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"
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
The score by Trevor Rabin will be a big hit with people who like
Trevor Rabin's scores...it'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.
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.