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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Comedy > National Treasure: Collectors Edition (Blu-Ray) + National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (Blu-Ray + DVD/Disney)

National Treasure: Collectors Edition (Blu-Ray) + National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (Blu-Ray + DVD/Disney)


Picture: B+/B+/B-     Sound: B+/B+/B-     Extras: B/A-/B+     Films: B/C+



There are no whips.  There is no fear of snakes (unless studio heads count). And there is not even Sean Connery.  The National Treasure films, which greatly borrowed from the Indiana Jones series, managed to capture the world’s attention with its combination of history (no matter how inaccurate) with an all star cast and adventure.  The first film was an interesting experience that this reviewer truly enjoyed and in turn led him to be very excited for a potential sequel.  Sadly, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets is scattered, predictable, inconsistent, and pure nonsense.  No matter how much potential the first film had, the sequel threw it all out the window with a ridiculous plot that any 3rd grader could see through as unfathomable.


A rundown of the first film has been given twice on this site, so this reviewer will refer readers to those reviews for plot summations.  The two past DVD reviews are listed below as follows:









The second film, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets reunites the cast from the first film plus a few other notable names to resurrect a film concept that has been going strong since Indiana Jones started it 25 plus years ago.  Whereas the first film lightly and convincingly followed the ‘Indiana Jones model’ with its solid use of historical clues and adventure, the second film is an inconceivable mess of mixed up history and outlandish stunts that is more than forgettable.  The plot again follows our adventurous historian Benjamin Gates (Nicholas Cage) as he sets out on a mission to clear his family’s name after Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) steps forward with incriminating evidence that the Gates ancestors were involved in the Lincoln assassination.  With a ‘long lost’ page from John Wilkes Booth’s diary implicating the Gates Family, Benjamin enlists the help of his father (Jon Voight), his smart mouthed friend Riley (Justin Bartha), and his now estranged girlfriend Abigail (Diane Kruger).  It seems that somewhere between the first and second film that Ben and Abigail have managed to stir up some relationship turmoil; the only problem is that it makes the audience go ‘who cares…get on with it.’


Armed with his band of historians, Benjamin and his friends set out to uncover the truth of his family’s involvement in the Lincoln murder.  The Booth diary page, however, holds more information than Gates at first realizes and Wilkinson is hot on his trail in hopes that Gates will unwittingly lead him to the treasure that he has spent his entire life searching for.  The film quickly changes (as many would have guessed) from a simple historical challenge, to a full out blow em’ up, shoot em’ up, rivalry based adventure.  Helen Mirren shows up as Ben Gates mother and Harvey Keitel once again returns as a more than understanding/helpful FBI agent.  There are small emotional aspects to the film like the Benjamin and Abigail quarrel or the Patrick Gates and Emily Appleton [Ben’s mom and dad] quarrel or the Riley always being left out issue that just add up to useless, forgettable, and in many ways ridiculous.  Benjamin Gates sets out on a mission to clear his family’s name, but just may have gotten himself into more than he can handle.  After all, the sequel was a little too much for Jon Turteltaub to handle.


This reviewer has obviously already expressed his frustrated opinion of the second National Treasure film.  National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets can easily be labeled forgettable with its outlandish use of stunts that historians just would not do, ridiculous use of skewed historical fact, and an overall sense of film making carelessness that caters more to the studio wanting a sequel than to the fact that fans wanted one. 


Though the first film had its own brand of inconsistencies and historical fictitiousness, it was still fun and was solid as a stand alone film.  Is National Treasure the next Indiana Jones? No, not even close.  But it did utilize that same brand (though tainted) of humor and adventure that its Indiana Jones predecessors taped into decades before.  Will fans fondly remember the exact storyline and characters?  No, but it was a good movie experience nevertheless.


The technical features on these three recent releases will not go down in history as amazing, but overall give an excellent presentation.  The Blu-Ray Releases of National Treasure and National Treasure 2 are far superior to the standard DVD releases.  The picture on both National Treasure and National Treasure 2 Blu-Ray are presented in a 1080p High Definition/2.35 X 1 Widescreen that is amazingly clean, clear, and crisp with bright colors that are admirable.  The only issues with the picture seems to lie with light/dark issues that occasionally appear in the darker sequences and at times the picture seeming softer than it should, but overall very nice.  The sound in its English Dolby TrueHD (48 kHz/24-bit) presentation is solid with a strong underlying musical score for most of the film and crisp dialogues that even the faster paced action sequences project extremely well.  The sound quality lives up to the Jerry Bruckheimer tradition with the use of epic scores to create a wall of sound to support the action of the film, but in many ways lacks the memorable vision that films like Pirates of the Caribbean brought to the table.  The extras are plentiful on these three releases; the Blu-Ray releases having exclusives that can not be found anywhere else.


The picture and sound quality of National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets on DVD can not live up to the Blu-Ray release, but is still not bad.  The picture is presented in the same 2.35 X 1 Widescreen as the Blu-Ray release, but does not have the sharpness or color level that is observed on Blu-Ray.  The DVD is still a nice visual presentation, but once you see Blu, DVD may make you red.  The sound presentation is also nice, but the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround presentation does not compare to the TrueHD sound table, not containing the exact punch and fluidness that is, once again, found on Blu-Ray.


National Treasure on Blu-Ray contains the same exact extras as the DVD 2-Disc Collector’s Edition release that is reviewed elsewhere on this site, with the exception of two added extras.  The two added extras include a very nice featurette entitled Mission History: Inside the Declaration of Independence and an additional Audio Commentary Track with director Jon Turteltaub and actor Justin Bartha.  The additional extras that were added from the single DVD release to the 2-Disc Collector’s were nothing fantastic as previously reviewed, but the addition of a new featurette and new commentary were very well welcomed.


National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets on Blu-Ray contains all the extras that are on the DVD release, plus two additional special features.  On both versions of the film fans will find deleted scenes with introductions from Jon Turteltaub, some outtakes and bloopers, Audio Commentary with Jon Turteltaub and Jon Voight, and eight different featurettes.  One featurette entitled Secrets of the Sequel dives more into the mythology that inspired the sequel, while other featurettes like The Book of Secrets on Location, Street Stunts: Creating the London Chase, Inside the Library of Congress, Underground Action, and Cover Story: Crafting the Presidents Book, Evolution of a Golden City, Knights of the Golden Circle all center on the making of the film and collectively give an immense look into how the less than stellar sequel was crafted.  While the film may not have been the best, Disney has done an excellent job in letting fans observe how every aspect of the film was created.  The two exclusive Blu-Ray extras really top off the special features section with a nice featurette entitled Book of History: The Fact and Fiction of National Treasure: Book of Secrets that challenges the viewers’ history knowledge and a second extra that includes 2 additional deleted scenes with Jon Turteltaub.  Overall, the plethora of Bonus Features on the National Treasure 2 DVD and Blu-Ray could keep any fan busy for hours.


This reviewer was very entertained by the Indiana Jones inspired feel of the first National Treasure, with its solid mix of pseudo-historical fact with adventurous action.  National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, however, was a big disappointment.  Whereas the film was still mildly entertaining as a ‘popcorn film,’ it lacked the heart, style, and solid storyline of the first film; even the brilliant Helen Mirren seemed bored and out of place in the film.  Whereas the first film took itself seriously as a standalone film with a plot and adventure, Book of Secrets treated itself as a pointless sequel to a good film.  This reviewer is suddenly reminded of Ocean’s 12 when thinking about Book of Secrets, though maybe ‘National Treasure 3’ could slightly redeem 2 like Ocean’s 13 did.  History is written by the winners, so National Treasure 2 does not have much to say.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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