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Overall Rating

Awesome: 19.69%
Worth A Look: 21.26%
Average: 22.83%
Pretty Bad23.62%
Total Crap: 12.6%

9 reviews, 73 user ratings

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National Treasure
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by Erik Childress

"Dubya’s New Favorite Film?"
2 stars

The first problem National Treasure has is its trailer. Now, I’m perfectly aware that this was created well after the film had been completed, but it’s apparently the first clue anyone had that such a silly production was forthcoming. The mortification of seeing those initial 2 ½ minutes relates to seeing a semi with a blind driver run a red light as a 90-year woman crosses the street. “Please stop,” you cry out but to no avail. Months later, I would see the “PG” rating. Oh, I get it – this is a kids film, its silliness can partially be forgiven. Hmmm, maybe if I regress myself back to those days as a ten-year old who dug crazy adventures, I could really enjoy this. OK, I was wrong, for we’re only 12 minutes in and I’m staring down the face of an intense howler.

When a child is scared nearly to death by the face of Christopher Plummer, it’s hard not to laugh. But it’s only his grandpa and the boy just wants to hear the tale of the great treasure again, the one protected by a secret society of free masons including Andrew Jackson, Benjamin Franklin and all the signers of the Declaration of Independence. “The treasure of the Knights Templar is the treasure of all treasures,” we are told. Just to clarify, it’s a treasure, right?

Turns out, the film makes its first misstep here by jumping ahead to the boy’s life of a treasure-hunting adult. If we followed children along this adventure, a few more of its faults could have been forgiven. But now we’re stuck with Nicolas Cage as (no lie) Benjamin Franklin Gates and his team searching out the latest clue that will lead them to the fortune. It’s upon discovery of the next clue that Cage deciphers a riddle so lengthy that his monologue induces laughter midstream. The next time someone comes to the palpable conclusion by saying “It’s a riddle,” the laughter is irrepressible. No wonder Ian (Sean Bean) and his goons jump at the chance to split from the pack when their fearless leader refuses to go that extra mile and steal the original Declaration. After all, his team all have their areas of expertise and unlimited resources. Like Yahoo!

After everyone in the government including the gorgeous Dr. Chase (Diane Kruger) turns down Gates and trusty sidekick, Riley (Justin Bartha), he decides to steal the document after all. Now, for those keeping score, this is a flip-flop that for one could have kept the team together if he made up his mind earlier and eventually should have just healed the egos instead of forcing a race through the nation’s capital. Gates has never expressed any interest of donation, and since everyone was originally friends, can’t we just let the healing begin? Not when some group in the film is said to be “popular with Bush pilots.” I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean, although I thought this was supposed to be a kids flick.

And someone in the screenwriting workshop inserted all kinds of little lessons for the youngsters. Not those pesky life ones that preach against stealing, kidnapping and breaking the law. No, its third grade social studies all over again, putting giant labels on the screen for those who can’t read the letters identifying the important buildings. We get a description of what the Library of Congress is before the plot to steal the Declaration is mapped out in an all-too simple scheme. At times, the movie feels like an extended version of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, ironically never around when you need him.

Thus, we’re left with three Oscar nominees, two winners, the retard from Gigli and the broad who launched a thousand ships in Troy following clue after clue after, yes, another clue, being pursued by the FBI and logic bringing up the rear. Honestly, the more complex the clues get and ones miraculously preserved by centuries of progress, the more you begin to believe that the founding fathers really never wanted this treasure found. If the original Ben Franklin wanted 3-D to exist, he wouldn’t have hidden his red-and-blue bifocals from the world. Don’t you see? He was trying to save us from Starchaser: The Legend of Orin!!!

I’m betting that National Treasure had to be one of the scripts Spielberg and Lucas rejected on their long journey to finalizing a fourth Indiana Jones adventure. Very little can save it and Jon Turteltaub’s shoddy handling of the action sequences and its pacing only further bury it. I can’t even keep a movie poster unwrinkled from the time I get it free at the theater to the drive home, yet these geniuses are shooting at, throwing, running and jumping with a 228-year old piece of parchment that we’re constantly reminded is quite fragile. The enthusiasm the material demands to prevent eye-rolling and head-smacking is lost on Cage, whose character never encapsulates the joy of his pursuit, the weariness of a lifetime lost in the hunt or an obsessiveness that would only be plausible in a more adult-oriented adventure, which would again be impossible given the material.

It’s funny how many of us leaving the screening had similar variations on the theory that this could be Dubya’s new favorite movie. I wouldn’t even be surprised if a special screening was held for him since it has to do with Washington history and is right around his intelligence level. It has a hero who does incredibly illegal things because he believes them to be right. He carries the 200-year old foundation of this country over his back with reckless abandon. And for icing, the villain is defeated at a Boston library. When it comes time for Gates to have picked out his brand new house with his spoils, we should be amazed that it’s not white with giant pillars. C’mon, there has to be some shred of reality behind the film.

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originally posted: 11/19/04 16:21:36
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User Comments

8/13/20 Suzanne A really fun movie; Cage was good. 4 stars
3/31/11 TG It might be silly and plotholed, but it's genuinely fun and extremely rewatchable. 5 stars
2/20/11 Ark FINALLY! Someone else hates this turkey as much as me! 1 stars
12/26/09 Jeff Wilder Not bad popcorn entertainment. 3 stars
11/02/09 Greg needed patriotism from anti-american hollywood 5 stars
10/08/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome story! 5 stars
2/13/08 Irisea I just have to say that i really love this movie!! 5 stars
12/24/07 Matt wow..... I blame the da vinci code for this load. I want the last two hours of my life back 1 stars
11/24/07 Thomas Semesky Watchable but rather silly. You have to suspend all reasoning. 3 stars
9/19/07 j-bird it was really good 4 stars
6/04/07 Stuck In Left Yeah flawed but watchable/enjoyable enough 3 stars
5/28/07 Whitely My favorite Movie Ever! You have to watch it! 5 stars
4/15/07 R.W.Welch Too contrived to have much impact. Average acting. 3 stars
3/27/07 kathy underheart childress strokes his cock again and thinks he's the funniest man in the world 5 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega Rollicking, cheer-the-heroes adventure. 4 stars
2/01/07 Pam Fantastic! 5 stars
12/26/06 Parker H. Smock National Treasure is a government input to Hollywood fantasy wake movie about 9/11 5 stars
9/04/06 Jarkko Perälä Really, really boring 2 stars
9/02/06 the producer it made over 500 million doallrs 4 stars
6/16/06 Michele fun and clever 4 stars
5/22/06 Diane P this was very entertaining and really enjoyable 4 stars
3/28/06 Brian Meyer It's American History 101 made... AWESOME!!! 5 stars
3/09/06 Dk Patchy as hell but damned good fun to 3 stars
2/11/06 Anthony This is Indiana Jones with Nicholas Cage 3 stars
1/07/06 Michael Silly story ... good movie 4 stars
12/19/05 Quigley this was a great caper movie. good action and acting, but plot was kinda empty-headed 5 stars
12/15/05 none of your bissnes good 3 stars
12/08/05 millersxing Exploring secret societies often makes for serpentine yet silly plots. 2 stars
10/26/05 Frank Rountree Good story. Pace moves well 4 stars
10/12/05 Jennifer Free A lot of fun and clean. Great family film! 5 stars
10/04/05 Aldo not bad...much than sahara..but not as good as indiana Jones 4 stars
9/13/05 i wont tell you very boring movie 1 stars
8/17/05 Dan Not bad... it's better than 80% of the crap Hollywood released last year 4 stars
7/16/05 tony Not a bad film. in fact, i liked it. 4 stars
6/15/05 JFK damn patriotism!!!! USA sucks and this movie tries to make the ancestors good people. 2 stars
6/07/05 Helen Bradley Not worth a look boring 1 stars
6/06/05 Daniel Myers This movie is really cool! I love it! If you dont like it you dont get it! 5 stars
6/01/05 Jiz Kinda boring, weak plot. "I have connections" = "I figured you out in a scene they deleted" 3 stars
5/27/05 Quigley whoever doesn't like this film is a dope. greatly entertaining, but suspend disbelief 5 stars
5/13/05 edsandiego2 I love the DVD and the special feature. 4 stars
5/08/05 Valerie Cool movie. 4 stars
5/05/05 Dan Pretty good! 5 stars
5/01/05 Steve Newman easy film - no brain ache - I enjoyed it (on a 757 from USA) 4 stars
4/29/05 Nobody This is an awesome action/adventure, the Da Vinci code meets Indiana Jones 5 stars
4/24/05 allnight9 Looking from a family stand point this is a great movie to take the kids to 4 stars
4/17/05 iteachpc Loved it! 5 stars
2/02/05 Charlie Only okay because Nic was in it! 3 stars
1/28/05 Flicker I thought this movie was a good way to spend a cold afternoon at the theater. Liked it!! 4 stars
1/27/05 Sumie It a good movie, it makes you think, watch it! 5 stars
1/18/05 Dave M Not high art, but entertaining; appreciate it's something you can take a family to see 4 stars
1/10/05 Brett Mindless fun, a little predictable, but good 4 stars
1/09/05 burton miller unbelievable, clunky, dumb 1 stars
12/17/04 Jenny from Da block This movie kicks ass! 5 stars
12/16/04 Ranting Madman Stupid beyond measure. Another Schlockheimer triumph. 1 stars
12/13/04 Ron Dumlao not a must-see film, but i nonetheless had fun 3 stars
12/13/04 bobby da squid Awkward dialogue, absurd plot, intrusive music. Not horrible, but very mediocre 2 stars
12/10/04 Aboud A Da Vinci Code wannabe. The 'clues' arent as clever as they could have been. 2 stars
12/10/04 willliam pond excellent; you critics are certainly of of touch with main stream movie watchers 4 stars
12/04/04 Lord Jiggy Low expectations were rewarded with fun, if derivative, romp. 4 stars
12/02/04 gray BS storyline 1 stars
12/01/04 RogueJS Interesting, but too Disney-ized. It could have been dark & thought-provoking, i.e. better 3 stars
11/27/04 Destiny Pifer This was a awesome adventure movie! 5 stars
11/26/04 Vicky The purpose of films is to be entertaiining, and this one was. Great 5 stars
11/25/04 Megan National Treasure is a really cool movie cause I luv history espesially egypt & ben frank 5 stars
11/24/04 KingNeutron Sean Bean 0wnz0red this movie. And the 3D stuff *was* pretty cool. 4 stars
11/24/04 John Very interesting; very informative 5 stars
11/23/04 linda It's fun 5 stars
11/22/04 Bell Girl What a waste of money. More brainless dribble from Hollywood. Yipppeee 2 stars
11/21/04 Heath If you're looking for something fun, then a treasure you'll find in this movie. 5 stars
11/21/04 Meryl I'm a history major, and therefore found it quite a fun romp. 5 stars
11/21/04 Kristina Williams Nicolas Cage is no longer relevant 1 stars
11/20/04 impartial judgement nicolas cage needs to retire w/his underage wife 1 stars
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  19-Nov-2004 (PG)
  DVD: 03-May-2005



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