Friday, August 26, 2005

DVD Review - Sahara

A catchey title, and another free DVD to add to the folders of tosh even if they did cut it to pices on This Is Wherever DVD Reviews cos I can't write to even the most basic word count...

"Potentially hot stuff..."

'Sahara' is the first of what Paramount is hoping will be their new action adventure franchise, a modern day 'Indiana Jones' or a much better 'Tomb Raider' (but with more Johnson's than 'National Treasure') with that healthy early Bond feel that (sensibly) takes itself less than seriously. Fingers crossed for them.

Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) is obsessed by a big boat. This master explorer, ex-navy seal, and improbably named 'Clive Cussler' character (I've just read the first book and enjoyed it, with a pinch of salt) has been looking for a lost ironclad that disappeared at the end of the American Civil war, chock-full to the plimsoll line with Confederate bullion, and he thinks he might just have a lead. The trail leads to Mali; a country in the middle of a civil war and governed by a particularly nasty warlord by the name of General Kazim (Lennie James). Pitt and his world-weary and long suffering navy buddy Al Giordino (Steve Zahn) have only seventy-two hours to sneak into the country, but this'll to be no holiday-in-the-sun...

McConaughey leaps salamon-like to the challenge in a charismatic and physical role that could well shove him back into the big leagues. Steve Zahn plays, well, Steve Zahn really, no change there, but I suppose he's a natural at it. His character Al provides some outstanding and supportive comic relief, andding a crin and smoothing the cheese. The "Madonna of Madrid", Penélope Cruz [oh yes, ya would], plays Eva Rojas, a World Health Organisation doctor investigating a new plague that is spreading out of Mali, and it's a strong role for a gifted actress who brings a dash of class to the movie. In general the performances are good and the film has a real sense of fun as well as adventure, making the escapades of Dirk Pitt a welcome addition to the action adventure genre. This film isn't just about blindly hunting for treasure; there are interwoven threads of African Civil War and man-made plague, which oddly make the story more plausible and watchable than the usual mainstream Hollywood flick. Look out for William H. Macy as 'The Admiral' and Lambert Wilson playing another sleazy 'slightly-foreign-businessman' with effortless ease.

On the negative side, however, if Paramount want something to be 'the latest new action franchise' they should pull out a few more stops with the DVD extras. Alas we get just the basics a weak arsed docco. A lack of additional content isn't worthy of boycot, but in this day and age we expect 'better from the medium', and it's a good job the overall quality of the film makes up for the deficit.

Movie: 4 out of 5
Extras: 2 out of 5