Plot: What’s it about?
There are certain movies that are made to have a sequel and then there are some that only have them because the first movie was such a success. I’m not sure which category “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” falls into as the way the movie is constructed, it has a near endless array of plotlines. Add to that the fact that the first installment was such a financial beast and a sequel was the next logical step. I won’t say that “National Treasure” will get audience members interested in history the way “Harry Potter” got kids into reading or the way “John Adams” inspired a new look at our past. I will say that these movies are intriguing and they’re paced just right so that you’re intrigued, entertained and never bored. The bottom line, you get your money’s worth and let’s say that the chemistry between Cage and his co-stars doesn’t hurt either.
“National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets” takes place a year or so after the first one left off (no specific amount of time is actually given and if it was, I certainly missed it) as we find Riley (Justin Bartha), Ben (Nicholas Cage) and Abigail (Diane Kruger) basking in the glow of becoming pseudo-heroes. Ben and Abigail have come upon rough times and their relationship is on the rocks and Riley is trying to peddle his 15 minutes of fame into something much, much more. However, we meet Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) and he’s thrown a wrench into the works claiming that the Gates family is partially responsible for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Naturally this doesn’t sit too well with them and they seek out a vast series of clues (namely a missing section in John Wilkes Booth’s diary) to set the family name straight. Of course, nothing really goes according to plan and though it does bring Ben and Abigail closer together, they’re being pursued by, you guessed it, Wilkinson.
I won’t draw many parallels to “North by Northwest” but let’s just say that any movie that culminates at the top of Mount Rushmore is trying to say something. This sequel more than delivers what the first one did and I do find it intriguing if some of this stuff actually exists. It’s got too, right? Though I found a few of the sequences a bit too hard to swallow (the President of the United States hitchhiking on a desolate road?), I have to take into account that it’s a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced film. While “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets” may not be the most historically accurate film out there, it’s one of the more entertaining and that’s why we watch movies, correct? Fans of the original will be in heaven here and I’ve no doubt that we’ll be seeing Benjamin Gates in another movie in the not too distant future.
Video: How does it look?
The 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer is one of the better efforts I’ve seen on Blu-ray, but then again everything leads to a good-looking image. The color palette is literally all over the map here as we have some very bright outdoor scenes and then later on, we’ve got some very dark scenes to balance it out. By and large, the transfer is flawless with sharp edges and very little, if anything, to complain about. Flesh tones seem a bit on the warmer side, but this could be anything from the makeup they used to an error in the print. Suffice it to say that this delivers a great-looking picture and it makes for the utmost in the viewing experience.
Audio: How does it sound?
Disney is offering up more and more Dolby TrueHD tracks and this is the latest one. I found it very rich and robust, particularly during the ending act in which most of the action is going on. Dialogue is perfect and I was amazed at how active the LFE were, truly (no pun intended) they add a lot to the scenes. The discrete surround effects take center stage here as they light up the soundtrack. We pretty much know what we’re getting when we pop in this disc and Disney’s been good to us and has given us what we want a great-sounding track.
Supplements: What are the extras?
When it comes to supplements, Disney has given this Blu-ray release a fair share and a few exclusives to Blu-ray as well. We start out with an audio commentary by director Jon Turteltaub and actor Jon Voight. Turteltaub is a bit of a motor mouth, but his track is full of useful information and when Voight does get a word in edgewise, it’s not a bad-sounding track. The main draw is the eight part documentary “Secrets of a Sequel” which covers just about every conceivable angle about doing a sequel. This has information on the location, the history and even the stunts. There are seven deleted scenes (two exclusive to Blu-ray) with optional commentary by Turteltaub, a gag reel and some trailers to boot. Lastly, there’s a Blu-ray exclusive “National History: Fact and Fiction of National Treasure” which runs more like an interactive trivia quiz and makes for quite the viewing experience. If this is any indication of what we can do with Blu-ray, I’m excited to see what else is possible.