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.

Rage Review

Rage movie posterSynopsis
Paul Maguire (Nicolas Cage), an ex-mob enforcer who has become a successful businessman, fears his dark past has caught up to him when his daughter (Aubrey Peeples) goes missing.

I hadn’t heard of Rage until my roommate rented it from the local movie store. The premise sounded interesting enough and I was willing to roll with it, at least at first. It started out like Taken and soon became John Wick, which to me actually sounds like a cool premise and sounds interesting. However, it didn’t really matter what it wanted to be because in the end, it was a load of garbage.

This film ran about forty-five minutes too long, and it only had an hour and a half run time. For the majority of the film, Nicolas Cage and his crew do a lot of talking about the terrible things they did in their past (well really a lot of talking in general) but only a small fraction of it is even seen. So much time is spent trying to set up these characters but the movie just ends up spinning its wheels, not really accomplishing anything. There was a deleted scene that contained the deed they “said they would never talk about” which was glimpsed at. It still didn’t elaborate nor go into the details as to why but had the full scene been included in the film it would have helped the story, if only a little bit.

When we finally get to see the reveal, everything came crashing down and I lost it. Everything the film was trying to build towards was essentially thrown out the window. It made no sense and came completely out of left field. The thing is, Rage didn’t slowly go downhill. No, it got there abruptly. It was like the Mustang Cage’s character was driving around went from the driveway into a brick wall at full speed.

Cage has had his fair share of eccentric characters and over-the-top performances, but this has got to take the cake. I can’t take him seriously. He will go from seemingly fine to yelling for no apparent reason. You can’t even make the claim that his character is some sort of psycho (because they seem to like to do that all the times in movies) because he is portrayed as the calm and collected one of the group. I really enjoy Rachel Nicols as an actress but she gets underutilized in this film. Maybe that’s a good thing since there isn’t much she could have done to help it anyway. Even the presence of Danny Glover could do nothing to redeem this movie.

This film is billed as a thriller but I didn’t feel any suspense. And the action is few and far between, so I have a hard time calling it an action film. I will admit some of the action sequences were pretty good. However, I was already too removed from the movie to really care. At least that kept me interested for marginally longer than I otherwise would have.

Instead of watching Rage, I would have preferred to do almost anything else. For instance, I would rather have watched a fresh coat of paint dry, at least something would have looked nice at the end. Or I would rather have watched a dog vomit for an hour and half, at least the entertainment value would have been about the same. I would have watched a picture take an hour and a half to load on 1998 dial-up internet, at least something worthwhile would have come out of the wait.

I didn’t think I would find a film I loathed as much as Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, but lo and behold, here we are. The reveal was supposed to be this big dramatic twist but was anything but riveting and nullified everything the character had done and been working towards. Don’t waste your time with this one, unless you have done everything there is to do ever. And I mean everything, like you have already walked across an entire meadow of Legos or tried to break the world record of how many glass windows you ran your head through before passing out from blood loss. Even for a cheesy Nic Cage movie, this isn’t worth your time.



Cast & Crew
Paco Cabezas – Director
James Agnew – Writer
Sean Keller – Writer
Laurent Eyquem – Composer

Nicolas Cage – Paul Maguire
Rachel Nicols – Vanessa Maguire
Max Ryan – Kane
Michael McGrady – Danny
Peter Stormare – Francis O’Connell
Pasha D. Lychnikoff – Chernov
Patrice Cols – Anton
Aubrey Peeples – Caitlin Maguire
Max Fowler – Mike
Jack Falahee – Even
Danny Glover – Det. Peter St. John
Ron Goleman – Det. Hanson

Recently, I tasked Rob with reviewing this film. You can see what he thought about Rage here.