There are many things that can make a movie bad.
Bad acting, bad writing, bad directing (looking at you George Lucas) and even bad marketing. But above all else, there is one thing that can ruin even the best movie: Being boring.
That’s right, being boring is the worst sin a movie can ever commit. No matter how bad the other parts of the movie are, if the movie is engaging through the whole run time, I can usually have a good time.
I did not have a good time watching “Sahara.”
“Sahara” is a paramount film adaptation of a novel of the same name by Clive Cussler. Now I won’t act like Cussler is the greatest author in the world, but I usually have some fun listening to his work as audio books during road trips. It’s nice campy action that allows you to turn your brain off and simply enjoy.
The movie though is one of the biggest box office flops of all times, having lost an estimate of $100 million. It was supposed to be the first movie of Cussler’s Dirk Pitt series, but because of how bad it flopped that idea went out the window. And for the first time, it wasn’t because of bad marketing.
It was because they didn’t actually consult the author of the books.
Cussler actually sued the production team because he said that they did not consult him well enough about the movie and that it wasn’t up to his standards. The production team claimed that Cussler had not only been shooting down way too many ideas and screenplay revisions, and that he had been bashing the movie over social media before the movie even was released.
In the end nothing ever happened, and nobody had to pay the legal fees. I don’t really stand on one side or the other. All I know is that they both blamed each other for this flop of a film.
The movie sounds really nice on paper, with a bunch of interweaving plots all coming together into an action-packed climax, but on the silver screen it was just a boring mess.
The saving grace for any action movie should be its action, right? Well, in this movie the action consisted of very bad physical acting combined with enough cuts to make me sick to my stomach.
Cuts in an action scenes can be done correctly. Jackie Chan movies have this down to a science, with large sweeping shots showing all of the action clearly with power and emphasis being conveyed through camera motion and very sparingly-used cuts. “Sahara” though makes up for its actors’ lack of fighting skills by cutting multiple times every second. It makes the action impossible to follow and actually overturned my stomach if I was paying too much attention to the screen.
Now when I say this move is boring, I mean boring. This movie is two hours long, and I was only able to stay invested in the film for maybe 20 minutes. And not a straight 20 minutes – this was spread throughout the film. Me and my film buddies spent the whole movie trying to talk about anything to combat our boredom, with them begging me to just skip through the movie.
I refused because I wanted to see the whole thing before writing about it. I wish I hadn’t. Sitting through the whole thing almost caused me physical pain. I had seen the movie years ago, but I guess I had watched it while playing a Gameboy or Nintendo DS, because child me would not have been able to sit through this whole film.
The movie just moves at a snail’s pace. I bet I could re-cut this movie to around half the size and it would be a slightly better film. They try and do a lot of sweeping grandiose shots showing off the landscape, but when that landscape is the desert for more than half the film it really doesn’t make any sense. Just look at all that sand!
Overall, I give this film a 4 out of 10, because it did some things right but so, so many things wrong. Just watch an Indiana Jones movie or a James Bond film instead – those are much better things to watch than this.
This was originally written for The University of Tennessee’s Daily Beacon and edited by Margot McClellan.