Movie Reviews



Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn and Penelope Cruz
Directed by: Breck Eisner


Bluntly speaking? Sahara is an Arabic word meaning "arid desert plain"… and an English word meaning, "bloated Hollywood bore." Sahara is based on the Clive Cussler adventure book - and lets face it liberties can be taken in worlds in print that dont always translate onto film; Sahara is a big expensive case and point.

Story goes… Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) and his life-long friend Al (Steve Zahn) are Navy Sealed trained world-surfin' classic rock diggin' treasure hunters extraordinaires. They work for retired Admiral Sandecker (William H. Macy) and The National Underwater and Marine Agency.

Over petit fours at a snobby soiree for the teams latest recovered sunken treasure, Dirk meets in the shadows with a "connection." This chap brings him a rare minted coin. A coin, which could only have come from a lost Cival War ironclad battlership. And this jalopy apparently made it across the Atlantic, and up the Nile, only to sink in the Sahara's cruel sands…

Yeah, I know…stick with me…

So, Dirk rallies with Al, and off they set to find the legendary "Ship of Death" - which (of course) has eluded Dirk for decades, and made him a bit maniacal about its reality. He knows it does exist, and it did make this bizarre trip - the gold coin confirms his beliefs.

Meanwhile, in a completely other film - they've connected to this, probably for the "chickbabe" factor - the World Health Organization's Dr. Eva Rojas (Penelope Cruz) has discovered a mysterious plague rapidly striking down villagers. But, oddly, no one will listen to her! (<- Dududummmm insert a crescendo of that, "The Maid in the Library with the Candlestick" style music here for mental audio enhancement).

Naturally, there's a twist to the terrible trouble. Seems a money hungry solar power guy is in cahoots with a military power hungry guy. They are trying to bring an efficient energy to the land (I think), but their plan seems to have produced vats and vats of (hilariously Scooby-Doo styled) toxic drums! And you can bet dollars to donuts there within lay the secret to the nasty plague that is filling the water wells of Africa with death, and heading...downstream.

So, as all this brouhaha of mass-murder via toxic waste, and off-to-meet-the-treasure nonsense is about to "unfold," Dirk meets up with the beautiful Dr. Eva - just as she's about to be decapitated for knowing-to-much about the toxic to-do. Next thing ya know, she's hitching a ride with Dirk and crew up river.

About twenty fantastical (yet still dull) stunts that would make MacGyver raise an eyebrow, and incongruent plot droppings, later even the most indulgent of adventure-epic-action viewers are kept awake simply by the sheer volume of the Dolby system. I did notice NO ONE BROUGHT A WATER BOTTLE - of any kind - ever - anywhere in this film…Navy Seal training indeed.

But I digress. Eventually the two weak stories collide and we are thrown all kinds of information to sort and fuse together.

So, what you need to ask yourself is do I need to see Matthew McConaughey and his pristine twelve pack abs bouncing about the widescreen, clad in form-fitting Combat Rock Banana Republic khaki wear? Probably - yeah. Viewing him within this mess, is not unlike that perfectly pungent garlic laden babaganoush beckoning to you from the local village vender's cart - you know the indulgent treat will ultimately leave you with the breath of a thousand camel asses but how -how- can you resist?

Or for the babe-lovin' sorts, ask yourselves is Penelope Cruz's occasional bare belly shots, and continual pouty modele face, worth the schlepping? Here Pen's tough it-girl eye-candy. See Don't Move if you want to actually see Penelope act.

Steve Zahn shows up again as the wacky silly, secretly apt, buffoon Al - same old song and dance. And, I prefer to pretend I did not see Mr. Macy upon this screen. It's Rainn Wilson who is genuinely funny, in an otherwise flat wasteland of one-liners and obvious guffaws.

The other positive note within the poodlepoop? The impeccable production design by Allen Cameron (toxic waste drums aside). Other than that, Sahara is a shameful anti-exciting menagerie of loosely stitched (like burlap stitched with cheap yarn loose) ideas that climax in a laugh-out-loud stupid finale.

Snack recommendation: Bottled water you sip while buying National Treasure via our Amazon link:)



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