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National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets(2007)
When a missing page from the diary of John Wilkes Booth surfaces, Ben's great-great grandfather is suddenly implicated as a key conspirator in Abraham Lincoln's death. Determined to prove his ancestor's innocence, Ben follows an international chain of clues that takes him on a chase from Paris to London and ultimately back to America. This journey leads Ben and his crew not only to surprising revelations — but to the trail of the world's most treasured secrets.
For more about National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets and the National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets Blu-ray release, see National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 8, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Justin Bartha, Diane Kruger, Jon Voight, Helen Mirren, Ed Harris
Director: Jon Turteltaub
» See full cast & crew
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets Blu-ray Review
Is the second installment of the 'National Treasure' series worth its weight in gold?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 8, 2008
Everything I am is because of my ancestors.
It sure is funny how one can have two completely different takes on a movie upon seeing it for a second time. I saw National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets in theaters several months ago, and the movie failed to impress me. I'm not sure what was going on that day, but I remember walking out of the theater disappointed, best remembering my severe bout of boredom. The story, action, everything failed to impress, and I vividly recall my firm belief that should I review the movie on Blu-ray, I'd be giving it a score of 5/10. Watching the first National Treasure again on Blu-ray, a movie I definitely like, sparked an interest to go into the sequel with a more open mind, and I did, pushing the bad taste the movie left in my mouth aside and approaching it fresh. To my surprise, I really liked the movie this go-round. In fact, I think that while the movie is equal to the first on the overall scale, the story told in this film is a bit more interesting, the characters showing a new level of development (although I must admit to tiring of the "let's have the couple that got together at the end of the first movie be separated at the start of the second" plot device), but overall, I was pleased with the film after this second viewing on Blu-ray.
Nicolas Cage (Face/Off) returns as Benjamin Franklin Gates, treasure hunter, and now a man with a legacy all his own, known the world over for his discovery of the Templar Treasure as depicted in the first film. As the movie begins, Gates is presenting a lecture about the famed missing pages from the diary of John Wilkes Booth, the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Following the lecture, Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris, The Rock) presents Gates and his father Patrick (Jon Voight, Deliverance) with one of those missing pages, a page that suggests that one of the Gates ancestors was a conspirator in the assassination of the President only five days after the end of the Civil War. With the help of ex-girlfriend Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger, Troy), Ben Gates and his sidekick, newly published author Riley Poole (Justin Bartha, Failure to Launch), discover a code on the back of the diary page, leading them on a journey to clear the Gates family name, one that will take them to Paris, Buckingham Palace in London, the Oval Office, and Mount Rushmore. Along the way, Gates receives assistance in his search from a new character in the series, his mother and University of Maryland professor Emily Appleton (Helen Mirren, The Queen). Will Gates salvage his family's pride and maybe even discover a long-lost treasure along the way, or will Wilkinson be proven right, thus disgracing the Gates family forever?
What a sequel. With several tricks and plot twists, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets easily manages to hold our attention from the first exciting frames featuring the assassination of Abraham Lincoln to the rolling of the end credits (these are some spiffy looking credits, too). With the primary cast increased in size and with a couple of secondary characters from the first film becoming much more crucial to the proceedings, fans of the first movie will definitely want to join the gang and see what co-writers Marianne and Cormac Wibberley have in store for us in this installment. Just as clever and quick as the first, though this time sending our heroes around the world, running into people we never dreamed of meeting in the first film, and discovering objects and places of magnificent historical importance and grandeur, NT2 proves itself to be one of the finest and most entertaining sequels in recent memory.
I'm still surprised I didn't enjoy this movie the first time I saw it, but this subsequent viewing on Blu-ray left me completely satisfied and yearning for a third film in the series (the famed "page 47" or Area 51 [or both!] would be my choice for the subject material). Not only is the story a good one, but like the first in the series its presentation is tight, perhaps a bit far-fetched, but a fun ride to be a part of nevertheless. It's obvious that the cast has settled into their roles and that director Jon Turtletaub is comfortable and confident at the helm, once again directing a slick, rollicking adventure film that shows off stunning visuals from some of the most magnificent locations around the world, not to mention great action. The almost-too-intuitive Ben Gates is back, once again proving to be the world's fastest thinker on his feet, but like in the first movie, that's perfectly fine -- his character is obviously well-versed in history, and as the audience, we are so eager to discover just what each clue means that we're more than happy to let Gates solve each one for us in record time. When the clues, locations, secrets, and dangers are this well-scripted and filmed, anything with even a semblance of logic is perfectly acceptable to keep us moving towards the next fantastic locale and clue.
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets Blu-ray, Video Quality
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets takes us on its exciting journey in a wonderfully reproduced 1080p, 2.35:1 framed transfer that ranks among the very best I've seen yet on Blu-ray. The print itself is completely pristine with absolutely no blemishes. Excellent black levels are obvious from the get-go -- they are indeed inky and wonderfully presented, serving as a case study in how other transfers should approach this all-too-important aspect of creating a great transfer. Grain hardly makes is presence known, but it is indeed there, never intrusive or too noticeable, and like the first movie, it adds to the look of the film and presents to us that lovely cinematic look that showcases what Blu-ray is all about. Detail is simply marvelous and there are more awe-inspiring images here than in most other movies combined, due both to a fabulous transfer as well as the breathtaking scenery that's been expertly filmed by director Jon Turtletaub, his shots truly allowing everything to shine. When the Civil War-era Gates is looking at Booth's diary, we can easily see the frayed edges of the paper, and the pencil markings couldn't look any more real had we written on the paper ourselves. As Ben and Abigail decode the secret of the Resolute desk, the image is so clean, clear, and easily visible that I couldn't believe I was watching a movie and not lying under the desk with them. Clothing is also finely rendered, every loose thread , stitch, and seam visible on appropriately tight shots. The leather-bound edition of the President's Book is meticulously reproduced, the cover appropriately faded and broken in, and we can almost smell the mustiness when it is discovered. All of these ornate decorations and locations are bright and offer up a wonderful array of colors, showcasing just how vibrant and true-to-life Blu-ray can be. Flesh tones are also perfectly rendered. Disney has presented National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets in what can only be labeled as a flawless transfer, one of the very top available on the format.
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets Blu-ray, Audio Quality
This time presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless surround sound (the first National Treasure on Blu-ray contains a PCM track), National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets proves itself to be reference-quality listening material. A top-notch soundtrack will always make the viewer feel immersed in the action. Whether in a crowded Civil War-era tavern, a contemporary five-star restaurant, or at the President's birthday party (where Randy Travis has never sounded so good as he does in TrueHD), there is always ambience in the rear channels, livening up the track and making us feel like we're in the movie. An adventure movie at its core, dialogue remains the primary tool the characters use to decipher each clue, and the disc reproduces said dialogue with crystal-clear perfection, as if we should have expected anything else. The movie's pleasing soundtrack is never obtrusive, but perfect in its blending even when loud; it plays in the rear channels as well as the front, resulting in a fine, high quality score. There are plenty of "wow" moments to be heard throughout. A fire alarm plays in the surround speakers at Buckingham Palace loudly and clearly (and annoyingly), just another addition to the fine soundtrack heard here. The car chase scene is elevated several notches by the high quality sound, every squeal of the tires and rev of the engine is placed in just the right speakers. When the car runs over an uneven surface, the bumps are so distinctly heard and felt that we imagine what it feels like to be in the car, being jolted up and down, bracing ourselves so as not to hit our heads on the roof. There is wonderful minor ambience, such as the sound of slowly dripping water in an underground passageway at Mount Vernon. The entire last half hour of the film is a case study in how to make dynamic, extraordinary action movie soundtrack. All I can say about it is to simply listen to it and be prepared to be amazed. I found this mix to definitely match the best I've heard, no surprise coming from a brand-new Disney movie. Well done!
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Just as jam-packed as the first National Treasure Blu-ray, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets offers up a wealth of features sure to have you searching for hours, this time in high definition. First up is a commentary track with director John Turtletaub and actor Jon Voight. This track isn't quite as lighthearted as the track on the first film, but it's still fun, managing to mix the technical aspects of the film and historical anecdotes that inspired parts of the film with some fun moments of levity. There are some interesting tidbits, such as filming a scene in London meant to be New York (and digitally inserting the Statue of Liberty behind a character), or Turtletaub discussing why the Library of Congress building is one of his favorites and why Washington, D.C. is the best city to shoot movies in. I enjoyed this track; Voight definitely adds some charisma and stature to the proceedings. While there are some moments of dead air, the track moves along briskly enough and it's a recommended listen for those who enjoyed the movie.
Book of History: The Fact or Fiction of NT2 ranks as one of my favorite interactive features yet on Blu-ray, encouraging us to learn more regarding the true-life history behind the movie. "Desk of the President" provides insights into the history of the Presidency; "History Makers" gives viewers facts about the most famous (and infamous) figures in American history; "Chronology" provides key dates and events in history; "Archives" is a collection of the treasures and events that have influenced history. Clicking on any of the four icons representing each category when they become available will provide a pop-up fact of interest pertaining to specific scenes in the movie. Movie watchers will also have their knowledge of history put to the test by answering whether a question is "fact" or "fiction." Players of this feature may save their program and return to continue later. Great fun, especially for history buffs!
Next on the list are seven deleted scenes (1080i, 20:27) with introductions by director John Turtletaub. It's hard not to get excited when watching these scenes as Turtletaub explains why each was removed; his passion for the project and easygoing attitude have won me over, and I can officially now state that I cannot wait for another National Treasure film, as long as Turtletaub is at the helm. The Treasure Reel: Bloopers & Outtakes (1080i, 5:03) proves to be your standard-fare blooper reel. I'm not much of a fan of these, but I know many are, and there are a few genuinely funny moments. Secrets of a Sequel (1080i, 6:48) features Turtletaub, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and the cast discussing the advantages of making a sequel and the importance of retaining the cast and crew from the first film. 'The Book of Secrets': On Location (1080i, 9:48) examines the many world-famous locations where National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets was filmed, including Paris, London, and the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Moving along, Street Stunts: Creating the London Chase (1080i, 9:41) is a behind-the-scenes look at how a Hollywood car chase is made. Inside the Library of Congress (1080i, 8:43) is a peek at the history and inner-workings of the real Library of Congress as cast and crew discuss what makes this location so special. Underground Action (1080i, 6:47) examines what it took to bring the film's crucial climactic sequence to life. Cover Story: Crafting the President's Book (1080i, 4:32) is a fascinating look at how this special book was created for the film. Evolution of a Golden City (1080i, 10:19) looks at the creation of Cibola, the fabled, oft-sought, and as-of-yet undiscovered (if it does indeed exist) city made of gold. Knights of the Golden Circle (1080i, 2:36) is a short feature that looks at the real KGC, a group depicted in the film whose aim was to continue the Civil War. Finally, 1080p trailers for Tinker Bell, Sleeping Beauty, Wall-E, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, a Blu-ray promotional montage, and a commercial for Disney parks and resorts concludes a fine and interesting supplemental package.
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets and its predecessor rank as two of the better action/adventure films in recent memory. The sequel builds off the first film but tells a story all its own, the characters becoming more real and easy to cheer for as each minute of the movie passes by. As great as the actors are, as wonderful as Jon Turtletaub's direction is, and as classy and important as the locations are, the real stars of the National Treasure films are its co-writers, Marianne and Cormac Wibberley. Their incorporation of history into the scripts and the sheer brilliance of their secrets and clues (even if they are resolved a bit too easily) is definitely what makes these movies so successful, and the best way to see them now is on Blu-ray high definition. Both films look great, though NT2 does fair a bit better, and as good as the supplements were on the first movie, the package here is just as good, if not better. I am glad I had the opportunity to review this film; I would have likely passed on it otherwise based on the reaction I had to seeing it the first time in theaters. I believe that any Blu-ray fan with an inkling towards history or simply solid action and adventure movies will want to add this film, and its predecessor, to their high-definition collections. Highly recommended!
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National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Disney Announces National Treasure Films for Blu-ray - February 25, 2008
Buena Vista Home Entertainment has announced that they will release 'National Treasure' and its sequel 'National Treasure: Book of Secrets' for Blu-ray on May 20th. Both blockbuster films will get special two-disc treatment and features exclusive Blu-ray extras ...
• National Treasure Films Announced for Simultaneous Blu-ray Release - February 1, 2008
Buena Vista Home Entertainment has announced that they will release both 'National Treasure' and its sequel 'National Treasure: Book of Secrets' for Blu-ray on May 20th, with 'Book of Secrets' being a day-and-date release with the DVD. In typical Disney fashion, ...
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