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The Movie Like National Treasure That Adventure Fans Need To See

In 2003, novelist Dan Brown initiated an international craze when he published "The Da Vinci Code." Following the exploits of symbologist Robert Langdon, the novel ignited our innate curiosity into all things ancient and conspiratorial. The premiere of the 2004 film "National Treasure" was perfectly timed to slake the public's thirst for Dan Brown-esque intrigue. And the Nicholas Cage-led film had action and adventure, light comedy, and a blossoming romance, all set against a backdrop of a centuries-old conspiracy and clues-hidden-in-artifacts theme.

In the movie, Cage plays Ben Gates, a cryptologist seeking to uncover the location of an ancient treasure that is believed to be hidden in America. With the help of the tech-savvy Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and archivist Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger), Gates works to unravel numerous coded clues — including one located on the back of the Declaration of Independence — before a rival treasure hunter (Sean Bean) can lay claim to the treasure.

For the rest of the 2000s, studios released numerous films with essentially the same format, including two films based on Dan Brown's Robert Langdon books and a fourth installment of Indiana Jones. Even Matthew McConaughey starred in two movies fitting the clue-and-conspiracy genre, "Fool's Gold" and "Sahara," though the latter is a movie that, despite poor reviews and box-office haul, is a must-watch for fans of "National Treasure."

Sahara is the perfect watch for fans of National Treasure

Similar to "National Treasure," "Sahara," which is based on a Clive Cussler novel of the same name, involves the search for a long-buried treasure closely linked to American history. McConaughey plays Dirk Pitt, a member of the National Underwater and Marine Agency, who, with the help of partner Al Giordino (Steve Zahn) and Dr. Eva Rojas (Penelope Cruz), races against time — and rival treasure hunters — to find the long-lost Confederate warship Texas, which is believed to hold the Confederacy's treasury.

Despite an impressive budget of $130 million, "Sahara" failed to become the blockbuster Paramount Pictures had hoped, earning only $119 million worldwide. The film also failed to impress critics; "Sahara" holds only a 38% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Those results, however, do not reflect the film's true quality. Certainly, "Sahara" has its issues. The script falters at times, and the plot occasionally gets a bit muddy. Compared to the early "Indiana Jones" films, which for many are the gold standard in the genre, the Matthew McConaughey-thrilled just can't compete. Yet when viewed on its own, without a comparison to the best of the best, "Sahara" ticks most of the boxes the genre promises. McConaughey and Cruz have an enjoyable on-screen chemistry, and Zahn perfectly fills the role of the weary side-kick.

The film was never intended to be an Oscar contender or to redefine the clue-and-conspiracy genre (though Paramount surely would have liked it to kick off a franchise). It does, however, serve as an enjoyable popcorn movie that allows its audience to take a 2-hour excursion into the genre, with some laughs and action along the way. In his review, critic Jeff Strickler perhaps best summed up the film, saying: "The main objective is to have fun, and in that regard, 'Sahara' accomplishes its mission handily."