National Treasure

Cover and Menu: 7/10
The cover is ok, but this is not a big time world traveling action mega flick. The colors and design try to hint at an Indiana Jones type style, but that couldn’t be farther from the way the film hit the big screen. The menu is very boring with just links to the extra features and some live action clips from the movie. We all just love seeing clips from a movie we haven’t seen YET!!

Extras: 8/10
You can only watch the first page of extras but then you have to crack a code to get into the rest of the good stuff. Get a pencil and paper out before you get started.

  • Alternate Ending With Optional Commentary: I’m not a big fan of alternate endings. What I mean is, if they had an ending that the writer and director originally wanted to do, then why did we end up with a different version from that? And once you show us the true alternate ending, why then tease us with the first choice…we are not all amused with second best! In this case the movie’s not that great so any ending would have suited me.
  • Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary: Delete delete delete If we are going to get these babies on the DVD why not give us a few dozen. They always give up just a handful and it seems like a way to fill the space on the disc.
  • National Treasure On Location Making Of Featurette: Now these are the kinds of extras I like to see on a DVD. Interviews with the cast and crew, showing how they make sets, do stunts, and how the story gets formed around some legendary tales of treasure hunting.
  • The Knights Templar Featurette: There is a real legendary tale of the Knights Templar who are reported to have protected a treasure passed down from generation to generation. From ancient Egypt to the founding fathers of the United States these tales are full of honor and mystery. It’s all good fun, but some people in this short documentary feature take this “history” very seriously.
  • Treasure Hunters Revealed Featurette: In the real world, not just in the movies, there are people who devote themselves to finding lost treasures, ship wrecks, and hidden goodies all over this great planet of ours. This little feature show cases a few of these brave and driven folks. I only wish it was longer and showed more of the worlds treasures. I guess I’ll just have travel the world on my own dime, or apply for The Amazing Race so I can get out and about to see it all.
  • Riley’s Decode This Featurette: Riley from the movie goes through a lesson in code breaking including some interesting details about hieroglyphics. At the end of it you get a chance to decode some puzzles for yourself.
  • Opening Scene Animatic With Optional Director’s Commentary: The opening scenes are choreographed with that modern day thing called CGI. This extra shows an animated version of the live action scenes that tell the story of the original guardians of the treasure…you’ll find out what the treasure is soon enough. It’s a fun extra if you are into animation and how directors map out scenes for their movies.

The Movie: 6/10:
You can see that I gave this movie six out of ten. That might sound low for an action flick with Nicholas Cage and John Voight, so let me explain. There are three things that could make this movie a high scoring phenomenon, good story, interesting characters, and more good story. Unfortunately National Treasure doesn’t quite meet any of these criteria

I’ve seen it twice. The first time was a joy ride of adventure following one of my all time favorites, Mr. Cage. Since the Valley girl days Nick has been at the top of my list of Hollywood men. As I sat through the movie again I think it lost something the second time around. It was something it couldn’t afford to lose, my ability to turn my brain off and just enjoy the mindless action, glorious plot gaps, and boring characters.

A story based on a legend is a fantastic place to start making a movie, but even with big stars, great sets, excellent special effects, and big production values, a bad script keeps it from fulfilling its real potential. That’s the only explanation I have for not loving National Treasure. I enjoyed it. Stealing the Declaration of Independence makes for a fun heist. Creeping to the depths of hidden caves right under the surface of a major US city (bloody huge plot gash) does seem like a fun thing to do. Not to mention diving into the murky waters off the shore of New Jersey only to meet up with a charming bad guy holding the fate of the leading characters in his greedy hands, it all sounds like the makings of a great action classic. It isn’t. Cage is fine, quite good in fact. He always is very much the same from role to role, but this time around his own personal affinity for collecting and history does shine through his treasure hunting, history text book talking, quirky character. His leading lady, Diane Kruger is actually my favorite thing about the movie. She’s charming but not in a “look at me I’m a model/actress” type. She’s subtle when she needs to be but for a rookie actress she carries her scenes with a lot of energy and personality, while doing justice to her character. I would complain about how her character’s job and responsibilities are written doesn’t make much sense and forces us to simply not question certain things that happen, but hey, who needs a brain to watch a movie?

Their sidekick character is Justin Bartha who does an ok job of being the cynical, snotty, sarcastic semi-nerd boy who hangs around to give the story a trio of heroes/heroin. He is there for comic relief and to say a lot of the things that the audience is presumed to be thinking….what a considerate service for a movie to provide. He’s just not funny enough, charming enough, or even nerdy enough to pull off any kind of memorable sidekickness. I do think that this character is one of the reasons I didn’t like the movie. It’s just one more thing written into the story that doesn’t fit and drags the rest of the movie down with it. Sean Bean is also one of those people who are like a magnet for me. I love watching him, listening to him, thinking about him, oh sorry…. He makes a good bad guy, but once again, the writing doesn’t give him much to work with. He’s compelling in any scene, it’s just too bad he had to work with dialogue that is clumsy and makes his villain-ness fizzle out a bit.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie has a ton of action which I appreciate. In fact it never stops moving. The span of travel these characters experience is quite impressive and while that makes the movie dynamic, it’s one more thing that makes me roll my eyes. I didn’t dislike National Treasure. I actually had fun both times I watched it, just not a lot of fun.

I have to give it a 6 out of 10 because it’s above average, but doesn’t climb much higher over all on my tough but fair ladder of movie greatness.

Value: 6/10
This is a pretty good DVD, I must say. Even if the movie is average, the extras are enough to almost make it worth a purchase, well, ALMOST. For $20 you can get this DVD, watch it once and stow it on the shelf. OR you could rent it, buy a couple of steaks to toss on the grill, pop some corn, get some sodas, even some dessert, and enjoy the movie in style the one and only time that you will ever want to watch it. It’s up to you people. Spend your money wisely.

Overall Score 7/10