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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.67%
Worth A Look: 28.89%
Pretty Bad: 16.67%
Total Crap: 11.11%

8 reviews, 42 user ratings

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by Scott Weinberg

"It truly is the next (movie to be compared to) Raiders of the Lost Ark!"
3 stars

Clive Cussler is a guy who's written and sold a whole lot of books. So why is it that there have only been two cinematic adaptations of his work? (1980's "Raise the Titanic" and 2005's "Sahara") Perhaps Clive is one of those authors who are fiercely protective of their novels, and would hate to see them turned into a bunch of junky movies. If that's the case, then Clive was right to be worried, because "Sahara" is only marginally better than "Raise the Titanic" -- and that movie pretty much stunk.

So it took Mr. Cussler almost 25 years before he'd allow a second adaptation ... and this is the result: a mildly entertaining, entirely outlandish, handsomely presented, and instantly forgettable little adventure-story mish-mash that exists solely to be called "this generation's RAIDERS" by at least one attention-seeking movie critic.

Based on a novel that I'm just sure is full of all sorts of macho, swaggery derring-do-isms, Sahara is basically about a hero, a girl, and a sidekick who travel into deep Africa in search of a boat full of gold that may or mat not have something do to with evil warlords and an impending plague of biblical proportions. Yeah, it's basically a big random stew of adventure movie trinkets.

It's not that Sahara is a really terrible movie; I actually had a pretty good time on three or four isolated occasions. But it's all just so generic and flimsy and unconvincing. On their own the action sequences are tightly-wound and toe-tappingly slick, but there's a whole lot of downtime between the fistfights and the oil derrick explosions ... and that downtime is packed to the gills with one Penelope Cruz. No offense to Penny on a personal level, but I see her presence in a movie like a space pilot sees a black hole looming on the horizon. This is an actress seemingly unable to maintain one credible emotion for more than, say, six consecutive sentences. Doing all he can to balance things out and deliver his trademark style of droll, dopey humor is professional sidekick Steve Zahn. Frankly, Sahara is worth seeing on a bored afternoon just for the kinetic stuff and for Zahn's deadpan performance. So the awfulness of Cruz and the scruffy likability of Zahn end up canceling each other out.

Which leaves leading man Matthew McConaughey to grab the movie by the hair and run with it. And while I've always been a fan of Matt McC, he really seems to be trying a bit too hard here. With a blinding grin and a suntan that would make George Hamilton green with envy, McConaughey certainly looks the part - but there's something behind his eyes that says "I don't even buy me as a Harrison Ford type!" The producers wisely chose to sprinkle a few great character actors into the equation, which is why you'll see guys like William H. Macy and Delroy Lindo pop up to spout the requisite amount of plot exposition before vanishing for the next 25 minutes.

If you're the sort of moviegoer who really loves to sink their teeth into a big, sprawling adventure movie, don't let me turn you off to Sahara. It's pretty dumb, extremely predictable, and even a little bit on the racist side (seriously), but for all its flaws, Sahara still works as a C+ discount matinee time-waster.

"Sahara" is only slightly more satisfying than last year's "National Treasure" because it's full of pretty locations, the action bits are much flashier, and this new one, as I said, has Steve Zahn in it. But let's just get one thing straight once and for all: a movie needs to have a whole lot more than a macho do-gooder and a few palm trees before it can be called "the next Raiders." As a matter of fact, let's just stop using that phrase entirely.

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originally posted: 04/08/05 20:58:03
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User Comments

8/16/18 Louise Dang! thought it was the animated film. 1 star because it's got McConaughey in it 1 stars
1/08/12 Gianluca Entertaining and amusing. Stupid, but funny. 3 stars
11/24/10 chris. good movie if you don't want to think hard, in a good way--fun! 4 stars
8/02/10 reptilesni Super fun film . If you don't think too hard, you'll enjoy it very much. 4 stars
9/18/09 Jeff Wilder Ridiculous. But a lot of fun. 3 stars
12/29/08 DanO Entertaining--It is not super flick--yet it is enjoyable. 4 stars
10/27/07 RoC Not a great film but entertaining enough 4 stars
10/03/07 Savanna i love the movie!! 5 stars
1/23/07 Matt Poorly cast, but otherwise enjoyable popcorn nonsense. Lighten up! 4 stars
10/06/06 Booksworm Come on people, what the hell more do you want? It's adventure! 5 stars
9/27/06 Damon Adventure movies can be good. Or they can be like this. 1 stars
3/09/06 Dk Cool film. Enough said 4 stars
10/12/05 eddiejohns McConaughey should never try to be an adventurer again. I wasn't convinced. 1 stars
10/04/05 Aldo nothing special...characters were pretty boring 3 stars
9/16/05 Phil M. Aficionado Slick, rich looking, glib, all-out, contrived, but well-made whackion flick. 3 stars
9/15/05 Tom Burns A good adventure film. It reminded me of the Indiana Jones movies a little. 4 stars
9/14/05 Pinkline Jones McConaughey worst actor since Quentin 1 stars
8/30/05 ES Becasue of this movie I will never, ever pick up the novels, couldn't have been worse 1 stars
8/23/05 Jason Eldred Clive Cusslers Awesome Novels are best left on paper and not to be ruined on film like this 1 stars
7/11/05 Heather Pruplethorne Well, Laura Kyle, it is MUCH MUCH better than RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK! 5 stars
7/08/05 Donna Gelpigi Running to escape Tuaregs before they hatch into Tuars. 4 stars
5/31/05 jcjs fun, no brainer, entertainment, 007 with Indiana Jones 4 stars
5/30/05 Jake Horrible! I walked out of the theater 30 minutes into it! 1 stars
5/10/05 Carol ok 3 stars
4/24/05 Quigley poor Matthew McConaughey! its action is so fake and overplayed and becomes total crap. 1 stars
4/20/05 Krisan not as good as i expected from Matthew, but better than i expected from Penelope 4 stars
4/20/05 Aaron Smith Only slightly entertaining. Liked ironclad story better than disease/warlord plot. 3 stars
4/19/05 CoralSnake I fell asleep. 1 stars
4/18/05 Maria Hau I want to see it what has got in Africa (Tanzanian). 5 stars
4/18/05 Bones McCoy Loads of fun 5 stars
4/18/05 Lord Jiggy Competent, if uninspired fun. Anybody catch the brassy Bond riff in the soundtrack? 4 stars
4/17/05 Roy Smith Cinematic Tranquilizer. Do not operate heavy machinery under it's effects. 2 stars
4/15/05 Marilyn very bland, could guess ending 3 stars
4/13/05 Time Waster What? 1 stars
4/12/05 KingNeutron Thoroughly improbable, but tremendous fun. Zahn as a SEAL though? Not! 4 stars
4/11/05 Sarah Wittenauer (i have read many cussler books), Rudi and Al werent supposed to look that way... 4 stars
4/11/05 Bing Best movie of the year 5 stars
4/11/05 Naka How the HELL is this something different? We've seen it 1000 times before... 2 stars
4/10/05 Witch-King Not bad - something different! 4 stars
4/10/05 Agent Sands Wow. I was so impressed. Not. 3 stars
4/09/05 Denise okay 3 stars
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  08-Apr-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 30-Aug-2005



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