There are a lot of dumb movies out there. But there’s a good kind of dumb and a bad kind of dumb. National Treasure falls into the good dumb category. Nicholas Cage plays Ben Gates, a treasure hunter, an archaeologist I’m really not sure. But his mission is to steal the Declaration of Independence in order to prevent the “bad” archaeologists from taking it. Make sense? There are hidden clues, apparently, in this document which lead to hidden treasure. A treasure Gates’ grandfather (played by Christophe… Plummer) told him about when he was a child. In essence, this movie is part Indiana Jones and part Da Vinci’s Code.
There are plenty of explosions and chases, no worries there. There’s a high level of silliness here, not to mention Scooby Doo logic. But Nicholas Cage is perfectly cast. He is an actor who can walk that fine line between gravity and camp. There’s also a love interest and a wise cracking sidekick (played by Diane Kruger and Justin Bartha, respectively). Both performances, particularly Bartha’s, take a refreshing crack at the action movie archetypes. Sean Bean is also along for the ride as the main baddie. Bean is always worth watching.
National Treasure can be heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, and 5.1 French if you’re feeling adventurous. This is a fine mix. All speakers get a workout. There are plenty of explosions, creaking ships, and echo chambers to justify buying that expensive stereo system. Dialogue is crisp and clean.
A fine transfer. The 2.35:1 widescreen presentation gives the movie the scope it needs. This is a very clean looking picture, with a minimum of grain. The palette is wonderful to look at; blacks are solid and colors are deep. There are some moments of edge enhancement, but those moments are fleeting. This is a great looking disc.
Now there are a lot of different little features on this disc. But you have to “decode” the clues in order to get to the next level of extras. I was successful. So I can tell you about them. But I won’t give you the codes, hee hee.
Now on the first level there is a brief on location featurette. It’s short (about 10 minutes), but we get to see how things get blowed up real good. We also have two deleted scenes, with a director’s intro and commentary. There’s an intriguing opening animatic, with optional director’s commentary. Bascically, this is a CGI demonstration of how the film’s opening should look. Finally, there is a short alternate ending feature, with optional director’s commentary. The commentary here is informative. Now, if you figure out the code, you can make it to the next level.
The next level contains a short featurette called Treasure Hunters Revealed. This features interviews with real life treasure hunters. I didn’t know these people existed. But I guess they do. Riley Poole’s Decode This! is a short game for kids. I didn’t find it too interesting. The Templar Knights is a short, but fascinating look at the Knights and the Freemasons. The narration is a bit off putting, but well worth talking a look at. Finally, Verizon Bonus is an annoying advertisement.
So if you get the code, you can make it to the final level and find, a bonus trivia track. This track runs throughout the movie; tidbits of information pop up on the screen from time to time. A nice hidden treasure
National Treasureis dumb, but fun. People, these days, seem to be fascinated with codes and conspiracies. Treasure’s boffo box office can attest to the fact. Sometimes you need these kinds of movies to get all that art house stuff out of your system. With quality audio and video, not to mention lots of little extras for the adventurous, this movie is definitely a treasure worth looking for.
Special Features List
- On Location featurette
- Deleted Scenes
- Opening Animatic
- Alternate Ending
- Treasure Hunters Revealed
- Riley Poole’s – Decode This!
- The Templar Knights
- Verizon Advertisement
- Trivia Track