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NATIONAL TREASURE:
BOOK OF SECRETS

Considering the amount of time that this reviewer has spent pondering the topic, there is no way to avoid stating that Nicholas Cage’s hair has got to be the most ill conceived and distracting special effect in NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS ($35). Every close-up of Nicholas Cage left me wondering if the thing on his head was a hairpiece, a weave or just a bad cut and dye job? Although, I suspect that had Nicholas Cage’s hairdresser supplied the film’s leading man with a set of visible sideburns, I may not have started this review of NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS on such an odd tangent.

NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS carries on the tradition of the first film by requiring little more from the viewer other than a willingness to forget about logic, suspend their disbelief, and be carried away on an escapist treasure hunt that is tied, ever so fleetingly, to history. So what does the viewer get for such a small investment- two plus hours of popcorn movie fun! The premise of NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS picks up shortly after the events depicted in the first firm; Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage) has earned himself more than a little respect for himself and his family name. However, when Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) comes forward with a missing page from the diary of John Wilkes Booth, which implicates a Gates family ancestor as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, said credibility goes right out the window.

Of course, the diary page turns out to be the first in a series of clues that leads Gates from the conspiracy surrounding the Lincoln assassination to another treasure hunt involving a hidden Indian city of gold. Along the way, Benjamin enlists the help of co-treasure hunter Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), his father Patrick (Jon Voight), his mother Emily (Helen Mirren), estranged girlfriend Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) and even The President of The United States (Bruce Greenwood), whose Book of Secrets holds key information to unlock they mystery. Look for Harvey Keitel as FBI Agent Sadusky, who is still desperate to put somebody in jail- although for something else this time around.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Disney really delivers the good with the 1080p presentation, which improves upon the look of the first film. The image on NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS is more consistent than on its predecessor, but that may have more to due with the newness of this movie and the ever-improving quality of filmmaking techniques. Image sharpness and clarity never waiver, plus the dynamics and dimensionality of the picture are truly top notch. Fine details in the texture of fabrics and other objects, not to mention the lines in the actor’s skin and even individual hairs are clearly visible. Colors are warmly rendered, vibrant and well saturated throughout, with the flesh tones coming across in a very appealing manner. Blacks are deep and accurate, while the whites are crisp and clean. Contrast very good and very smooth. Shadow detail runs from very good to excellent. The film elements are virtually pristine, while the level of grain is fairly minimal, but is just enough to make the presentation seem organic.

NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Atmospheric when it needs to be and aggressively mixed when required, this is a truly fine quality soundtrack that hits all the right chords. The sound design makes good use of all the outlying channels for sound effects placement, plus it provides a really nice spread to the film’s music. Speaking of music, fidelity is pretty wonderful and the sound is full-bodied and rich. Additionally, the bottom end of the track gives full weight to the effects. Voice sound natural and dialogue remains totally understandable. English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice supplements. Director Jon Turteltaub and actor Jon Voight are on hand to provide is a running Audio Commentary. Book Of History: Fact And Fiction Of National Treasure offers an interactive movie experience of Q&A, branching programs and video sub-programs (requires a Profile 1.1 player).

Supplemental programs include a number of Featurettes, which are as follows: Secrets Of A Sequel (six minutes on franchise planning), Book of Secrets: On Location (almost ten minute on national and international locations), Street Stunts: Creating The London Chase (nine minutes; self-explanatory), Inside The Library Of Congress (nine minutes on books and a whole lot more), Underground Action (a six minute look at construction the climatic location), Cover Story: Crafting The President's Book (four minutes on creating the title prop), Evolution Of A Golden City (ten minutes on creating a massive set) and Knights Of The Golden Circle (two minutes on conspiracy theory). Twenty minutes of Deleted Scenes, a Blooper Reel and Bonus Trailers close out the supplements.

NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS is more mindless, popcorn movie entertainment with the same high level of production values as the original film. The Blu-ray release looks and sounds wonderful, making NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS a worthy addition to one’s hi-def treasure chest.

 

NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS 


National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets [Blu-ray] (2007)

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DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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