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PCR # 263  (Vol. 6, No. 14)  This edition is for the week of April 4--10, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

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 by William Moriaty
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Sin City....Countdown to Infinite Crisis
 by John Lewis
Go Ahead Wal-Mart, Make My Day....My UFO Story
 by Matt Drinnenberg
The Pope....Movie Notes....Next Week....Jaws: The Story, Part 13
 by Mike Smith
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Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Penelope Cruz, Steve Zahn, Delroy Lindo and William H. Macy
Directed by: Breck Eisner
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 7 minutes

One day, while leaving old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore after an Orioles game, I found myself walking next to author Tom Clancy. After telling him how much I enjoyed his books I asked him if, when he was writing "The Hunt For Red October," he had an actor in mind to play his hero, Jack Ryan. He told me that he had envisioned Tom Selleck. I told him that Selleck would have been a good choice and reminded him that Selleck was also the first choice to play Indiana Jones. However, due to his contractual obligation to do "Magnum P.I." he had to turn the role down. I mention this because Dirk Pitt, the hero in a series of Clive Cussler novels, among them "Sahara," is a character best described as Tom Clancy meets Indiana Jones.

The story begins in Africa where Eva (Cruz), a worker for the World Health Organization, is investigating a disease that is slowly spreading across the continent. As much as she tries to warn the authorities, she finds herself fighting local beaurocrats. Enter Dirk Pitt (McConaughey) and his partner, Al (Zahn). Dirk has spent much of his life searching for a mysterious vessel that was reportedly last seen during the Civil War. Dirk's research has brought them to Africa, where he will soon cross paths with Eva and take her along on his adventures. And those adventures are what make "Sahara" a great escape at the theatre.

It's been quite a while since Matthew McConaughey has really shined on screen. While always giving a good performance, he didn't jump out at you like he did in earlier films like "A Time to Kill" and "ED TV." Here he seems to be having the time of his life and his exuberance is contagious. Zahn is the perfect companion. Like Hope and Crosby in one of their "Road" movies, they bicker constantly, but their friendship is obvious. They come across as two guys you'd be happy to hang out with. Cruz finally has a role that allows her to play off her beauty without being stuffy. Her on screen chemistry with McConaughey is evident and it is no surprise that the two actors are now a couple off screen as well. Director Eisner does an excellent job keeping the story moving. His sweeping camera work draws you so far into the action you can feel the sand under your feet. Hopefully the film will have the kind of success necessary to turn Dirk Pitt's adventures into the kind of franchise Paramount hasn't had since, ironically, Indiana Jones.

On a scale of zero to four stars I give "Sahara"  Three stars

This week's movie review of "Sahara" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.