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National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets - Blu-ray DVD / action DVD review
NATIONAL TREASURE Rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Actors: Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Helen Mirren, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel
Director: Jon Turteltaub   Studio: Buena Vista / Touchstone
DVD release: 20 May 2008   Runtime: 124 minutes (2 discs)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features:Audio tracks (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround - English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - English, French, Spanish), Subtitles (English, French, Spanish), 1080p/AVC MPEG-4, Audio commentary with director Jon Turteltaub and actor Jon Voigt, Deleted scenes, Treasure Reel, Secrets of a Sequel, On Location, Street Stunts, Inside the Library of Congress, Underground Action, Cover Story, Evolution of a Golden City, Knights of the Golden Circle, Easter eggs (Nic Cage and Jon Turteltaub on Beverly Hills High, White House lawn scene as filmed with blue screen, more), The Fact and Fiction of NT2, Additional deleted scenes

Lord help me, but I just love a film where a stone thing is rotated to activate a secret door. Something about this tickles the imagination and makes the National Treasure films attractive. Add to the mix the secret societies and the untold riches that lie beneath our feet undiscovered, and you've got a crowd-pleaser. National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets brings treasure-hunting pals Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage), Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), and Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) together once again to discover Cíbola, The City of Gold.

The adventure begins when Ben and his father, Patrick (Jon Voight), are giving a speech about how Ben's great-grandfather stopped the South from rising again after Lincoln was shot. Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) shows up after the presentation to hand over a missing piece of John Wilkes Booth's diary that suggests Great Granddaddy may have been a Booth conspirator, thus making the Gates name "Mudd". Naturally, the only thing to do is run a spectral analysis on the page, follow the cipher, and hopefully clear the family name. As with the first film, we can tell from the get-go who the bad guy is (most likely if you see Ed Harris and he's got lower-than-top billing, he's the bad guy).

Who cares? We're here to follow clue after clue to clear up the family name. This takes us to the most exotic locales in the world: Paris, London, Washington D.C., South Dakota... Joining the adventure is Ben's mother (Helen Mirren), an expert on ancient languages.

The exclamation point of National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets is the Book of Secrets, of course, a book that every president since George Washington has kept and added national secrets to. It contains info on the UFO crash at Roswell, the Kennedy assassination, and most likely the definitive answer to the boxers or briefs question. The clues lead us to that, so naturally Gates must kidnap the President (Bruce Greenwood) to get to the book and the City of Gold. This bit is fun-ish but over-emphasized for the role the book actually has in the film. They could have done more with that, or less and come up with a different title. Unfortunately, the filmmakers had to make a big deal in the second movie to try to equal or surpass the stealing of the Declaration of Independence. I'd like them to not make this mistake in the inevitable third film.

Naturally they find the city of gold in western South Dakota (we South Dakotans have known about this for a while), but what is not natural is the fleshing-out of bad guy Wilkinson - in the end, he's not the usual thug who's in it for the booty (meaning gold, you sicko). It's never quite clear, however, why finding a city of gold would clear the Gates' family name.

National Treasure 2 is not quite as compelling as the first one, but it's still a fun ride. I think maybe more clues and fewer car chases and explosions might have helped, but when you make a film with Jerry Bruckheimer, you go in knowing that he comes equipped with dynamite.

The second disc has some nice features, the most interesting of which is a tour of the Library of Congress. I'm definitely going to have to get a card there. There are also a couple of easter eggs, so stay sharp!
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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