National Treasure: Better than Expected
Well, this was not what I was expecting. I was not expecting an award worthy film, but I was not expecting an 8 minute Goofy short either. After seven previews, I thought the film was going to start. But, Disney attached a Goofy short about a home theater to the beginning. I was not aware of this. I went to a 10:30 am show; the movie itself did not start until 11 am. I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as too many previews. But the Goofy short killed me. Finally, the film got rolling.
It opened with the assassination of President Lincoln and a conspiracy behind it. It then goes to the familiar faces of Ben Gates and his father Patrick played by returning Academy Award winners Nicolas Cage and Jon Voight respectively. Academy Award Nominee Ed Harris then makes his appearance as Mitch Wilkinson and accuses the Gates family matriarch as being part of the conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln. We then see sidekick Riley Poole at a vacant book signing portrayed by returning Justin Bartha. He apparently has problems when people think that he is Ben Gates, but they are disappointed to find out that he was the other guy. Well, Ben ends up asking Riley for help breaking into his now ex-girlfriend Abigail’s house, also portrayed by returning Diane Kruger. So, now we have a funny quirky lovers’ conflict.
Now that we have the story laid out, the rest of the film consists of code cracking and fun adventures trying to find the truth about the conspiracy surrounding the infamous Ford Theater assassination. Along the way, Academy Award Winner Helen Mirren is added as Ben Gates mother and Patrick Gates estranged wife. Of course, they need her to help read an old extinct tribal language found on a board. Franchise player Agent Sandusky played once again by Harvey Keitel makes an appearance.
Some of the sequences of action and adventure seem far fetched. They actually kidnap the President of the United States by manipulating the Secret Service. A quick side note, Bruce Greenwood has played the President before in 2000 as John F. Kennedy in Thirteen Days. The finale with Mitch and Ben was kind of a let down. The Mitch character just does not play out as it should have. In the end, there is a funny tax joke.
After it was over, I had to admit that I had fun. I enjoyed myself. It was a bit off from the original, but it was not as bad as some people have said. It was a fun adventure and escape for two hours. This was oddly Nicolas Cage’s first sequel ever. Now, I think that his take on sequels will change. He has already expressed interest in another Ghost Rider and maybe another National Treasure. They set the ground work for a third. I loved the mystery surrounding page 47 in the Book of Secrets. Verdict: See it if you liked the original. If you did not like the first, you will not like the second. Be warned, with three Oscar winners and one Oscar nominee, you would think that it should be better.