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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
[] Buy posters from this movie
by David Cornelius

"When dumb movies get fun..."
3 stars

I sense a bit of reluctance from some of you in buying the premise of “National Treasure,” in which we learn that there’s a secret map hidden on the back of the Declaration of Independence, and it’s up to Nicolas Cage can decipher it before the bad guys ruin everything. “Oh, like that would ever happen,” I can hear a couple of you nattering nabobs say to yourselves. “Even if the Founding Fathers were involved in some massive centuries-old conspiracy, and even if they were able to plant elaborate hidden messages across the colonies, and even if they went ahead and spelled it ‘purfuit of happinefs,’ knowing full well how much that would confuse the crap out of sixth graders two hundred years later... well, even if I’ll buy all of that, I’ll be damned if I’ll accept Nic Cage as a modern day Indy Jones type. Even if he was cool in ‘The Rock.’”

And to you, Mr. John Q. Run-on Sentence, I say chill. Yes, “National Treasure” is two hours of come-on-that’d-never-happen. But oh, how much fun it turns out to be anyway. It’s another dandy example of Hollywood dumb fun. Did I mention it’s from the master of dumb, producer Jerry Bruckheimer? And it’s directed by the guy who made “3 Ninjas,” “Disney’s The Kid,” and “Instinct.” And the credited writers have among their shared resumes “Bad Boys II,” “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,” “I Spy,” and “Snow Dogs.” Wait, where are you going...?

That anyone could make a workable picture out of something with the names Jon Turtletaub and Cormac and Marianne Wibberly attached is a minor miracle. But hey, sometimes things work out, and the silly little action adventure that looks as smart as a head of lettuce will once in a while turn out to be, surprise, a nifty good time.

Cage stars as Benjamin Franklin Gates, fifth generation treasure hunter whose family obsession has been for some 170 years hunting down the Treasure of the Knights Templar, which is the world’s largest hidden treasure ever, or something. Don’t bother asking what Gates does for a day job, or how he affords his wacky enterprise; looking for logic in a Bruckheimer movie is like looking for actual meat in a hot dog. (Don’t ask how it was made, you don’t wanna know, just enjoy the damn thing.)

Anyway, for reasons convenient only to the plot, his treasure hunting associate, Ian Howe (Sean Bean), has turned into a baddie, leaving Gates and his smartalecky sidekick (Justin Bartha) to die in the Arctic Circle while he goes off and tries to steal the Declaration, which has the map on it, the next highly confusing clue leading to the treasure’s whereabouts. (If only the trail of clues would lead to the cast of “Midnight Madness”...) And so Gates and Sidekick decide that the only way to protect the Declaration is to steal it themselves.

All of this you already know from the trailer, which looked at first to be one of those that give away the entire plot. Turns out, nope. This caper idea is only the beginning of a zippy, convoluted (I’d say “complex,” but that would imply a higher IQ) adventure that leads to riddle solving, landmark hopping, and clock outrunning. As predictable as many of the scenes are, there’s something of a kick to watching our heroes decipher these silly puzzles. That, and the action sequences are a good ride, including a handful of tightly wound chases and a set piece involving a rickety staircase traversing what may be a bottomless pit. (Don’t ask.)

Turtletaub does his best to keep the film steamrolling ahead at a friendly pace, although most of the credit for the film’s success should go instead to editor William Goldenberg, who picks up the film’s rhythms with some slick cutting choices, and to the cast, who seems to realize just how silly it all is and decides to just have some fun with the dopey material. Bartha, in a giddy performance that effectively apologizes to the world for his vile turn in Gigli, gets all the good lines, while Cage and Bean add the charm of two actors who are enjoying the time off; they must have been telling each other in between takes, “hell, we could be working.”

And sometimes, that’s what I want from my movies. I’m a sucker for caper flicks and overly implausible mystery, and if you happen to get a few decent car chases and some dry Nic Cage wit tossed in, well, hey, bonus for me.

“National Treasure” pretty much boils down to this: if you’re not willing to suspend the disbelief that Benjamin Franklin had invented some special multicolored spectacles to decode a cryptic message hidden on the flip side of our nation’s most famous chunk of parchment, then chances are you’re not going to buy the ease with which Cage outwits the FBI, either, so you may be better off not watching in the first place.

On the other hand, if you can accept the notion that maybe, just maybe, one of our nation’s most famous buildings was constructed wholly in order to cast a very particular shadow on a very particular brick at a very particular time of day, then you just might like the part where... well, you get where this is going, so I should keep the goofiest parts to myself. Part of the fun here, after all, is figuring out where things are headed next - then watching the characters catch up with you. As realism, Turtletaub’s movie flops. As escapism, though, grab the popcorn, kick your feet up, and have a blast laughing with it.

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originally posted: 12/02/04 18:36:35
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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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