Monday, May 19, 2008
Written by Fantasma el Rey
National Treasure 2: Book Of Secrets continues along the same lines as its predecessor, bringing back original core characters while adding a new villain. The two-disc collector’s edition DVD set is loaded with many special features that include audio commentary and making of featurettes.
The plot in NT2 follows very close to that of the first film, the cast journeys to various places in search of clues to decipher the whereabouts of a lost treasure as a bad guy of sorts is hot on their trail and at a point one step ahead. Oh, and the F.B.I is involved again as well. The strong characters that made the first film return with just as much chemistry as before. Nicolas Cage (Ben Gates), Jon Voight (Patrick Gates), Harvey Keitel (F.B.I. Agent Sadusky), and this time Ed Harris is the heavy (Mitch Wilkinson). Yet with NT2 we are taken to further points on the globe that get our heroes ever closer to their treasure, which is the Lost City of Gold.
The story involves Gates’ great-grandfather, the Presidents’ secret book, and John Wilkes Booth and the plot to assassinate President Lincoln. During a lecture on the missing pages in Booth’s diary, Wilkinson accuses Gates’ ancestor of being in on the plot to kill Lincoln. And the hunt and action begin first to clear the good name of Gates. Then they stumble onto the Confederate states’ plot to find the Lost City of Gold to continue the Civil War.
The adventure takes them to Buckingham Palace and Paris, France for more key clues and them back to the White House, into the Library of Congress for the actual Book of Secrets, and then finally inside the Black Hills of South Dakota and Mount Rushmore. (I suggest for all to look deeper into the contrast of Mt. Rushmore being carved into the Black Hills and how it concerns Native Americans) Oh yeah, then there is the kidnapping of the President of the United States to boot. Keep in mind that all the while the basic plot as outlined above is moving right along.
This isn’t a bad thing as it keeps the film from becoming overly serious about itself. For over two hours I never lost interest as the characters kept me smiling and the action/adventure kept me looking forward to the next scene. Cleverly placed history mixed with some smart obstacles for our film friends to overcome makes this just as fun as the first. The history is everywhere and speaks for itself.
For the action there is a car chase on the London streets that involve not only witty gags but the use of the automobiles built-in safety camera for driving in reverse. While in the caves and caverns of the Black Hills there are a few Indiana Jones-like booby traps in the way of finding the Lost City of Gold. We’ve seen most of this before but it is done well again for NT2.
I love the history involved in these films and the questions that arise as to is it fact or “for the story” fiction. These questions are answered as you listen to the audio commentary by director Jon Turteltaub and actor Jon Voight; both do a great job in shedding light on the truth vs. fiction in their movie. The remaining special features are on disc two and include several behind-the-scenes featurettes including deleted scenes, a blooper reel, a look at the Library of Congress and various other “making of” segments.
The film’s pace, little known historical facts, and the overall chemistry of the actors is what makes the National Treasure films so much fun to watch. As you get involved in any story that sweeps you away, you can overlook some of the minor flaws in plot, continuity or other small flubs, and wacky schemes and themes (like an intelligent President). If you’ve seen National Treasure 2: Book Of Secrets before then this will be a good way to view it again. If you missed it in theaters, then here is your chance to join the adventure to the heart of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills of South Dakota in search of the Lost City of Gold. I know that the minds behind these two films are looking to make another but if it plays the way they hint at, involving the President, then it may border on hokey, we’ll just have to wait and see.