|Category||Adventure||Main Menu Audio & Animation|
|Year Of Production||2005|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (48:22)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Breck Eisner|
Paramount Home Entertainment
William H. Macy
Ronnie Van Zant
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
It was only a couple of weeks ago that I sat down to review the 1980 mega-bomb Raise The Titanic, lamenting the awful script and special effects on a film that took itself way too seriously. As you probably know Raise The Titanic was written by action-adventure novelist Clive Cussler and it was until this year the only film adaptation of one of his dozens of novels, including some 11 featuring the exploits of deep sea diver and treasure hunter Dirk Pitt.
2005 saw the number of Clive Cussler novels made into films double to a grand total of two. Sahara was released with much fanfare, but I must admit after the Titanic experience it was with a little trepidation that I sat down to watch it. I needn't have feared though, because this film is a rip-roaring adventure yarn that is fun, action packed and most importantly doesn't take itself very seriously at all.
Adventurer, explorer and diver for the privately run NUMA (National Underwater Marine Agency), Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey), has for years believed that an old confederate Iron-Clad ship is on the bottom of the ocean somewhere on the African west coast. Nobody sane has bought his theory, including his long-time buddy and fellow adventurer Al Giordino (Steve Zahn) or the head of NUMA, the cautious Admiral Sandecker (William H. Macy). The stubborn Pitt refuses to give up on his dream of one day finding the old ship called The Texas and unearthing its mysterious cargo that was thought lost more than 140 years before.
But Pitt gets distracted from his personal crusade when, with his crew diving off the coast of Nigeria in search of missing artefacts, he spots a woman on a lonely beach under attack from a band of thugs. Pitt lends a hand and naturally saves the day. After thwarting the attack on World Health Organisation doctor Eva Rojas (Penelope Cruz) Pitt learns from the doctor of a plague-like disease threatening thousands of people in North Africa. Something has been entering the water way up the Niger River in Mali and killing people all over the place. Rojas is convinced that if this disease makes its way to the Atlantic Ocean the entire world could be at risk.
Luckily for Pitt he has also just received some vital clues as to the whereabouts of the iron clad ship and coincidentally it just happens to be in the same direction that the doctor wants to go. So begins a roller coaster adventure ride with Pitt and his buddy Al accompanying the doctor up river in search of the source of the plague, while also giving Pitt a chance to finally prove his long-held theory about the old ship.
This is a rip-roaring adventure tale cast from the mould of the old 1930-style adventure serials. It is certainly not in the high-brow league, but is also does not take itself too seriously - a bit like Indiana Jones. It's fun and enjoyable, albeit with a few plot holes (such as an explanation of why the confederate ship is hidden up the Niger River in the first place).
Recommend for a great night's entertainment. Unfortunately I wish I could say the same thing about the Region 4 DVD.
A recent blockbuster film deserves a pristine transfer and I can say this one gets one
The video transfer on offer here is presented in its original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1. It is also 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is very sharp and detailed throughout, with no evidence of any edge enhancement. Shadow detail is handled very well and grain is virtually non-existent. There is no low-level noise.
Colours are brilliant and certainly the highlight of the disc. Bright and vivid, the harsh burnt landscape of the Sahara region is shown here in all its glory. There are no problems with bleeding, oversaturation, or chroma noise.
No compression problems are evident and being a new film, it was hoped there would be few, if any, film artefacts. I was not disappointed, as this is a very clean and near-pristine transfer in that regard.
There are two subtitle streams available, these being the standard English fare plus an English titling option for the location captions (which are used quite heavily in the early part of the film). The normal English subtitles are accurate.
This is a dual-layered disc with RSDL formatting. The layer change is at 48:22.
There is just one audio soundtrack available, this being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at the higher bitrate of 448 Kb/s. This is a superb soundtrack with excellent six channel separation, heaps of solid, clean grunt, and some really well-mixed panning effects. This is a modern soundtrack that will give your amplifier some serious work to do, especially in the opening and closing scenes where mayhem and destruction reign.
The dialogue levels are fine, though on occasion the use of contemporary songs drowned out some of the actors lines. Thankfully there are no audio sync problems.
A couple of songs really stand out from the pack in this film including Steppenwolf's Magic Carpet Ride and Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Those songs with a couple of others really add to the cheeky in-your-face adventure theme of the film.
There is plenty of surround channel use throughout the film, with the levels varying from highly aggressive down to a subtle ambience that finds you looking over your shoulder to see if a bad guy has snuck into your theatre room.
There's plenty for the subwoofer to keep itself occupied. The opening scenes during the Civil War gets things off to a great start, while the climactic battle scene also offers plenty of low end.
|Surround Channel Use|
Sadly there are no extras on this disc. Maybe this is the reason we were not provided a copy for review from Paramount, because in comparison to the Region 1 disc the Region 4 version looks like an entry-level, poverty pack Holden Commodore sitting next to a HSV Statesman with all the fruit.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This is not a good result for Region 4, with the only redeeming feature of our disc (other than the corker of a video and audio transfer) is that I've seen it available for less then 20 bucks. Unfortunately for us the Region 1 disc is fully featured with a pile of extras which will hopefully one day find their way to the Region 4 special edition.
The Region 4 disc misses out on:
The Region 1 disc misses out on:
A massive difference here and one that sees an easy win to the Region 1 disc.
Sahara is certainly one of those dumb action films, but it delivers with heaps of fun and never once takes itself too seriously. Leave your expectations of a high-brow adventure story at the door and sit back and enjoy the ride. It's a blast.
The video quality is about as close to perfect as you can get.
The audio soundtracks is superb. Modern, clean, and powerful with a couple of bangs and crashes that will rattle the windows.
The complete lack of extras is incredibly disappointing.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Speakers||Front - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10|