DVD Review: National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets
Release Date: May 20, 2008
Distributor: Walt Disney Video
· Jon Turteltaub
· Nicolas Cage
· Justin Bartha
· Diane Kruger
· Jon Voight
· Helen Mirren
· Ed Harris
· Harvey Keitel
· IMDb: National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets
by R.J. Carter
Published: May 19, 2008
The cast of "National Treasure" reunites for this slam-bang sequel that gives the viewer few chances to catch his breath.
Starting with the Lincoln assassination, we fast forward into the present and learn how the events we've witnessed have been misinterpreted by the discovery of a single page of the infamous Boothe diary -- a page that indicates that Ben Gates' (played by Nicolas Cage) great-grandfather was one of the conspirators in the assassination, and could have even been the mastermind behind the events.
Disbelieving of the evidence, Ben sets about to clear the family name, something that (fortuitously to the plot) can only be accomplished by successfully completing yet another hair-raising treasure hunt. Working with his comrade, Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), his father, Patrick (Jon Voight), and his (now ex-) girlfriend Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger), Ben discovers the missing page includes within it the traces of a cipher that serves as the first clue that will lead the band of adventurers to Cibola -- a lost city of gold, hidden somewhere in North America, which would potentially have given the Confederate conspirators enough wealth to renew the war effort and possibly even defeat the Union armies.
Joining the cast this go-round is Ben's mother, Emily Appleton (Helen Mirren). Her presence adds another layer of tension to the plot, as she and Ben's father have been divorced and incommunicado for decades. However, her expertise in pre-colonial languages is crucial to getting the hunt underway, and watching Mirren and Voight work together is worth the forced coincidence of the story.
Clue Club. Our heroes puzzle out the next clue in Walt Disney's
"National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets."
(L-R: Kruger, Bartha, Voight, Cage)
The whole hunt turns on the discovery of a secret book, handed down from President to President, containing national secrets that are guarded from the public -- and the only way that Ben is ever going to get a look inside that book is to kidnap the President (Bruce Greenwood). Which he does, putting himself squarely back in the sights of FBI hotshot Sadusky (Harvey Keitel), while simultaneously being chased by rival treasure hunter and chief bad guy, Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris).
Shot on location in several international settings, with a frantic pace that takes us from clue to clue through car chases and daring escapes, "National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets" is an edge-of-your-seat romp through American history. The Ben Gates character and his crew could -- and should -- easily become the Indiana Jones for the new generation.
This two-disc release comes with a cornucopia of bonus features, including an audio commentary track for the feature presentation with Director Jon Turteltaub and Jon Voight.
The second disc is crammed with featurettes. There the viewer will find five deleted scenes, introduced by Turteltaub, of considerable length. In the seven minute "Secrets of a Sequel," Jerry Bruckheimer is interviewed as well as Turteltaub and the cast and crew about reuniting everyone for the sequel. Turteltaub talks to how the process of making such a film is done, shooting down the idea that it's script first, then planning, then shooting, as he demonstrates how, with all the rewrites, all the aspects happen almost simultaneously.
"The Book of Secrets: On Location" is ten minutes with all the principals, and touches on the broadening of the scope from the first to the second film (i.e. domestic settings to international ones). Bartha talks about going on location to Europe, and Turteltaub adds, "There's no point in faking it when the real thing looks so good." They also discuss the physical and spiritual beauty that was found in South Dakota when filming there, as compared to the more exotic locales.
I'm always left unimpressed with outtake reels, and the five minutes spent seeing Cage & company flub their lines in "The Treasure Reel: Bloopers & Outtakes" did little to dissuade me from that. However, given all the other features, I can forgive its presence.
"Street Stunts: Creating the London Chase" is a ten-minute exploration of how the exciting scene was filmed -- augmented by a one-minute clip accessed through the easter egg on the first submenu of bonuses. (Click on the bas relief of the temple door.)
"Underground Action" is seven minutes spent showing the actors perform their stunts, while "Evolution of a Golden City" is a ten minute featurette on the myth of the seven cities of gold in North America, as well as the design efforts that went into creating Cibola. This feature also has extended coverage in a second easter egg that shows the several takes needed to get the Idol drop scene perfected. (Click on the brick left of the door on the second submenu, which will highlight a tribal design.)
Definitely deserving of more coverage is "Knights of the Golden Circle." At a paltry two and a half minutes, this clip with authors and historians talking about the Masonic secessionist sect that featured prominently in the opening scene of the film was worthy of more exploration than what we get here. As if to make up for that, we get eight and a half minutes touring the insides of the Library of Congress in the appropriately titled "Inside the Library of Congress."
Finally, there is the four minute "Cover Story: Crafting the President's Book." Is there really such a book? Greenwood is shown in several clips denying its existence, as we watch Turteltaub oversee the inclusion of the contents in the design stages -- one page of which is left a mystery to the viewers, but might possibly be the crucial clue to a third sequel!
Audio on this disc is in 5.1 Dolby Digital, and available in English, Spanish, or French, with optional subtitles in all three languages.
Previews on this set include "Sleeping Beauty" Platinum Edition, "Wall-E," and "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Special Edition. Additional selectable sneak peeks include "The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning," "Minutemen," "The Jungle Book 2" Special Edition, The Muppet Show Season 3, and "TinkerBell."