Genre: Action/Adventure; Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Penelope Cruz, Lambert Wilson, Delroy Lindo, William H. Macy, Steve Zahn; Director: Breck Eisner; Author: Thomas Donnelly, James V. Hart, Joshua Oppenheimer, John C. Richards; Release Date Wide: 04/08/2005; Runtime (in minutes): 127; MPAA Rating: PG-13; Distributor: Paramount Pictures

In Sahara, Matthew McConaughey is the literary hero Dirk Pitt, searching for a U.S. Civil War ship loaded with gold and entombed in Africa. Penelope Cruz is a beautiful doctor fighting a deadly plague. Steve Zahn is an actor apparently determined not to have Paul Giamatti’s career. (Zahn’s as likable as ever playing Dirk’s buddy; we just want to see him stretch beyond the spotty action-adventure.)

EXTRAS Two director commentaries is self-aggrandizing, but we’d have forgiven Breck Eisner (son of Michael) if he’d discussed the McConaughey-Cruz romance in either. His solo audio track is full of boring film-school footnotes, but the one with McConaughey — clearly recorded before Sahara’s release, since they’re talkin’ sequel — is fun and informative: You have to know the code word to get a camel to run fast (so thieves don’t get far). The deleted scenes and making-ofs can’t compete.

Originally posted August 30 2005 — 12:00 AM EDT

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