Starring: Nicolas Cage, John Voight
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Studio: Walt Disney Video 55627
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, DD 2.0, French DD 5.1, Spanish 2.0
Subtitles: Closed captions, French, Spanish
Extras: (Disc 1:) Multilevel treasure hunt, Alternate ending, Deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary, Opening scene Animatic with optional director’s commentary, Four featurettes: “National Treasure On Location,” “The Knights Templar.” “Treasure Hunters Revealed,” “Riley’s Decode This!” plus three challenges
(Disc 2:) Additional deleted scenes with intros by Jon Turteltaub, Four more featurettes: “Ciphers Codes & Codebreakers,” “On the Set of American History,” “To Steal a National Treasure,” “Exploding Charlotte”
Length: 131 minutes
This adventure feature originally got a lot of flack along the lines of being a copy of The Da Vinci Code and Raiders of the Lost Ark. While you do have to make a strong effort to suspend disbelief while watching this one, I found it immensely more fun than The Da Vinci Code. The entertaining but unbelievable plot involves treasure-hunter Cage’s quest for the treasure of Solomon, supposedly found by the ancient Knights Templars in Jerusalem during the Crusades and moved over the centuries to Europe, then Scotland, and finally to Philadelphia, would you believe. Someone else with more money, several henchmen and less scruples also is hunting for the treasure, which adds to the challenges that Cage’s character faces.
Similar to the Da Vinci caper, this more secular hunt thru various clues revolves around Cage having to steal the Declaration of Independence to prevent it being stolen by the bad guys. The filmmakers got permission to actually shoot in the historic locations in Washington, D.C., Boston and Philadelphia, even going to the top of Independence Hall where the Liberty Bell once hung. This adds some authenticity to the hard-to-swallow proceedings. Cage’s playful sense of humor and a lot of fast action lure the viewer into the caper too – never mind that much of the dialog is a bit flat. There’s plenty of cobwebs, skeletons, dark tunnels, flames, coffins and big explosions. One reviewer called it “a Hardy Boys mystery on steroids.”
This is the second time around for a National Treasure DVD, timed to coincide with the new not-really-a-sequel theatrical feature about tracking John Wilkes Booth. As with most such “collector’s editions” it is “jam-packed with new bonus features.” Actually, there’s not that much on Disc Two – the best bonus items were on Disc One and the original DVD. I admit I did find the new featurette on Codes and Ciphers quite interesting viewing. Don’t know if the image quality is enhanced over the first DVD; it’s excellent, even in the many very dark scenes underground. Most of the extras will appeal more to computer game players and those of all ages who are turned on by the treasure hunt idea. If you just want to see the feature, the first DVD was probably fine.
– John Sunier