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Let me start this review by saying that I liked the first National Treasure movie. While not a “great” film or even a good one, it was, nonetheless, a fun movie with a sense of adventure that didn’t take itself too seriously.
The sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets manages to capture the charm, fun and adventure of the first movie… for about 15 minutes in the middle of the movie when Nicholas Cage searches for the “President’s Book Of Secrets” at the Library Of Congress. The rest of the movie is flat out boring.
So what happened with the sequel? It has the same cast and director as the first film. Let’s take a look at both movies and see what went wrong.
The first National Treasure movie had a treasure protected for generations by the Knights Templar and hidden by the Freemasons with the a major clue to its location written in invisible ink on the Declaration of Independence. Imagine having to steal the Declaration of Independence from the National Archives to read a secret message. And then there’s the Freemason/Knights Templar element. The Freemasons have been a part of most conspiracy theories for centuries. There’s even been a political party formed around the concept of stopping them. And with the attention surrounding them as a result of the popular hack novel The Da Vinci Code, it’s fun to imagine the Freemasons hiding a treasure underneath a church in Washington D.C.
The sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets has the same characters searching for the Lost City of Gold. Boring. The main clue involves a cipher written on a burned page of John Wilkes Booth’s diary. I’m still not excited. Eventually the clues lead to the President’s Book of Secrets, a book of secret documents collected by Presidents for President’s eyes only. And what does the Book of Secrets (from which the movie derives part of its title from) have to do with the Lost City of Gold? Not a whole lot. Just a quick plot point. The sequel also has its fair share of conspiracy theories involving the Queen of England and the Civil War, but, as far as conspiracy theories go, these are pretty lame.
Do I need to talk about the technical aspects of the movie, how bad the writing, directing and performances are? No. Because it’s irrelevant. The bottom line is this movie is not fun which is what anyone who goes to see a National Treasure sequel (or any Bruckheimer movie) wants.
What is fun, however, is the Disney short that precedes National Treasure: Book of Secrets starring Goofy titled How to Hook Up Your Home Theater. This animated short is hilarious as it sends up the trials of setting up new technology in your home. While this short alone is not worth the full price of admission, it comes close. If this is John Lasseter’s attempt to make the new Disney more like the “old” Disney, the Moose approves.Buy the Moose a cup of coffee.