National Treasure: Book Of Secrets (2007)

DVD Cover (Walt Disney Studios Collector's Edition)
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Overall Rating 63%
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Ranked #630
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Connections: National Treasure

Several years since Benjamin Franklin Gates found the Knight's Templar and became rich and famous. Now, another treasure hunter named Mitch Wilkinson has found what is a missing page of the diary of John Wilkes Booth, which contains clues to the location of a lost city of gold, Ben must compete against Mitch to find the lost city, he goes to France and Great Britain to find other clues and even peak inside the President's secret book to put the pieces of the puzzle together, his parents and his friends also help Ben find the lost city and to stay one step ahead of Mitch. --IMDb
Review by Chad
Added: June 26, 2008
A lot of people criticized National Treasure upon its release, but personally, I think that a lot of the complaints were unfounded. Yes, the film had its faults, and no, it wasn't a great film, but it was a perfectly acceptable night in front of the tube that featured an interesting concept. So, when the announcement of a sequel came out, I knew that I had to check it out eventually regardless of the fact that the first wasn't a movie-of-the-year candidate. Now, after having seen it, I can safely say that it does share a lot of the same issues as the original film, and even though the series still hasn't produced a classic, it was actually a step up in terms of quality... and dare I say it, the film also left me awaiting another sequel.

I think it's safe to say that we all know the general concept of the film given the combined success of the two releases in the series: Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) is a treasure hunter who just so happens to keep stumbling across cases in which the clues are embedded into national monuments and which have traces to important events in American history. The sequel is no different, and this one revolves around the assassination of Abraham Lincoln... or, more importantly, the events that were taking place down the street while this assassination was occurring. You see, Ben's great-great-grandfather was in a pub on that fateful night, and there, he was presented with an encoded message to decipher from an unknown man. The meaning of this puzzle will be made clear over the course of the film, but for now, we know that this scene ends with Grandpa getting shot and dying... but not before he throws some of the pages into a fire, ruining this stranger's chances at ever finding what it was that he was looking for.

In present time, we learn that this piece of history was actually being presented by Ben during a lecture, and at this point, a stranger stands up in the back of the room. Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris), the man in question, claims that things happened a little differently on that evening and that he has some of the pages that had supposedly been burnt to prove it. What piece of this puzzle is missing, you ask? Why, Grandpa Gates was actually in on the assassination, and he actually tried to burn those pages to cover up the fact that he was the ringleader of the entire affair. I'll leave the synopsis at that, but I will say that this leads to Ben setting out on an epic treasure hunt to clear his family's name, and coming along for the ride are his trusty sidekick Riley (Justin Bartha), his ex-wife Abigail (Diane Kruger), his dad Patrick (Jon Voight), and yes, even his mother Emily (Helen Mirren). It won't be easy, however, as Mitch and his cronies are on Ben's tail the entire time. Why? Well, watch the film and find out.

I realize that within twenty-four hours, there will be a handful of comments on this page claiming that this movie is "completely horrible", and we might even get one of those "worst movie ever" posts from people who saw my final score, skimmed the review, and started banging on their keyboards with angry fists. With that in mind, let's go ahead and get the negatives out of the way first, shall we? The first issue that I had with the film was the way that we really have to suspend our disbelief in order for the storyline to work. It's sort of far-fetched to believe that these riddles and clues have sat there unexplored for hundreds upon hundreds of years, yet our hero can stumble upon them and figure out what they mean within a matter of minutes.

I know, it wouldn't be very exciting if we had to wait for him to figure out what everything meant in real-time, and I also realize that other films of this nature - say, Indiana Jones - operate under the same line of thinking, but the writers were really pushing it with this release (and no, I'm not saying that this film is in the same league as Indiana Jones - simple comparison, folks).

It's far-fetched to believe that a clue leading to an ancient treasure has been on the Statue of Liberty for over two centuries, but I can buy that. When you ask me to believe that two guys can find it, figure out what it means, and know exactly where they need to go from there within just a matter of minutes, well... that's where the script starts to push things a little too far. I realize that this is vital to the storyline and that this is the whole concept, but making the characters work towards their goals makes the end result much more satisfying.

Really, that's one of the main issues with the film as a whole: it seems like the filmmakers were in a race to get from one scene to the next as quickly as possible, and as a result, the film feels rushed in more than just a couple of spots regardless of the two-hour running time. I realize that my next statement is almost blasphemy when said in conjunction with a big-budget action film, but a little less action and a little more pacing could have worked wonders with this movie.

On the positive side, I believe that the film succeeds at what it attempts to accomplish regardless of a few stumbles along the way. As an action film, it works: there are some unique scenes that are extremely fun to watch, and to say that the film ever gets boring would be a downright lie. As a film that attempts to bring something different to the table, it also succeeds; I enjoy the concept of clues that are hidden right in front of our eyes, and even though it had been done in the original film, it still felt fresh with this release. I also enjoyed the way that real-world events were incorporated into the mystery, and even though certain facts were exaggerated, simplified, or downright wrong, the overall presentation works.

Acting? Well, you've got Nicolas Cage, who is... well, he's Nicolas Cage, you either love him or you hate him. I think he's an underrated actor who has made some bad decisions in regards to which roles he takes, but he's perfectly fine in this particular film. Justin Bartha gets a little annoying at times with the bumbling sidekick role, but this could very well be attributed to the fact that I don't like that particular role regardless of who's playing it, so your mileage may vary. The rest of the cast is acceptable, but some of the real stars of the show are the people in the minor roles: namely, Harvey Keitel as the FBI agent and Bruce Greenwood as the President of the United States of America. These are two roles that are important to the storyline but minor in the grand scheme of the film, so the fact that both performances were great was a welcome surprise.

Overall, it's a slightly-above average film that outshines its predecessor. It's not perfect and it won't win you over if you don't think the concept is neat going into it, but if you think that the idea is enjoyable or if you had fun with the previous film, you'll probably get two hours of entertainment out of this one. 7/10.
Lucid Dreams #1: Lucid Dreams - added 05/30/2010, 10:38 PM
I felt the same thing I did for the last movie, which was just another average adventure movie. 6/10
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