Filled with hilariously stupid dialogue, summer Hollywood clichés, and a lighthearted tone that seems to thrive on the latter two points, National Treasure is undeniably fun. Yes, it’s stupid… mind-numbingly so. Still, it has energy and a fun premise – if you can accept it – to get you into this story.
That Declaration of Independence that America holds so dear? It can be stolen. At least, National Treasure wants you to believe that. Wisely, the script takes at least a little time to make it that far, building up an engaging mystery the audience should buy into.
Nicolas Cage is wonderful as Ben Gates, one of those movie explorers looking for a fabled hidden treasure. It wouldn’t be a Jerry Bruckheimer adventure without the wise cracking buddy, played with fun timing by Justin Bartha. The story conveniently takes the cast to multiple major, recognizable landmarks throughout the country in search of the treasure left behind by the Templar Knights.
As contrived as it may end up being, the sense of adventure is in full effect. The action is fueled by solid stunt work and engaging scenarios. The pace, even though this runs a little longer than most movies of this type, is rapid. There’s rarely a wasted line of dialogue aside from the expected snide remarks.
National Treasure does all of this with only mild violence, and the easy to grasp story makes this a perfect family choice. This is an appealing adventure that may not have the classic status of Indiana Jones, but as an unintentional (maybe) homage, it’s does pretty well for itself.
Worthy of its place in HD, the movie looks beautiful on Blu-ray. Black levels are nothing short of extraordinary, setting a brilliant contrast that gives this picture plenty of pop. Sharp and finely detailed, the transfer is exceptional in these areas. Some excessively noisy shots dampen the fun, but don’t take away from the overall clarity.
While it has a few moments to shine, the audio track here is somewhat flat. A few shoot outs don’t deliver in terms of surround use. The car chase is equally disappointing in terms of positional audio. However, the finale, with its creaking wood and echoes does. Bass is powerful when called upon, especially with an early explosion.
A few new extras have been added over the DVD. A commentary from director Jon Turteltaub and Justin Bartha is followed by a featurette on the Declaration of Independence. A pop-up trivia track goes along with the film, pointing out a variety of facts. Other extras carry over from the DVD.
Sixteen minutes of deleted scenes combine with a separate alternate ending and opening animatic. Aside from the latter, they feature an optional commentary. The alternate ending also carries an introduction on why it was cut. Ciphers, Coders, and Code Breakers is a 12 minute piece on real life code breakers. Templar Knights is over far too fast to gain any real information from it on the real Knights, and Treasure Hunters Revealed is even shorter, focusing on real divers and explorers. Four short behind-the-scenes featurettes are promotional, and not particularly worth the viewer’s time.