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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Comedy > National Treasure (DIsney Widescreen DVD)

National Treasure (Widescreen)


Picture: B-†††† Sound: B-†††† Extras: C+†††† Film: C+



Jerry Bruckheimer is now the king of the leave-your-brain-at-the-door popcorn movie, and at their best, they are at least watchable and interesting.Jon Turteltaub is one of his reliable stand-by directors and National Treasure (2004) was a surprise hit in the midst of a series of poorly performing films.


Nicolas Cage returns to the Bruckheimer fold again in a film that is not as good as Michael Bayís The Rock (1996), but is anxious to place Cage in the action genre as a Sean Connery descendent.This is most obvious when he shows up in a Diamonds Are Forever three-piece suit, right down to the bowtie.In the film, Ben Gates (Cage) is an adult ready to find a treasure of immense wealth he first heard of when he was a kid.Joined by a comic sidekick with more one-liners than Henny Youngman, meeting up with the inevitable female lead, and having a mortal enemy (Sean Bean), the 1980s action formula is played up to the outrage of Gates needing to steal the Declaration Of Independence (or is that borrow) to find a watermarked map.


Along with Bond, the film visually wants to keep reminding us of Indiana Jones, though this does not have enough of those kinds of cliffhangers. As compared to Paramountís more recent, disastrous Sahara, this film works better because it is more refined and not as sloppy.It also does not look as cheap and Cage is one of the best actors of his generation, constantly weaving between commercial fare like this and serious, important films that have brought him priceless respect.Though not a great example of the action genre, National Treasure is interesting to watch at least once for its successes as much as for its failures.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image is nicely shot by the great Caleb Deschanel, A.S.C., who thankfully abandons the desaturated colors of too many bad films of late and delivers stunning images that help save the film at times.One of the best cameramen in the business, hiring him is as James Bond as you can get, making sure you have top rate talent doing fine work to make the formula less problematic.As a matter of fact, the transfer is good, but simply cannot capture what he managed to get on the film screen as far as fine detail is concerned.An HD version will show better why down the line.The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is good, if typical of such Bruckheimer productions, but this does not totally so it justice versus how good it sounded in the theater.Too bad DTS was not an option here.


Extras include three commentary segments by the director:opening scene animatic, deleted scenes and alternate ending.It shows how they did their best to keep the formula lively making for an interesting study.You get three puzzles and four featurettes on the making of the film.One is Rileyís Decode This! Which goes with the puzzles.The others include one on the Knightís Templar (get that mystical Connery connection in there too), an on-location piece and Treasure Hunters Revealed.Even if the film does not impress, the extras here help make up for it, all coming together to be popcorn entertainment like A-studios could produce more often.It is not great, but it is at least consistent.National Treasure is worth your time if you are at least curious, but just donít go in with high expectations.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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