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"National Treasure: Book of Secrets"

Directed by Jon Turteltaub.
Written by Cormac Wibberley and Marianne Wibberley.
Starring Nicolas Cage, Justin Bartha, Diane Kruger and Ed Harris.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  12/19/07


I said it throughout my review of the 2004 adventure "National Treasure"--something about the film makes you realize IN THE MOMENT that all of this is ridiculous, but it's watchable, at times very watchable, because it does just enough with its core threesome of lead actors (Nic Cage, Justin Bartha and Diane Kruger) and a very amusing line of puzzles to keep it going.

But, they weren't getting me twice, and while watching "National Treasure: Book of Secrets", even I had to admit that the plot is so ridiculous that someone ought to win an award for this horseshit.  I mean, not only are treasure maps hidden in TWIN FUCKING DESKS, they are hidden within Buckingham Palace and the Oval Office of the White House...and, essentially, hero/treasure hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates (Cage) just walks in through the front door and gets access to both pieces of this puzzle.

Did I mention that later, Gates even kidnaps the President of the United States?

Look, you come in knowing this will be silly business, and at least the film delivers on that initial promise.  But, this go-round, I was not swept away in the Disney magic of this adventure; it was more "WTF!" than "Holy smokes!", if you catch my drift.  Bartha, returning as Gates' sidekick Riley, has most of the film's funny lines, and he generally saves his scenes from being completely gag-worthy; Ed Harris isn't strong as the film's bad guy; Harvey Keitel shows up as either a cop or a fed (maybe a fed), but either way, he, too, was wasted here.  The story moves us from exotic point to exotic point (DC to Paris to London to DC to Mount Rushmore), but the story and its puzzles were such reaches, I found this more yawn-worthy than I had previously thought possible.

My fiancée loved the first "National Treasure" film and as a pure popcorner, I am sure she will love this one, too; for others who enjoy this kind of movie, nothing has changed, and that will be a good thing for many of you.  For the rest of you, run, run away!!

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09