National Treasure 2 Book of Secrets (DVD & Blu-Ray)

Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
I need to formulate a standard grading system to convey my opinions of covers and menus. I have noticed they all fall under a certain limited number of styles. National Treasure 2 is the “action adventure” style. The big name star featured in some active pose. The gold is a common touch for this genre, but this time it’s actually a big part of the movie so I can handle the garishness. It’s functional, if not very interesting.

The menu is the same, functional, but not much to brag about. I want something spectacular, but then it is just a menu…

Features: 8/10

  • Audio Commentary With Director Jon Turtletaub & Jon Voight – I’m not a huge fan of Turtletaub, but Voight is interesting to listen to, off and on. The movie itself isn’t enough incentive to sit through the commentary, and the commentary isn’t enough to sit through the movie, there ya go.
  • Deleted Scenes With Director Introduction – Some deleted scenes in this little collection might have been better put back in the movie and it would have benefited, but the director actually says “movies are too long”….ugh so that explains why things got cut.
  • Bloopers & Outtakes – Famous people screwing up at their jobs, fascinating.
  • Secrets Of A Sequel Featurette – Why make a sequel to a movie that wasn’t a box office smash? Good question. They all seem to be convinced it was worth continuing the life and adventures of the Gates family of treasure hunters. This is just talking heads in a love fest for the franchise etc.
  • The Book Of Secrets On Location Featurette – Bruckheimer talks, the director talks, Cage talks, they all talk to the camera about how great this story is and how wonderful it is to work with each other.
  • Street Stunts Creating The London Chase – More behind the scenes of what I would say is the biggest action scene in the movie, biggest in terms of feeling like a legitimate sequence as opposed to the more hokey bits later on.
  • Inside The Library Of Congress Featurette – How did they get that library of congress to look so authentic??? Hmmm watch and find out.
  • Underground Action Featurette – The sets for any underground cavernous scene in action movies are always the same, styrofoam rocks and a studio full of water. It all seems a tad unoriginal.
  • Cover Story Crafting The Presidents Book – How the scrapbook in the movie was put together by the props team, not that interesting for me, and I love behind the scenes stuff.
  • Evolution Of A Golden City Featurette – Taking the ideas of what a golden city might look like and getting that onto the big screen is not a straightforward process, even if I wasn’t impressed with the whole City of Gold in the movie, it did take a lot of effort to get it made.
  • Knights Of The Golden Circle Featurette – Who were the KGC and what is the “true” history behind this movie interpretation of history.
  • Blu-Ray Exclusive Book Of History Interactive Game & Trivia Track – This is a great extra! If you love the movie you will really enjoy the trivia, the whole ‘game’ feature. You watch the movie again with a track of questions about the movie and other movies. You can play, save, and come back to it later, so you don’t have to watch the whole thing through at once.
  • Blu-Ray Exclusive Two Additional Deleted Scenes –  More deleted scenes which are not really that much of an extra for me.

Movie: 6/10
I will come right out with it, this movie is barely above average for me. I liked the first one, National Treasure, but this time it was all too forced, too much recycling of the same old stuff, an not enough oomph! Yes, I want oomph in my action movies. Ok, if I can’t have that I at least want to be dazzled, distracted, entertained beyond the mildly amused level. National Treasure 2 didn’t do it for me.

Ben Gates, treasure hunter, is back in action this time trying to clear the name of his great great grandfather who has been implicated in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He enlists his almost ex-girlfriend from the first movie, his father, sidekick and even his mother to fight the forces of badness who are Ed Harris. That sounds like a kick ass movie. Unfortunately it suffers from a lot of leaks here and there that cause all the potential to slip away and we are left with a sort of, kind of hum drum movie. It’s not bad, it’s just not good and I have no way to clarify my opinion, so hopefully you have a lot of telepathic abilities to read my mind since words are kind of failing me:) I’ll give a try though. Here we go.

I like Cage, but this is like luke warm Cage. He’s just being his standard phoned in stand by character. I realize that’s what called for in this type of flick, but come on, the guy has skills. Don’t bury them behind bad dialogue and cookie cutter action.

I like Diane Kruger as the love interest, but the character has become bland. She was interesting in the first one because she was resisting the whole conspiracy theory thrown at her by Gates and his sidekick. Now, the device a story blip that the relationship forged in the first movie between the action hero and the token female is in peril and she again is resistant to the whole adventure.

The sidekick is ok, he’s not knee slapping funny, but he has his moments. I think the actor is better then the role and the dialogue, so that’s a good thing.

John Voight, same as same as…just playing the dad who happens to have a lot of convenient knowledge stored in his brain. He does shine in the scenes with Helen Mirren, and so does she. They are great together and for me, the stars of the show. I would like to see a movie of just them on an adventure. Are you reading this Bruckheimer??

Ed Harris as the bad guy sounds like a brilliant move, but it doesn’t turn out that way. He was so much more threatening in The Rock, but still with that essence of being a fallen hero. This time around he’s just there. He’s not particularly scary and doesn’t give the vibe that he will really do anyone any harm. I like a BAD guy to be menacing and I want to be totally convinced that he’s able and willing to crush the hero of the movie. But that’s just me:)

The special effects are, well, let me put it this way, there’s not one scene that’s amazing or “wow”. The underground set is so mundane even the city of gold doesn’t save it. I think I would rather watch a bad movie with great special effects or a great movie with bad special effects than a blah movie with blah special effects and that’s what National Treasure is for me, just kind of blah all the way around.

That about wraps it up. The blah factor is an unfortunate thing to have happen to a franchise that does have potential. I say give Voight and Mirren the next movie and I’ll be happy:) It’s fun enough to get through if you check your brain at the door and don’t look to close or question many of the plot points. It would be a good family DVD night movie.

Video & Audio: (By Ascully): 8/10
We took a look at both the DVD & Blu-Ray versions of the movie this week, and I must say the Blu-Ray transfer is light years ahead of the slightly soft DVD release. I think I am actually getting more and more used to HD movies. We watch them on a 104 inch screen using a 1080p projector, therefore even the best standard DVD transfers, like National Treasure 2, come up a little short. The Blu-Ray release is really exceptional as this is a recent movie all filmed on HD cameras I assume, the colors are vivid and the dark scenes at the start of the movie are well shadowed and easy to see.

Audio is handled well on both formats using the TRUEHD codec for the Blu-Ray release and Dolby 5.1 for the standard release, both sound exceptional even on the standard DVD, I would go as far to say this is a showcase movie in terms of the sound it will put into your Home Theatre. During the London chase scene the bullets seem to fly over your head and a really nice touch is in the menus which unfold like steps in a ancient tomb with a satisfying LFE hit on your subwoofer as each step comes down.

As I said in this weeks Podcast this isn’t the best movie in the world, I really prefer the first installment but the presentation on both home disc formats is impressive to say the least, Disney have the HD format down pat even at this early stage in the game I am looking forward to seeing what else they can do with the Blu-Ray format.

Value: 4/10
This is purely a rental in my opinion. I don’t need or want it on my shelf if it’s over $4.00 (that includes Blu-Ray). The extras don’t help the value even though there are quite a few to explore.

Overall Score 6/10