Friday, May 13, 2005


SAHARA: Adventure to the Max
By Reymundo Salao

Dirk (Matthew McConaughey) and Al (Steve Zahn) have been friends since kindergarten, having also gone through college and the Navy together. The two now work for a former admiral traveling around the world and salvaging treasures from the sea with the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA). In his spare time, Dirk is obsessed with the 150-year-old mystery of the Texas, an Ironclad battleship that reportedly disappeared from Richmond, Virginia during a Civil War battle and turned up in Africa. When a Confederate coin--allegedly one of only five minted--surfaces in Mali, Dirk and Al plan to travel there from Lagos, Nigeria on the admiral's yacht to investigate. Meanwhile, in Lagos, Dirk meets Eva (Penelope Cruz), a doctor for the World Health Organization (WHO) who believes that there is a plague building in Mali. Since the WHO is unable to find another way into the war-torn country, Dirk and Al give Eva and her colleague a lift up the river. Once in Mali, Dirk, Al, and Eva quickly find themselves embroiled in trouble as she pursues the source of the disease. Meanwhile, Dirk and Al search for the Texas.

You really can’t find anything to complain about a film like SAHARA. It is one of those flawlessly fun movies that you’d want to watch to cool yourself and unwind, especially during these seasons of heat and stress. Getting that treasure-hunting desert experience.

The lead guy in this flick is adventurer and all-around action man, Dirk Pitt, which is played by Matthew McConaughey, who breathes life into this character who may well be the next “Indiana Jones Icon” a seemingly cliché protagonist, but one that would need no lengthy introduction or complicated character development. His cinematic introduction says it all, the classic rock soundtrack and the “cigarette commercial” atmosphere of it. McConaughey fits his character role well, he has played cocky roles in the past, from his smooth-talking, swinging stoner in “Dazed & Confused”, to the military mad hero in “Reign of Fire”, he indeed embodies that sense of danger-loving, sharply inventive, new-age tomb raider.

Sidekick Al Giordino, played by Steve Zahn is such a laughter-generator with his one-liners and the way he delivers his far-out wacky lines with a semi-stoner, semi-weirdo manner (reminiscent of his past roles in “That Thing You Do”, and “Suburbia”). His kookiness that can be summed up from his bizarre hairstyle, to his constant whining about the hats (and the turban) that he (tries to) wears. But he is no cliché sidekick, for his character really can kick ass. His character is also an ex-navy and has been Dirk Pitt’s partner since, well, kindergarten, up till their navy days. The duo has great brilliant chemistry, and could even be as good as the Lethal Weapon duo of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.

The fascinatingly beautiful Penélope Cruz plays the heroine Eva Rojas, a field doctor for the WHO who joins with Dirk’s and Al’s adventure. We’re way past thinking of Penélope Cruz to be just another “babe” actress for she has proven her acting prowess in numerous films. She proves she can play along in tough roles with a lot of stunts. And after all that action, it’s nice to see her on a stunningly lovely bikini scene at the end of the film. William H. Macy is also in the film as Jim Sandecker, former Admiral and pseudo-boss of Dirk and Al, and Delroy Lindo in a very interestingly cool role.

The film is directed by Breck Eisner who seems to have only made minor flop-ish projects in the past, but he manages to redeem himself with this fun flick. SAHARA is based on a novel by famous best-selling author Clive Cussler, which is an obvious pointer that this is a film with substance as well. What I really love about SAHARA is that it seems to blend well elements of the Indiana Jones-type action–adventure, the James Bond intrigue, and even a pinch of an element reminding you of Lawrence of Arabia. If you love treasure-hunting action-adventures the likes of Indiana Jones and Operation: Condor (Armour of God II), you should watch this movie, and you will realize that indeed, as its tagline goes; “Dirk Pitt. Adventure has a new name” with the teasing possibility that there could be an upcoming sequel making the character of Dirk Pitt a potential film franchise character. Here is the schedule of SAHARA on Robinsons Movieworld: 11:00 AM, 1:30 PM, 4:05, 6:40, and 9:15 PM

Check out the screening schedules of all the other films shown in Iloilo City on my website The screening schedules are updated regularly and diligently (Although schedules are subject to change without prior notice, of course).

Also showing this week on Robinson’s Movieworld are the charming romantic comedies “Guess Who” and “The Wedding Date” you can even check out the little exhibit of wedding gowns at the theater lobby of the Movieworld. It’s a treat for those who love the sound of wedding bells. And on extended run is the crusader-era epic “Kingdom of Heaven” and “xXx2: The Next Level”

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