The best way I can describe 'National Treasure' is to imagine The Da Vinci Code, change that European setting for the United States, lessen the grisly murders and make it family friendly. In fact, I am willing to bet that was the pitch to the studio. Of course, that is not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but there are so many inconsistencies in the plot, and to me, the seemingly thrown together nature of the movie as a whole just did not gel with me.
Essentially the storyline goes like this: Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicholas Cage) is a wannabe archaeologist looking for treasure left by the U.S. founding fathers. Unfortunately for him, the last necessary clue is so close, yet so far, being inscribed on the bottom of the declaration of independence. You just can't walk up to that thing and turn it over. So begins a quest to kidnap the paper, fool the guards, cheat the security system and evade those that mean to harm Gates at bay.
No, the plot does not make sense. But is it fun? I would have to say yes. I think the main reason why is because Cage recognizes the film for what it is, an old fashioned Saturday afternoon serial, and he plays it like it should be. Had it not been for his performance, I doubt the film would have worked. Because as it is, it only barely does.
National Treasure is presented in the widescreen scope aspect ratio of 2.35:1.
It was not a particularly great sign when just minutes into the film I began to see a small amount of artifacts; that is, small flecks on the film. This did settle down relatively quickly and over the course of the rest of the film I only saw this a few more times.
Overall, the image is quite pleasing. The image is quite warm and colourful, the sharpness level is quite high and at times the image takes on a three dimensional look. On the down side, there is quite a bit of grain at times, and worse still is the video noise, especially evident in darker scenes. This unfortunately has the downside of lessened detail during these scenes.
Overall, the image is quite good, but I suspect that Disney needed the film to come out to join the concurrent release of the sequel, which probably meant they had less time to spend to iron out the few problems, small they may be, but hold it back from reference quality.
The main audio track here is an English uncompressed PCM track, at 24 bits.
Although the film may be a family oriented action film, it doesn't mean that the engineers could slacken. What we have here is a rollicking good audio track which does well to keep up with the big boys. Dialogue is crisp and audible (Cage needs to espouse logic throughout), surround channel usage remains generally high throughout, but steps it up a notch when on screen action calls for it. Bass is deep and responsive when necessary, and underscores the music, keeping the tension up.
Whilst the film itself hasn't impacted on my demo worthy Blu-ray list, this soundtrack might.
Theres quite a bit here (and everything off the previous DVD), so lets not waste any time!
First up is the Audio commentary by director Jon Turtletaub and one of the actors. Turtletaub is quite obviously very proud of his film (maybe more than he should be), but at least he can't be accused of being a bad commentator.
Next up is the obligatory Making of Documentary, which is lengthier than most these days, at 44 minutes. Clearly segmented throughout, the documentary takes a look at the usual areas; special effects, on location filming, etc. It is a little bit of a chore to watch these documentaries if you didn't love the film...this is dedication for you!
Ciphers, Codes and Codebreakers takes a brief look at the true to life secret societies that inspired events in the film. Intriguing, yes, but I still find Scientology scarier.
Next up is a collection of 15 minutes worth of deleted scenes. Unfortunately there are no bonus action sequences, just some more story oriented and talky segments. Cut for good reason in my opinion. There's also an alternate ending thrown in for good measure.
I continue to enjoy these little Trivia tracks and this was no exception. Call me a trivia nut, but I have yet to sit through a bad one. This one in particular has a wealth of back story to talk about, so if you are interested in digging up a little more information on story elements from the film (and those only briefly touched on), this should be your first port of call.
Mission history is a nice little BD Java game, which while technically impressive, may be just a little too complicated for the age group it's aimed at. And me? Well, I have always sucked at logic puzzles .
Review Equipment Used:
Display: Sony KDL52X3100 LCD (1080p resolution/ 24p playback)
Player: Sony BDP-S500 Blu-ray, PlayStation 3 (24p playback)
Sound: Sony STR-DA5300 Receiver (7.1 configuration), Sony SSX70ED front speakers (x2), Sony SSCNX70ED center speaker, Sony SSFCR7000 surround speakers (x4), Sony SAW3800 Subwoofer, (Front) Sony SAWM500 Subwoofer (Rear)