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National Treasure: Book of Secrets

A movie directed by Jon Turteltaub

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Fun romp...forgettable but delivers solid diversion. 3.5 stars

  • Jan 2, 2008
  • by
If you can get past the silly title, NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS is a diverting couple of hours at the movie. This cross between RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARC (lite) with THE DAVINCI CODE (lite) will not stick in your memory for more than a few minutes after you leave the theatre...but you'll at least remember having a more or less fun time.

Nicholas Cage (with his bad hair-dye) is at least having more fun than he did in NEXT, WICKER MAN and GHOST RIDER. In those films, he looked absolutely exhausted and bored. The NATIONAL TREASURE films seem to spur him to some good energy. He clearly enjoys the upbeat attitude of these films...a kind of "can do" feeling. He plays Ben Gates, a renowned "treasure hunter" who in this film is in search of nothing less than the famed City Of Gold: Cibola. He wants to find this to clear the name of his great-great grandfather...who is accused of conspiring with John Wilkes Booth to kill Lincoln. Sure, seeing the City of Gold would be nice...but clearing his family's name is more important.

After much running about in Europe, he and his team realize that in order to complete their quest (which basically is following one clue/puzzle to another), they must have access to the legendary "President's Book of Secrets," which only the President of the United States ever gets to see. So naturally, Cage must kidnap the president so he can have some time alone with the man to convince him to let him have the book. It's at this point that the movie goes completely off the deep-end...and in a way, that's the most fun. There is really not one single second of the film that is credible in any way...but if you are making a film that silly, you might as well work hard to outdo yourself. So yes, the film builds the silliness quotient to almost ridiculous heights...but if you go with it, and put your inner adult away from two hours...you'll have fun.

As I said, Cage is engaged in the film. Jon Voight, as his father, seems just a tiny bit lost in his role...like he's having trouble following the plot...but he's full of vim and vigor. He's matched by Helen Mirren as his feisty ex-wife, who just happens to be an expert in a long extinct Native American language that the hunters just happen to need translated. What a happy coincidence! But it's fun seeing Mirren engaging in a little action and trying to hold on to her American accent. Diane Kruger is Cage's love interest...she's bland but game enough. Bruce Greenwood is the president (something he's done before, I feel certain) and this Canadian actor pulls it off with panache. Ed Harris is the primary villain of the piece, and his character is poorly defined, so Harris just plays him with generic villainy...it's not really his fault, but just about anyone could have done the part as well. Also, Harvey Keitel shows up in a completely dispensable cameo...and looks totally out of place in the whole film.

However, the movie is nearly stolen by virtual unknown Justin Bartha, as Cage's fellow treasure hunter Riley Poole. He's a bundle of clumsy energy, eager to please, eager for attention, a bit of a geek but also brave and smart. He's almost manic in the role...but his gleeful demeanor brightens up every scene he's in. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a great performance...but it is most in keeping with the spirit of the movie.

The special effects are generically impressive. When they arrive at the City (is that a spoiler? Does anyone actually doubt for one second they will find it?), it's one of those spectacular underground temple/palace/treasure piles that we've seen a MILLION times before (THE MUMMY and TOMB RAIDER spring to mind.) It's huge, and it's also completely unimaginative. It's at this point that I most felt like all this movie really has to offer is a big screen version of any one of a thousand computer games where you following one puzzling clue to another to another.

This COULD be highly depressing, and make one feel that one's money has been wasted on totally unimaginative and derivative junk. That's certainly how a lot of critics took the film. But on the other hand, you could accept the film in the spirit it's been offered. True, it's a sequel that exists purely to cash in...but it delivers everything a person going to see it could want. That it slips from memory almost entirely upon leaving the theatre probably just means that everyone will buy the DVD so they can recapture what they saw, enjoyed and forgot.

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More National Treasure: Book of Sec... reviews
Quick Tip by . June 21, 2010
Excellent movie - just not quite able to top the first one.
Quick Tip by . June 21, 2010
Great! Intreaguing!
review by . November 15, 2008
Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):     1. Civil War dirty secrets are brought to light and set alight   2. Ben Gates' great-great grandfather gets bad name, but isn't completely clueless   3. Ben Gates (Cage) follows cryptic clues to clear the family name.   4. Clues actually lead to mighty big treasure, but that isn't the real prize, apparently.   5. Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) goes to a lot of trouble to get Gates to show him the money …
review by . July 15, 2008
If one can associate an actor to a particular genre of movies, it would be Nicholas Cage to family-friendly action - adventure movies. But sequels has been something he has smartly stayed away from, until now. With this 2nd installment of Disney's National Treasure franchise, Mr. Cage looks like he has sold himself out. The Book of Secrets starts out good but steadily becomes less believable and less original as it progresses. For example, the scene inside the mountain where he and his fellow explorers …
review by . June 06, 2008
Entertaining and campy with several "yeah right!" moments. Fans of National Treasure should appreciate the same characters as they banter, argue, fight and solve clues.    National Treasure Two takes us to Europe and below ground. Nearly clean fun lacks family unfriendly language and sexual content.    The intensity of the themes -- treasure hunts/hunters, shootings, car chases and skeletons in various degrees of decay might make it a little too much for very …
review by . May 26, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
(2.5 *'s) `National Treasure 2' is benign, yet slight, family entertainment. Continuing the treasure hunt (again with a decidedly patriotic thrust) Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) leads his globe trotting entourage to Paris, London`s Buckingham Palace, and even inside the most intimate desk drawers of the Oval Office. This time clues are sprinkled around the Western Hemisphere in Native American language, sending Ben and his sidekicks, Abigail (Diane Kruger) and Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), to retrieve …
review by . March 08, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
While delivering a presentation about his great-grandfather, Thomas Gates (Joel Gretsch) and his relationship to John Wilkes Booth and attempt to stop the assassination of President Lincoln, Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) is challenged by a man, Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris), who claims to have a missing page from John Wilkes Booth's diary that suggests that Thomas Gates was actually one of the ring-leaders of Lincoln's assassination. In an attempt to prove his great-grandfather's innocence, Ben, Abigail …
review by . January 20, 2008
Despite the fact that this 2007 sequel to the popular "National Treasure" boasts a fine cast of actors (Nicholas Cage, Jon Voight, personal favorite Ed Harris and the incomparable Helen Mirren,) "Book of Secrets" catapults into a fast but formulaic action with a little less than the high voltage adrenaline the initial film offered, repositioning famed treasure-hunter/historian Ben Franklin Gates (Cage) to face yet another widely publicized dis --- this time linking his equally cipher-solving obscure …
review by . December 30, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Much like the film that preceded it, "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" is both completely preposterous and a lot of fun at the same time. No, I never once believed what was going on; this movie is not about believability, but about pure entertainment, much like the "Indiana Jones" films or "The Da Vinci Code." And in the tradition of "The Da Vinci Code," this film is founded on the premise that hidden clues will lead to the truth. In this case, the quest for the truth is directly related to Ben …
review by . December 25, 2007
Pros: Great action scenes and decent plot line     Cons: minimal suspense if you have seen a lot of the previews     The Bottom Line: Predictable, but still worth seeing with its fun action scenes. Plus it is not as predictable to others who do not know as much history as me.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. I think this was a very well done sequel, although the first one is still better. My …
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I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Theatrical release poster Directed by Jon Turteltaub Produced by Jon Turteltaub
Jerry Bruckheimer Written by Screenplay
Marianne Wibberley
Cormac Wibberley

Gregory Poirier
Marianne Wibberley
Cormac Wibberley
Terry Rossio
Ted Elliott Starring Nicolas Cage
Justin Bartha
Diane Kruger
Jon Voight
Helen Mirren
Ed Harris Music by Trevor Rabin Cinematography John Schwartzman
Amir Mokri Editing by William Goldenberg
David Rennie Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures Release date(s) December 21, 2007 Running time 125 min. Country United States Language English
French Budget $130,000,000[1] Gross revenue $457,364,600[2] Preceded by National Treasure

National Treasure: Book of Secrets (titled National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets on the DVD/Blu-ray release) is a 2007 adventure film and is the sequel to the 2004 film National Treasure. It was directed by Jon Turteltaub and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

It was stated in the first film's commentary that there were no plans for a sequel, but due to the first film's impressive box-office performance, earning $347.5 million worldwide, a sequel was given the go-ahead in 2005. It took just 38 days of release for the sequel to out-gross the original.

The film premiered in New York City on December 13, 2007 and was released in the Middle East, Korea, and Taiwan on December 19, ...

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