National Treasure


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"National Treasure is almost entirely oomphless.  ."










National Treasure
The Masked Reviewer

It's about time that someone made a movie that puts to use all that worthless information we were forced to learn as children in elementary school.  Finally, American History pays off -- and big -- in National Treasure.  Ben Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, blah blah blah.  "We the People..." Ho-hum.  Ever wonder what good that gobbledy-gook would do you in real life?  As it turns out, it could help you find a bazillion dollar treasure!

The movie is directed by Jon Turtletaub, who brought us Three Ninjas, Phenonemon, and everyone's favorite Jamaican bobsledding movie, Cool Runnings.  And...that should tell you something, but the Masked Reviewer isn't sure what.

Mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer backed the film.  You'd figure that the guy that brought you Pirates of the Carribbean, Bad Boys II, Pearl Harbor, and Kangaroo Jack would make sure that National Treasure had a lot of "oomph" to it.  Well, there's not nearly enough "oomph".  In fact, National Treasure is almost entirely oomphless. 

The movie is kind of like Raiders of the Lost Ark meets The Patriot, only without any action, fighting, or interesting stuff happening.  That's not to say it's dull, but let's just say that it's a lot closer to real archaeology than one might hope.  The film does have a couple of chases and a little bit of gun play, but it's certainly well below par for an action movie.  The most exciting part of the film -- if you can call it that -- takes place in a torch-lit chamber, and shaky camera work and quick cuts make it impossible to tell what's going on.  Other than that, a car chase, and a foot chase, there isn't a lot of action. 

Okay, but a movie doesn't need action to be good, right?  Well, an action movie does.  If this isn't an action movie, it'd be tough to figure out what it is.  It does have some heist movie elements, but not very many.  It does have the "figure out the mystery of the founding fathers" thing going for it, but again, it's not particularly interesting.  That leaves comedy, which leaves a lot to be desired.  The film has a lot of those witty comments you'd expect in a Jerry Bruckheimer mega-movie, but the witty comments aren't witty.  There isn't a memorably good laugh in the entire movie.  There are a couple of cute chuckles, but they're pretty obvious.

A good word to describe this movie would be formulaic.  One can't help but wonder if the cast was fully aware that they were in a really stupid project; other than Justin Bartha (who plays Riley, the wily computer expert side-kick), everyone just seemed to go through the motions.  Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Sean Bean, Jon Voigt, and Harvey Keitel weren't bad, but they painted by the numbers.  By the way, some of you might recognize Justin Bartha from his role as Brian in Gigli, if you're one of the few people to have seen that movie.

Another good word to describe this movie would be silly.  The premise of the film is ridiculous, but not goofy ridiculous (like Men in Black) just "Hollywood must really be out of ideas" ridiculous.

The writers of the film clearly enjoyed doing research.  They obviously looked up a lot of historical places and figures in early American history and peppered the script with them.  If you're an American history buff, you might get a kick out of some of their hard work, but the rest of us won't be able to help but to notice that there's more emphasis on dropping historical names than there is on creating an entertaining film.  They should have done more writing of action scenes or jokes (there were a lot of obvious jokes that they missed).

The score by Trevor Rabin will be a big hit with people who like Trevor Rabin's's got some nice moments.

Other than that...there's not much to recommend.  It's a very flat film.  None of the actors (except for Justin Bartha) seem to be enjoy or working hard at their roles.  No memorable visuals, jokes, action segments, or interesting puzzles.  It's not the hardest movie in the world to sit through, but you definitely won't need to see this one again.  It could have been helped if it had some violence or nudity; as it is, it's a treasure that should be re-buried.  Ha! 

If you like Nicolas Cage, take the Nicolas Cage Movie Poster Quiz!


Expectation from the Title: The life story of Paulie Shore, America's greatest comedian.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  The characters in this film studied their history books and look where it got them!

The Pros: American history buffs will enjoy the references to the Declaration of Independence and other people and events. 

The Cons: The premise is weak, the writing (despite the extensive research) is pathetic.  Nicolas Cage doesn't have a "freak out" scene.  There aren't any memorable jokes or visuals or action scenes.  There's not much chemistry between any of the characters.  The actors don't seem thrilled to be there. 


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