National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets Review

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets movie posterSynopsis
After being presented with evidence that his great-great-grandfather was part of the Lincoln assassination, Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage) goes on a quest to clear his family name. To do so, he must follow clues that could lead to the legendary city of gold, Cibola.

If you’ve seen National Treasure, you will know what to expect out of National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. What makes this work as a sequel is that it keeps what was great from the first film and puts it into a new story. The same characters are here doing the same thing, which might sound like a rehash but it is no different than Indiana Jones or Lora Croft going on another adventure. It may be the same concept but the execution is different.

Nicolas Cage, Justin Bartha, and Diane Kruger all return and maintain their great chemistry. The banter between the three of them, like the first film, is so much fun. Together, they make the film work. Helen Mirren was an absolute joy and a great addition to the cast. She fit right in with Cage, Bartha, and Kruger and is clearly having as much fun as they are.

The baddie this time is Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris), the man who presents the evidence against Gates’ ancestor. Ian Howe was a good counterpart to Gates in the previous movie but he didn’t feel menacing. I didn’t not like him, which can actually take away from a villain. Mitch was one of those characters that I love to hate. Like Ian, he proves that he can go toe-to-toe with Gates but Mitch has the attitude to feel like the bad guy. Maybe it was the difference between Sean Bean and Ed Harris or maybe it was the way the characters were written. Either way, the villain was much stronger this time.

Since this is the second film, we know all about these characters and what they do. Therefore, National Treasure 2 doesn’t waste any time before heading out on the search for the treasure. Within the first scene, the hunt is set up and the Ben (Cage), Riley (Bartha), and Abigail (Kruger) are on their way. It helps get the film moving and spend maximum time watching them on their search.

National Treasure was all about US history and our founding fathers. National Treasure 2 is still about US history but it also incorporates international locations as well. One clue leads the group to France and another send them to England. Since our history is influenced by many others from many different countries and nationalities, it was fun to see that aspect of our history integrated into the story.

I’m going to talk about some spoilers so if you haven’t seen the film, skip this paragraph. OK, so the whole hunt was to prove that the reason Thomas Gates (Ben’s ancestor) tried to destroy the page from Booth’s diary was to destroy the treasure map, while Mitch claimed Thomas burned the page to hide his involvement in the plot to assassinate President Lincoln. Finding the City of Gold was somehow supposed to prove Ben’s point. But the film never answers why Thomas’ name was on page in the first place. Following the map and finding where it leads doesn’t prove that he wasn’t involved. Although as the viewer we can assume that Thomas wasn’t involved in the assassination plot and he burned it to destroy the treasure map, we are never actually given an explanation as to why his name is on the page.

I thought National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets was GOOD :-). The great chemistry between the three leads returns and the villain is much more threatening this time around. If you enjoyed the previous film, there is no doubt that you will enjoy this film as well.

Also check out my review of National Treasure.


Cast & Crew
Jon Turtletaub – Director
Marianne Wibberley – Screenplay / Story
Cormac Wibberley – Screenplay / Story
Gegory Poirier – Story
Ted Elliot – Story
Terry Russio – Story
Trevor Rabin – Score

Nicolas Cage – Ben Gates
Justin Bartha – Riley Poole
Diane Kruger – Abigail Chase
Jon Voight – Patrick Gates
Helen Mirren – Emily Appleton
Ed Harris – Mitch Wilkinson
Harvey Keitel – Sadusky
Bruce Greenwood – The President
Ty Burrell – Conner
Michael Maize – Daniel
Timothy V. Murphy – Seth
Alicia Coppola – FBI Agent Spellman
Armando Riesco – FBI Agent Hendricks
Joel Gretsch – Thomas Gates
William Brent – Charles Gates
Brent Briscoe – Michael O’Laughlen
Christian Camargo – John Wilkes Booth

National Treasure Review

National Treasure movie posterSynopsis
Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) has spent his whole life searching for a treasure hidden by the founding fathers of the United States of America. A team of mercenaries learn about the treasure and Ben and his partner, Riley (Justin Bartha), must find the treasure first to keep it safe.

In school, history was my favorite subject. I enjoy history museums of any kind and learning all about the past. Now, my ability to retain the information is a whole other story… Anyway, being set in the modern age with historical events and people being intertwined into the plot, National Treasure is exactly my kind of movie.

The best thing about this movie that makes it work is the chemistry between the three leads. Nicolas Cage, Justin Bartha, and Diane Kruger are an absolute joy to watch together, whether it is all three together or any combination of two of them. You can tell they are having fun and it makes the movie better for it.

Nicolas Cage can be an eccentric actor, to say the least, and it can be hard to know which Cage you’re going to get. For every Kick-Ass there are several bombs like Rage. The Cage in this movie is on the mellower side. His signature overacting is there but he is not obnoxiously so like he can be.

Justin Bartha is fun as the comedic relief. He plays well with both Cage and Kruger, creating some of the funnier moments of the film. His character doesn’t have the historical knowledge as Gates or Abigail so information was given to the audience through them explaining the details to him.

Sean Bean’s Ian Howe teeters on the line of becoming cartoonishly villainous. He comes really close to a Saturday morning cartoon baddie but he somehow never actually goes over the line. It’s impressive really. I wouldn’t call him a great villain but he proves more than once he is up to the challenge of competing against Gates.

It isn’t difficult to draw similarities between National Treasure and the Indiana Jones films. This movie follows a similar structure as Raiders of the Lost Ark. Maybe that’s another reason why I like this so much. It is not a direct repeat of Raiders but you can feel Raiders’ influence.

Despite the seemingly many turns along the treasure hunt, the plot is fairly simple and uncomplicated. Gates and company are trying to find the treasure before a group of mercenaries does. Pretty straightforward. There are times when the journey might seem a little far fetched but it is still easy to follow.

As fun and exciting this film is, it does feel like it runs a little longer than necessary. It runs a slightly over two hours long. There is little reason for it to actually be that long. Several scenes could have been trimmed or one less clue included to drop the running time down even just a few minutes.

I thought National Treasure was GREAT :-D. Nicolas Cage, Justin Bartha and Diane Kruger work well together, making it enjoyable for everybody. The combination of American history and action-adventure with a sprinkle of a heist is a fun mix of several of my favorite things.

Also check out my review of National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets.

Favorite Quote
Ben: Now, I think that if we look at this clock tower, we may find the specific time.
Abigail: What do you see?
Ben: 2:22.
Abigail: What time is it now?
Clerk: Almost three.
Abigail: We missed it.
Riley: No we didn’t. We didn’t miss it because… uh… You don’t know this? I-I know something about history that you don’t know.
Ben: I’d be very excited to learn about it Riley.
Riley: Well, hold on one second, let me just… let me just take in this moment. This is… this is cool. Is this how you feel all to time? Because, you know… Except for now, of course.


Cast & Crew
Jon Turtletaub – Director
Jim Kouf – Screenplay / Story
Cormac Wibberley – Screenplay
Marianne Wibberley – Screenplay
Oren Aviv – Story
Charles Segars – Story
Trevor Rabin – Composer

Nicolas Cage – Benjamin Franklin Gates
Justin Bartha – Riley Poole
Diane Kruger – Abigail Chase
Sean Bean – Ian Howe
Jon Voight – Patrick Gates
Harvey Keitel – Sadusky
David Dayan Fisher – Shaw
Stewart Finlay-McLennan – Powell
Oleg Taktarov – Shippen
Stephen A. Pope – Phil
Christopher Plummer – John Adams gates
Hunter Gomez – Young Ben Gates

There is still plenty of time to join in the Christmas in July 2016 Blogathon. If you are interested in participating, go here for all the information.

My Fave Five Films to Watch on the Fourth Of July

Happy Fourth of July! Today is the day when we American’s can drink and party all day while not in college and not be judged for it. Well, maybe we are but we’re too drunk to really care.  I enjoy shooting an obscene amount of fireworks in the evening, but during the day, besides a great cook-out, I like to celebrate the holiday by watching a movie or two (or three).  Let’s celebrate together and look at my five favorite moves to watch on the Fourth of July.

National Treasure movie poster5) National Treasure

Although National Treasure doesn’t take place during the Fourth of July, it is a fun celebration of US history.  While the whole “a secret society hid a treasure and it is up to one man to find it” plot has been done before, this film weaves true historical facts into its narrative.  I remember I convinced my high school American History teacher that this was a “historical” film and we watched it in class. Good times. Nicholas Cage doesn’t overact, like he usually tends to, and it was the first film where I saw Justin Bartha before he appears (too briefly) in the hilarious The Hangover.  One of my favorite school subjects was history so it’s fun for me to see history mixed with fiction. That’s also one reason why I like the Assassin’s Creed series so much.

4) The PatriotThe Patriot movie poster

I’m not sure if I can call The Patriot a guilty pleasure or not because honestly I’m not sure where this stands on the acceptance level. Wherever it lies, I enjoy this movie.  While it may take place during the American Revolutionary War, this film has gained some criticism for its historical inaccuracies.  The British are portrayed as cartoonishly villainous and the American heroes as victims. But honestly, what would you expect from an American blockbuster about the American Revolution?  This also holds a small place in my heart because it was one of (if not the) first R-rated movie I remember watching.

Live Free or Die Hard movie poster3) Live Free or Die Hard

Maybe it’s because I’m a programmer but I really enjoy this fourth film in the Die Hard franchise.  Die Hard With a Vengeance is amazing and Simon Gruber is a fantastic villain rivaling his brother, but Live Free or Die Hard is a different kind of adventure for John McClane than the other films in the series.  He faces an enemy he can’t necessarily beat simply by punching, which can be tough for an old cop, forcing him to accept help from a young computer hacker, played by Justin Long.  The plot, however outlandish it may be, rings true to how reliant our society is on technology and how susceptible our society becomes if a massive cyber attack were to occur.  Say what you will about it, this film has just as much action and explosions as the previous Die Hard movies, so it can’t be all that bad.

2) JawsJaws movie poster

Jaws is the film that is credited with creating the blockbuster.  Unsure of how well it would do in the theaters, Universal skipped releasing Jaws in smaller markets and released it nationwide instead.  The result was spectacular. It fared way better than Universal was expecting and was a hit with both audiences and critics and it’s not hard to see why.  This horror, directed by the young Steven Spielberg, does everything right.  The great soundtrack from John Williams perfectly sets the mood (like I also said in my Fave Five John Williams Movie Scores) and we don’t see the titular shark until the very end. Instead, now common horror techniques are used to build anticipation. There are few movies that rival Jaws in cinematic significance and cultural impact.

Independence Day movie poster1) Independence Day

Seriously, if you don’t watch a movie called Independence Day on Independence Day, what are you doing with your life? Independence Day is pure fun.  Jeff Goldblum plays Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith pulls out his normal bad-assery.  Bill Pullman gives an awesome speech as the President of the United States.  Let’s not forget that apparently the US are the ones responsible to come up with the plan to stop the aliens, because go America! And according to the president’s speech, our holiday of Independence Day is now the world’s holiday of Independence Day, because go America!  I have mixed feelings about the announced sequel but I try to stay optimistic about these things.  Roland Emmerich films can be hit or miss.  For me, Independence Day is a definite hit.

If you are interesting in participating in this years Christmas in July Blogathon, you can find all the details and information here.