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United States, 2007
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub
Written By: Marianne & Cormac Wibberley
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Sean Bean, Jon Voight, Helen Mirren, Harvey Keitel, Ed Harris, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha
Running Time: 123 minutes
Rated PG-13 for some violence and action
This review was originally published February 19th, 2008.
Remember National Treasure? Yeah, me neither.
I mean, I remember there being a movie called National Treasure. I remember it starred Nicolas Cage, and had something to do with revisionist American history. But that’s about it. Don’t get me wrong—I had fun for those two hours, but everything in that movie was pure, instantly-forgettable fluff, and it’s been three years since. I don’t remember any plot points, any character names, or even how it ended (aside from the requisite good-guys-winning thing). But regardless, the film made money, and under Hollywood statute 14.B.2, every film that makes money must receive a sequel. Enter National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
So at least we’ve been spared a Roman numeral in the title. And here’s more good news: it’s a fun little film. It’s not necessarily better than the first, but it’s not any worse either. Director Jon Turteltaub (Cool Runnings, Phenomenon) keeps the pace quick and light, and star Nicolas Cage handles everything with a smirk (much as he did with the last one).
The plot, such as it is, is essentially the same as the plot of the first film, albeit with a little less DaVinci Code and a little more Raiders of the Lost Ark. Cage reprises his role as Benjamin Franklin Gates, the direct descendant of his namesake, who spends his time exposing conspiracy theories throughout history. In the first film, as you may or may not remember, he discovered a large cache of treasure hidden by George Washington and his ilk; in this, he’s going after the Lost City of Gold in order to clear the good name of one of his ancestors, who’s been implicated in the murder of Abraham Lincoln (yeah, don’t ask).
As I’ve said, there’s a bit more Indy this time around, as the film finds Gates and his companions hopping from point to point on the globe, trying to track down the clues that point the way to the City. There are some techno-spy sequences set in Buckingham Palace, some thrilling car chases, and some “push-that-rotting-corpse-aside-so-we-can-find-the-secret-switch”-type moments. Really, there’s something for everyone here, even the romance crowd, who will get to see two estranged couples get back together (I’m really not spoiling anything by saying this).
This is much like the first film, however, and whatever transpires on the screen will undoubtedly be forgotten by the time the next sequel rolls around. You’ll definitely have fun—I did—and I’m willing to bet that no one’s going to this movie expecting anything more. Just don’t expect to learn American history, and don’t expect to laugh very much (the lone funny moment is in the trailer—sorry).
If you need an excuse to go, though, here’s a good one: the feature presentation is preceded by “How to Hook up Your Home Theater,” the first solo Goofy short since 1961 (seriously). That alone is pretty much worth the price of admission.