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dsf1224

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Sahara (2005)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Adventure has a new destination. It should have stayed put., 11 April 2005
6/10

Breck Eisner's "Sahara" is a film that makes no effort to hide its lofty ambitions. The tag line for the film proudly declares, "Adventure has a new destination," which initially prompted me to wonder, "Well where the heck has adventure been all these years?" Then it hit me like a sack of bricks. The pistol, the whip, the fedora… For the past two and a half decades, no other film has come even remotely close to the adventurous spirit of Spielberg's Indiana Jones. "Sahara" is no exception.

Eisner's attempt to emulate the magic of the Indiana Jones films fails on three key levels that all involve major figures in the creative process. First and foremost, Breck Eisner is no Spielberg. My vision of him as the sniveling, opportunistic son of corporate shark Michael Eisner may be totally unfounded and slightly pretentious, but I'm willing to take that chance for two reasons: 1) the man was handed 130 million dollars to make a film with a highly unimpressive background directing a few TV movies, and 2) he's probably never going to read this, so I could theoretically say anything I want about him (I'm considering starting a rumor about his ambiguous sexual preference).

The second key element missing from Eisner's Indy-imitation is Harrison Ford. Matthew McConaughey may be decent enough at flashing his pecks and punching guys' lights out, but he's got a lot to learn from the captain of the Millennium Falcon. Ford's role in his work goes much deeper than serving as a simple conduit for testosterone-inspired one-liners and flashy, hero-type grins; he captures the essence of the character with surprising precision – a perfect symbiosis of spot-on writing and quirky, interpretive performance.

What makes the Indiana Jones character unique is that he often serves a dual role as both the hero and the comedic relief rolled into one (this can best be seen in "Raiders of the Lost Ark"). This complex combination of strength and awkward vulnerability is what made me love the character as a kid, and it's why I love him now. McConaughey's Dirk Pitt, however, must rely on his zany sidekick for chuckles, and while I regard Steve Zahn as a generally funny man, the two-dimensionality of both characters grows old quickly.

The third and final irreplaceable component of Indiana Jones' triumvirate of awesomeness is writer George Lucas, who is best known for a little side project of his called Star Wars. While Lucas' talent as a director is debatable, the aforementioned duality he brings to the Indiana Jones character is absolutely essential to the success of the franchise. On the other hand, we have "Sahara," whose producers are being sued by the author of the novel on which the film is based for severely altering the source material. I leave you with the following question to ponder: If the guy who thought of the whole thing thinks the movie stinks, then what hope have we?

Uplifting, Heartrending, a Master Work, 22 December 2003
10/10

I feel as though a significant portion of my life has ended. Long has it been since I first feasted my eyes on Peter Jackson's visually luscious adaptation of the `Lord of the Rings' novels. Back then I was a sophomore in high school, as green to life as I was to the literary prowess of J.R.R. Tolkien. Three years later, I'm a senior in high school, and just as green and naïve about life. However, my knowledge of Tolkien is another story. If the ultimate test of the potency of a piece of entertainment is by what degree it alters your life, then `The Lord of the Rings' trilogy, as a whole, is the most effective series of films I have ever watched. Since the release of 2001's `Fellowship of the Ring,' the first movie in the trilogy, I have spent three years reading, writing, and speaking Tolkien, becoming increasingly enamored by his passionate storytelling and mastery of language. And now, the journey has ended. With the debut of this season's `Return of the King,' director Peter Jackson has officially concluded his three film adaptation of the series in such a way as will be remembered for centuries to come. A common gripe concerning last year's `Two Towers,' the middle movie of the trilogy, is that the focus of the story shifts too far from Sam and Frodo. But in `Return of the King,' a film boasting twice as many CGI effects, battle sequences, and sweeping camera movements, Sam and Frodo steal the show. I never imagined I could feel so pure while crying in a theater. In retrospect, `Titanic,' the film I had always considered to be one of the biggest tear-jerkers in existence, feels so incredibly cheap. Sure, you're sad that Jack dies, and it's an easy emotion to convey due to the natural inclination of grief towards death. But shedding tears of joy - being moved, not by a cheap death, but by courage shown in the face of impregnable odds, by unwavering devotion to a friend in a time of need - now that is quite an experience. And when it's all over, you too feel exhausted. Indeed, as my close friend put it, simply viewing this film is a feat in its own right. It has the adventurous spirit of a David Lean flick, matched with the simplistic moral clarity of an Aesop fable, with a dash of old fashioned heroism. And perhaps I'm biased because fantasy is such a fresh idea in modern (meaning recent) cinema that it couldn't help but succeed. But I assure you, the success of this film and its predecessors comes solely from the respective literary and narrative genius of both J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson. Together, they have birthed a chapter in the history of film that inspires on all levels - a refreshingly optimistic statement about hope and the power of fellowship. `Return of the King' is a must see, and a must read.

Refreshingly Smart, 18 August 2003
9/10

Much like a Wes Anderson film leaning heavily on some crazy exaggerated fiction, "Champagne Society" is the funniest, smartest, and all-around tightest student film I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. Gillette has a wonderful sense of humor and a knack for pacing.

An early work of genius., 15 January 2003
9/10

This film is really just a taste of what Zemeckis later brought to American Cinema - a unique comedic style and storytelling ability that leaves me in awe. A great short, truly remarkable. Really makes me want to see "The Lift." Unfortunately, I don't think it's available...