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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 EricDSnider

"The next 'Indiana Jones'? It's not even the next 'National Treasure.'"
3 stars

Much of what happens in "Sahara" relies on the heroes finding very old items that are still in working condition, including the wreckage of an airplane and a 150-year-old cannon. If these machines did not function -- which they surely would not if you or I were to find them -- there would be no movie. And if there were no movie, then there would have been only eight films called "Sahara" in the past hundred years, rather than nine.

It is not just in its blank title that the new "Sahara" feels overly familiar. Its treasure-hunter protagonists are wise-cracking and resourceful; its snarling villains have British accents; its action sequences are competent but no better than an average episode of "Alias"; its plot twists stretch the boundaries of how much "coincidence" viewers can believe. It seems less like a movie and more like excised pages from an Indiana Jones script being enacted by B-listers.

It is set in Nigeria and environs, where two American thrill-seekers and hack historians -- the handsome and cavalier Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) and his less-handsome but more-cavalier companion Al Giordino (Steve Zahn) -- are working with Ret. Adm. James Sandecker (William H. Macy) to recover an ancient tomb currently lying at the bottom of the sea. While in town, Dirk and Al pursue leads on one of their favorite obsessions: the mysterious 1865 disappearance of a Civil War ironclad ship. Legend says it was sighted off the coast of Africa, a theory discounted by most historians because ironclads weren't meant to cross the ocean. But Dirk and Al find some solid evidence that the warship did, in fact, make an appearance near the Dark Continent, and they convince Sandecker to let them take his boat up the river to look into it.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has sent its hottest, most incomprehensible doctor, Eva Rojas (played with hot incomprehensibility by Penelope Cruz) to Western Africa to investigate a series of unusual illnesses that might point to a larger plague. But Mali is in the midst of its own civil war (no ironclad ships, though), with half the country being run by a warlord named Kazim (Lennie James) who, along with snotty English businessman Yves Massard (Lambert Wilson), is trying to keep the W.H.O. out of Mali. Why? Oh, but the reasons are nefarious indeed.

Dirk, Al and Eva all wind up together, two Hans and a Leia, embarking on various "Star Wars"-esque missions. At one point it looks as though they will be attacked by Jawas, and when they infiltrate a secret factory, it is reminiscent of sneaking aboard the Death Star. Zahn is wry, as always; McConaughey grins a lot, as always; and I can't understand a word Cruz says, as always.

Directed by Breck Eisner (out-going Disney chief Michael Eisner's son) and adapted from Clive Cussler's novel by four, count 'em four, screenwriters, "Sahara" gets crazier and crazier as it goes, with the heroes outrunning bullets, resurrecting ancient airplanes, and stumbling across great treasures at the most extraordinarily useful times. A little inventiveness is one thing, but this movie strains credibility at every turn.

In addition, it has far too much exposition before anything really happens -- and even once it does happen, it's the same old thing. An attempt has been made to re-create the jaunty thrills of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," but it doesn't even come close. These characters are jokey and generic, and their adventures are common.

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originally posted: 04/08/05 15:03:34
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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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