by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Nicolas Cage as BENJAMIN FRANKLIN GATES
Diane Kruger as ABIGAIL CHASE
Justin Bartha as RILEY POOLE
Sean Bean as IAN HOWE
Jon Voight as PATRICK HENRY GATES
Harvey Keitel as SADUSKY
Christopher Plummer JOHN ADAMS GATES
Directed by: John Turteltaub
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“National Treasure” is one of those rare film that defies logic. Before the film was first released, I remember seeing trailers and thinking, “Oh, this is gonna suck big time.”
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But it didn’t. In fact, “National Treasure” was a lot of fun. It wasn’t quite the “Indiana Jones of the new millennium,” as it is quoted on the DVD case, but it was still a good flick. There were rough spots in there, with some of Nicolas Cage’s acting and his rocky chemistry with co-star Diane Kruger, but overall the film was a fun little action flick.
Nicolas Cage stars as Ben Gates, the last in the bloodline of patriots sworn to keep safe a hidden treasure that dates back to the days of the Knights Templar. However, Gates has somewhat fallen from grace and is helping a greedy industrialist (Sean Bean), who wants to find the treasure for himself.
Clues to the location of this treasure are found in some of the most significant items of American history, including the Declaration of Independence, the Liberty Bell and the 100 dollar bill. After being almost killed by his former partner, Gates strikes out on his own to protect the treasure.
I think my wife said it best when she commented on her favorite part of the film being the clues in the treasure hunt. Upon a second viewing on DVD, the plot points and twists still held up. And it’s rare to have a film that inspires you to learn more about American history because of everything that was presented. I mean, come on, how many of us really knew who Silence Dogood was before we saw this film?
I found when I watched this on DVD, my initial impressions were strengthened, including the fact that I thought Justin Bartha stole the show as the character of Riley. The character was one of those that I normally get really annoyed with in films, but Bartha’s portrayal had a warm familiarity to it. Too bad the other big release on his resume was the retarded guy from “Gigli.”
The one thing missing from this DVD is a director commentary. John Turteltaub provides some insightful introductions and commentary to deleted scenes an alternate ending, so he doesn’t have a problem talking about his work. Instead of a commentary, there is a pop-up trivia track that can be accessed by finding secret codes in the DVD. (Don’t worry. The secret codes aren’t all that complicated... considering one is a word scramble of the word “TREASURE.”)
There are several featurettes, including an on-location behind-the-scenes look and a brief history of the Knights Templar. However, the most interesting featurette is a profile of several modern-day treasure hunters. It’s a nice reminder that people like this really exist, and while there’s excitement and thrills in their lives, there’s still a lot of research they have to do.
One of the more intriguing special features on this disc is a segment called “Riley’s Decode This,” which is narrated by Justin Bartha as Riley. This feature gives a history of different coding devices and techniques. It allows the viewer a chance to solve coded puzzles. If you can solve them (again, don’t worry because they’re not too complicated), you’ll be given special key codes to get into the trivia track.
Ultimately, “National Treasure” is a fun movie that can work for the whole family. It’s exciting and doesn’t have anything that’s inappropriate for kids, but it has enough going on with the plot to keep the parents interested as well.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (2.35:1). French language track. French and Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.