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Last night we had a babysitter available and so we went to the cheap seats theater in town and watched Sahara. It is loosely based on the novel of the same name by Clive Cussler. Becky and I are both huge fans of Cussler’s Dirk Pitt series, so we were looking forward to seeing what they’d do with his novel in the movie.

It’s beyond me why they haven’t tried to translate more of the Dirk Pitt series onto the big screen; for swashbuckling adventure tales, they’re tops. (The one attempt thus far, Raise the Titanic! may have discouraged others from trying… it was horrible!) Perhaps it’s the slight lack of realism… but wait, we’re talking about Hollywood here. Part of what makes Cussler’s books so fun, IMHO, is that if the hero is on a quest to find some mysterious hidden treasure, he finds it. None of this “oh it didn’t really exist at all but at least you had a good adventure” type of ending for Mr. Cussler. Nosirree. The hero gets the girl, drives a cool old car, wisecracks with his trusty sidekick, saves the world, and finds his treasure to boot. Realism? Who needs realism?

I wasn’t so sure about the casting of Matthew McConaughey and Steve Zahn as Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino. Fortunately, they suprised me. McConaughey was excellent, and they captured the fun-loving spirit and wise-cracking nature of the two characters really well. They interacted as though they had been friends for their whole lives (which, in the books they have been). My only gripe was that Zahn’s character was too dumb most of the time. I realize Steve Zahn has made a career out of playing “hi, I’m a doofus” characters. I wish they could have made him just a bit more heroic; in the books Al Giordino is just as much a thinker as Pitt; just with a different personality. That didn’t come through so well in the movie.

At the end, Becky asked “where’s the Clive Cussler cameo?” If you’ve read any of the books, you know that Cussler writes himself in with a small cameo appearance in every book. (Becky likened this to Hitchcock’s appearances in each of his movies.) It’s another one of those things that makes Dirk Pitt novels so much fun – when is Cussler going to appear? It would have been a neat nod to the books if they had written it in somehow… but it was not to be. I guess they can only base so much on the book.

All in all, it was a fun night out. And it was only Thursday. That almost makes it feel like a longer weekend, if it just wasn’t for the fact that I’m working today… 🙂

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