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Movie Review: National Treasure: Book of Secrets
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Tony D, Hardcore Film Maniac   |  
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National Treasure: Book of SecretsNational Treasure: Book of Secrets
Directed by Jon Turteltaub
Starring Nicolas Cage, Justin Bartha, Diane Kruger, Jon Voight, Helen Mirren
Rated PG
Release date: Dec. 21, 2007

National Treasure was that one movie that everyone hated to admit that they liked. Anytime that I would bring it up, someone would attempt to shank me just because I liked it, but you could tell it in their eyes that they liked it too. For a movie that was about finding treasure other than the boogers in your nostrils, it was pretty good. It wasn’t an Academy Award-winning movie, but it was a fun popcorn flick. I mean, SOMEONE else had to like it, because it made $173 million in the United States alone, and I know it just wasn’t me that paid into it.

And because someone else liked it, they decided that they could make a sequel. Normally, they would call this “cashing-in,” but I disagree right now. National Treasure: Book of Secrets is anything other than cashing-in. It’s difficult to explain how I feel about this movie. It’s not the better of the two films, but at least it tries to be. Nicolas Cage sure as hell makes up for the past couple movies that he has done within the past two years (and I LIKED Ghost Rider), as does Jon Voight (who before coming onto this project just got off of Bratz: The Movie and The Five People You Meet In Heaven). But that doesn’t necessary constitute this as being a good film.

Maybe this review is a bit biased just because I really do like the first one, but if you are looking for anything short of the first one, you’re pretty much looking at the exact same movie at the end. You know the story — these characters go looking for treasure and they get into trouble with the FBI and the CIA and other treasure hunters want to kill them and yadda yadda yadda. National Treasure: Book of Secrets, cash-in or not, is still a pretty damn fine flick for the holidays.

You remember the ending of the first film, right? It was like a happily ever after. Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) and Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) got three percent of the treasure, Ben and Abigail (Diane Kruger) got together, and Riley got a hot red Ferrari. Well, as in all sequels, everything bad happens to their lives. Ben and Abigail separate, Riley’s Ferrari has been towed because he forgot to pay taxes on it, and Abigail is now dating one of her co-workers. While Ben explains a history lesson to some people, a man (Ed Harris) stands up and embarrasses him, saying that Ben’s great-great-grandfather, Thomas Gates, was involved in the assassination of former President Abraham Lincoln.

Ben knows that this isn’t true, because his father (Jon Voight) told the story on how it was really his great-great-grandfather who was really trying to stop the assassination of him, who was taught by his father. It was a story passed down from generation to generation, but this may be false. In order to prove that his his ancestor really wasn’t involved, Ben must decipher a code on the back of one of the missing pages of the diary of John Wilkes Booth, the man who shot Lincoln. Ben, Riley, and Abigail travel around the world to prove Thomas Gates’s innocence, while looking for a treasure that may exist. Oh, and did I happen to mention that Ben kidnaps the President of the United States (Bruce Greenwood)? True…

While I didn’t have a problem with this, I have come to notice that this film seems like at the drawing board that they just threw locations into a pot and picked which ones to feature in the movie. I’m serious when I say that they show everything. They feature Buckingham Palace, the Eiffel Tower, the Library of Congress, Mount Vernon, Mount Rushmore, and the Oval Office. While they all add a bit to the story, it seems like that they just wanted these locations to be in here just to be there. And while that’s really the only problem I had while watching the film, it’s a pretty noticeable problem at that.

There are a few plot holes here and there that the usual moviegoer wouldn’t notice unless they paid very close attention, but one of the obvious plot holes takes place when Cage’s character kidnaps the President, but when he lets him go, the President asks Cage if he can look to see what page forty-seven of the President’s Secret Book is. Umm… if it’s called THE PRESIDENT’S secret book, then why can’t the President LOOK at it? Plus, we never do find out what is located on page 47, but maybe they’re saving it for the sequel. Hell, we all know that there will be a sequel. It already made enough to guarantee another one. And according to this President’s Secret Book, it contains information on missing moments of the Watergate, Area 51, and moon landings. There will be plenty of information for the next sequel.

Even though most of this stuff is fictional, I still think it’s pretty damn fascinating. One of my best subjects is history, and it is the only class that I will always get a good grade in. Even for the biggest history geeks, there is always something here in these films that will make you scream, “Ooh! I heard about that!” You will proceed to talk to the person next to you, and they just don’t want to hear about it. They make the biggest of geeks come out of their history closet.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets features the likes of three Oscar winners — Nicolas Cage, Jon Voight, and Helen Mirren. Granted they won’t win any Oscars for their roles here, but at least they’re having fun. Justin Bartha is the highlight of the film. He’s pretty much that guy who’s just there and doesn’t want to be there, so he shows it by taking it out on Cage and Kruger with sarcastic remarks. Also, it’s about time we see more of Ed Harris playing a bad guy.

So, do I recommend it? Yes and no. Yes for the people who love these kinds of movies and no for the people who hate these kinds of movies. Not everyone is looking for a fun popcorn movie that twists history around in knots. You know, if you’re really lucky, you can find Lions for Lambs somewhere in the United States, and if you really want to luck out, you can always go see Juno, which is really worth your money, sweat, and tears.

***½ out of ****

  • Jerry

    A fun film. I had a good time. Great review.

  • Nice review, Tony. I’m like you. I totally liked the first movie and I recall people telling me it sucked, asking how I could like it. Then it did well at the box office and where are all the naysayers? Hmm… they don’t remember saying they didn’t like it. Very convenient. As far as plot goes, I figured the sequel would just be more of the same and I’m totally fine with that.

  • Dr. Royce Clemens

    HERE’S A NAYSAYER!

    The entire conceit behind the film is flawed. If there’s a treasure that no one wants found, who made these elaborate clues telling any nimrod with the intelligence of a Hollywood sceenwriter exactly where it was? And fortunes DECREASE over time, they don’t INCREASE. When you find a quarter on the sidewalk, you don’t add it to the horde of quarters you locked away beneath Boston. You use it to buy a Coke or a newspaper.

    But I’m not angry about it and unlike some, I DO understand why people like it. It’s what a decade and a half without Indiana Jones does to people.

    But good review anyway, though.

  • I’ve never been someone who saw the first National Treasure movie and hated it. Yes, the plot was rather particularly outrageous… but you don’t go to a Jerry Bruckheimer film and expect small, grounded stories. I particularly liked the tight repartee between the characters… that really drove a lot of the movie for me. I might not always be ready to accept everything that was happening in the film, but the writing and acting always seemed to ring true.

    I thought The Wibberlies really missed the mark with the dialog writing in this movie. Wooden, wooden lines in spots. The actors tried to salvage what they could, but I thought it lacked the spark of the first film.

    Aside from that, Helen Mirren was under-utilized, as was Ed Harris.

    Good review, Tony D! Though does a review that ends with “So, do I recommend it? Yes and no.” really merit 3.5 out of 4 stars? Just a thought.

  • Tony DeFrancisco

    Well, the 3.5 rating is what I thought of it. It’s not taking in count whether or not others will like it.

  • Armand

    NT2 was not a bad film for those who did not catch NT1.

    But for those who did watched NT1, then they are not missing anything, well, only 1% of the movie is different from the 1st, having a bad villian!

    Midway thru the movie, I kind of realized that the whole script was a rehash of the 1st one and that none of the characters has changed nor shows any maturity.

    1) Same old doubts on Nic’s intuition – CHECK
    2) Same old clues but different location – CHECK
    3) Same old acting w/o character developments – CHECK
    4) Same old lines – CHECK

    I can go on but I guess you guys got the point by now.

    Totally a waste of money, time and talent. Next in line for Nic’s next movie NEXT 2 (pun intended)

    Rating – 1/5 ( 1 just because I am in a happy place right now )

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