BY COLE SMITHEY
Mishmash Adventure Derivative Hollywood movie whimpers “There’s no there there” is an apt way to describe the average Hollywood movie that occupies thousands of cinema screens across the country in a monopolized system that perpetually blocks out hundreds of foreign and independent movies. The latest adventure comedy from Paramount falls into that chasm as a shoddy derivative of the Indiana Jones and James Bond franchises.
★★★★★ Rated PG-13/127 mins.
Matthew McConaughey plays generic sun-kissed treasure finder Dirk Pitt as he searches for an iron clad Civil War ship in the middle of the Sahara desert with his quirky sidekick and longtime best friend Al Giordino (Steve Zahn—Joy Ride). Penelope Cruz adds female distraction for the explorers as Eva Rojas, a doctor working for the World Health Organization to remedy a plague sweeping Africa from an epicenter in Mali. The movie is based on the popular novel by Clive Cussler (Raise
The Titanic). Sahara opens with a false start Civil War battle sequence that probably cost half of the film’s overall budget. In it, cannonballs from an offshore iron clad gunboat rip through trees and buildings on dry land while rebuffing a fierce attack. The explosive-heavy scene is wasted on the audience because, instead of lending context to a story that transpires 135 years later, it merely tips us off to the cardboard characters and lack of storyline to follow. As opening credits roll we get an intimate 360-degree view of the inside of Dirk Pitt’s uninhabited scientific lab as it’s lined with photos of him and his buddy Al tacked on the walls. From the unattended ever-burning Bunsen burner we know that this is a set designer’s handiwork rather than a place where any serious scientific study ever takes place. In a way the filmmakers are being honest by letting the audience know up front that this will be a hollow adventure movie. But it’s even worse than that. Matthew McConaughey does his best Charles Atlas impression while he and Al borrow a high tech speedboat from their wealthy employer Admiral Sandecker (William H. Macy) in order to search around the waters of
LL Cool M West Africa for the Civil War boat that locals call the “Ship of Death.” From a civil war era gold coin found in a West African river, Dirk believes that the ship of his obsessions may be buried in the sands of the Sahara that were supposedly covered in water 135 years ago. No cogent explanation is given on the fuzzy math used to make Dirk’s calculations, but it doesn’t matter much since Dirk’s search quickly becomes hijacked by a subplot about a corporate scumbag named Massarde (Lambert Wilson—Catwoman) who’s busy tainting Africa’s drinking water with nuclear waste disposal. If Massarde isn’t stopped, the constant surge of toxic water will infect the oceans and
APRIL 14, 2005
bring ruination on the planet. So before Dirk can find his treasure trove desert boat, he must shut down Massarde’s gigantic power plant with the help of Eva and Al. For an adventure movie based on chase scenes in exotic locations Sahara never takes hold because director Breck Eisner and his team of screenwriters can’t agree on what the story’s about or what tone should resonate against it. It’s telling that Matthew McConaughey executive produced Sahara for the way he’s presented as a pin-up rendition of Indiana Jones. Hollywood, like Wile E. Coyote, keeps going back to the drawing board to come up with yet another variation on a defective formula. MTW
Published on Jun 16, 2014
Published on Jun 16, 2014
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