Film vs Novel – Sahara

An action hero to rival James Bond that I’d love to see more of.

Sahara Film vs Novel Review by Casey Carlisle

I loved both the film and the book (maybe the book a little more) The Dirk Pitt Franchise is something I’ve indulged in for nearly twenty years – with a taste for action, marine adventures littered with historical facts, and scientific information, Clive Cussler hits the right spot. Dirk Pitt has the swagger of James Bond, but the ruggedness of Indianna Jones. I only wish that a film franchise was born from these great novels.
Yes, the stories are very ‘Hollywood’ – fantastical and a little sexist, but it has a certain comical charm mixed in with the outrageous adventure stories. Sahara does not disappoint – Although I tend to love the novels more focused around underwater adventures, this one had the usual espionage and plot for world domination and equally nefarious baddies.
Casting choices for the movie felt strange to me – I pictured Dirk Pitt with more of a rugged handsome sea captain of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stature, and Al Giordion was always described as a short, stocky Italian man with a head full of black curly locks… and well Penelope Cruiz… I’m not a fan. So I went into the film with trepidation, but my passion for the Dirk Pitt series transposed into the film and saved it from total disappointment.

Sahara Film vs Novel Review Pic 1 by Casey Carlisle

Steve Zahn, who played Al Giordino has to be the stand out performance – not only did he make the character his own, but managed to capture the essence of Al. There were always those comical one liners and moments in the novel that Steve played out beautifully. A total unexpected surprise. Al Giordino 2.0!
Something that I have never said when comparing a novel to a film, is that the pacing and action scene are pretty well matched. Movies tend to overdramatise with explosions, soundtracks, special effects and camera angles – I felt this remained respectful to the storyline and didn’t make it too cheesy (although there is an amount of cheese in Dirk Pitt novels, and I love that irony… think James Bond, we expect a certain amount of predictability and campness.)
You don’t get to glean tid-bits of information from the film as you do in the book – I know I had mentioned in my comparison of Outlander by Diana Gabaladon that they had become a little tiresome and longwinded in her books; Cussler keeps his factoids simple and concise, enhancing the adventure further as Dirk Macguyer’s his way out of sticky situations.
The movie also lost a bit of that tongue-in-cheek comedy with the action scenes the book had (but I can understand why – Sahara would have turned into something like The Pink Panther and lost its edge)
I’d recommend this if you enjoy action adventure stories – think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, think Goonies (shout out to Speilberg!). And even though it’s pretty close, I must say I prefer the novel… the Dirk Pitt on the written page was much more impressive.

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle
© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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