitable dash of pretension: Eisner on choosing a soundtrack featuring Florida's Lynyrd Skynyrd, Michigan's Grand Funk Railroad, L.A.'s Steppenwolf, and England's Faces: "I always felt their music would be a character in this movie. And as I looked at music and really studied what music I wanted them to listen to, it came to 1970 to 1973 American Southern rock."

Commentary in a nutshell: Eisner on what he seems to think is a breakthrough in the art of shooting an action scene: "What I wanted to do is make sure, in the sequence, there's excitement and action with the fight itself, but there's also fun banter."

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