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Sahara

Sahara

What She said:

She

Are you in the mood for a mindless action flick?  Then Sahara is right up your alley.  It’s filled with intrigue and excitement, and there’s plenty of eye candy with Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz.  Sorry Steve Zahn, I know you’re in this movie as well, but I’m not going to lump you into the category of eye candy.  But, you do play a pretty effective sidekick.

Ok, so here are the basics.  Dirk (McConaughey) and Al (Zahn) are deep sea explorers.  They work for a company owned by Admiral Sandecker (William H. Macy).  They are responsible for finding and bringing valuable wreckages and artifacts back to the surface, and, by all accounts, are extremely good at their jobs.  The problem is that Dirk has this unhealthy fixation on finding this long fabled iron clad war ship from way back when.  While the crew is in West Africa doing some work, Dirk is given a gold coin that makes him more convinced than ever than the iron ship is out there and very nearby.  He ventures off with Al to try to find the wreckage, but instead becomes wrapped up in some hostile government drama.  He also crosses paths with WHO doctor, Eva, who is investigating a potential epidemic spreading across Mali.  As she searches for the origins of the deadly infection, she, too, is swept up in the government conflict.  Dirk, Al, and Eva must outwit and outrun the evil government thugs and a corrupt businessman to save their lives and get out of the Sahara.  Of course, throughout all this, Dirk is still pursuing his dream of the iron clad ship.

The plot of this movie is contrived, to say the least.  My first problem was with the notion of an iron clad boat.  Wouldn’t it just sink?  You’ll be thrilled to know that bare minimal research proved me incorrect.  There were, in fact, iron clad ships that were created by the Confederate Army in the 1860s.  Kudos to them for envisioning such a ridiculous concept and making it a reality.  But throughout the film there are scenarios and situations that are truly larger than life.  But listen, I’m totally ok with this.  Sahara never presented itself as anything other than a fun popcorn movie.  Absurd as it is, there’s plenty of chase scenes and sneaking around to keep things interesting.  I also found the whole thing pretty whimsical; kind of in the vein of The Mummy

The movie has good cinematography, special effects, and sound.  The acting is also on point.  Honestly, the cast wasn’t given much to work with, but it’s passable.  I know some people might be bored by this movie, as it offers very little in the way of anything new for the cinema world, but for some reason I liked it.  Sahara is a generally enjoyable throwaway film that you won’t flat out regret watching.  Is that a vote of confidence or what?

Thumbs mostly up.

Sahara

What He said:

He

There are a couple of things I have to get off my chest before delving into this review.

Sahara

First, whenever Penelope Cruz appeared on-screen, this commercial kept popping into my head. I might have even said the word “Nespresso” out loud – in sexiest impression of Penelope Cruz I could muster up – the first few times she appeared in the movie. Might have I said.

The other thing that kept popping into my mind was that if Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz ever got together, they would produce some damn good looking children. If we bred people the way we do pets, they could make the perfect specimen.

Dirk Pitt (McConaughey) is a treasure hunter. He works for Admiral James Sandecker (William H. Macy) and has a sidekick named Al (Steve Zahn). The three of them are former military men who have moved on to the private sector after stints in the Navy and CIA. In his spare time, Dirk likes to hunt for a fabled ironclad warship that existed during the Civil War.  The Admiral and Al think he is insane, but Dirk cannot be deterred. Dirk is a hard worker and a great asset to the Admiral and his business, but whenever Dirk gets a free moment, he’s back to his hobby of hunting for the Texas (the name of the ship from the legend).

One day while out on a routine hunt, Dirk meets up with a doctor from the World Health Organization. Dr. Eva Rojas (Cruz) has recently discovered a disease in Africa that she fears could turn into an epidemic. The Admiral has recently granted Dirk some free time to resume his search for the Texas, just as long as he and Al agree to help transport Eva – and her colleague Dr. Frank Hopper – to a city so they can contact the WHO about the pending disaster.

Sahara

Before they know it, they are being chased by a dictator named General Kazim (Lennie James), the rebels who are fighting him, and there is a mysterious businessman named Yves Massarde(Lambert Wilson) who is also involved in some capacity too.

If you like simple, but fun movies with action, adventure, and laughs, this one is for you. This movie unfolds in the same vein as The Mummy, Romancing the Stone, or Hidalgo. I’m not sure why critics were so rough on this when it came out. What do they expect when they go to see it? Sure it might be a little formulaic, but if it’s told in a way that is engaging, that’s just fine with me. It’s one of those movies that falls under my personal formula for the perfect adventure film. It’s got action, laughs, and romance, and is entertaining despite the fact you know the good guys are going to win in the end.  It’s a shame it wasn’t successful, because I could easily see these characters being a part of a series.

I also have to point out how much I enjoyed Steve Zahn’s character. McConaughey andCruz were just fine – and as I mentioned above I’d love see these actors reprise the roles – but Zahn was not only funny, but a useful sidekick. He was not only funny, but just as resourceful and help as the lead. It was refreshing to see a sidekick that wasn’t a bumbling idiot.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on September 14, 2013.

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