February 13, 2006

National Treasure (2005)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment

131 mins. · PG
Letterboxed · 1.78:1

Format
UMD

Audio
E

Subtitles
English

Extras


Starring
Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Sean Bean, Harvey Keitel, Justin Bartha

Review by
John Nieves


Rating



(2005)

Personally speaking, I did not watch National Treasure when it came out in theatres or even when it came out on DVD. In fact, who knows if I would have seen it at all if it wasn't for the fact that I'm reviewing this UMD release of the film. I suppose that is the beauty of being a reviewer, you see and experience stuff you never would otherwise.

Starring Nicolas Cage as Benjamin Franklin Gates, National Treasure is about how Ben, and the entire Gates family has been obsessed with finding a treasure that was supposedly left in the United States by our country's forefathers. According to the story passed down to each Gates generation, the forefathers have placed clues everywhere. Ben's search for the truth has led him to find out that a major clue was left on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Having learned that someone else is planning to steal the Declaration of Independence to find this clue with no interest in keeping it preserved, Ben decides that the only way to keep the Declaration safe is for him to steal it himself.

Nicolas Cage does a solid job in his portrayal of the main character Ben Gates. He has a certain charisma to him that makes him a bankable leading man year in and year out. Other actors were great in their roles as well. Sean Bean as the "villain" in this movie does a great job as Ian Howe. Diane Kruger and Justin Bartha both do a great job as Abigail Chase and Riley Poole and lend themselves well to co-starring roles with Nicolas Cage. Considering that Cage is the only "big star" in the film, everyone else does an admirable job of keeping up with him, which is good to see. The acting hits every point well, from romantic, to suspense, to comedy.

So the acting is solid, what about the rest of the movie? This is a family movie for sure, and in that respect it does a good job of keeping you entertained throughout. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the film. This movie is definitely the type you can watch with younger kids (8 and up) and not worry about anything particularly offensive. This should come as no surprise as it is a Disney movie, but it seems as though family movies are slim pickings these days, so it's good to see one released that's actually good. Although I wish that the movie had a little bit more action than it did, the action that's in the movie is pretty good and not overly violent. They are touting National Treasure as the "New Indiana Jones" (as it proudly states on the back of the UMD box), but I think that's overstating what this movie is. It's definitely not on the same level of Indiana Jones, but it is a solid movie in its own right.

National Treasure deals a lot with American history, and although some of it might be historically correct, it's safe to say that liberties were taken for the sake of telling the story. In fact, there were A LOT of liberties taken throughout the movie. There are a few instances in the movie that would be soured a bit if you thought too much into the situation at hand. If you can suspend your disbelief for two hours and just enjoy a fun movie, you'll have no problem liking National Treasure for what it is; a good adventure movie.

National Treasure is shown in a 1.78:1 perspective, which is different from the OAR of 2.35:1. This movie doesn't suffer a whole lot due to this formatting issue. The picture is crisp and clean, but I have an issue with the color and brightness levels . Simply put, the colors are muted, and the picture is too bright. The brightness levels are uneven to the point that blacks almost look like dark grays. The brightness issue is contributing to the color problem since the brightness is more than likely washing the colors out due to the over saturation of brightness. Other than that, this is merely an average transfer; not bad, but not great either.

The audio is solid but not great as well. The volume is loud enough, but considering that I'm listening to it at "full blast" without headphones, it should be louder. This problem is less apparent when using headphones. Although the voices, music, and sound effects sound very clear, the directional usage of sound is almost non-existent. This leaves the audio being serviceable, but nothing to write home about.

I don't ever consider trailers for other movies "extras", so with that said this movie has none. Nothing. Zippo. Nada. Zilch. Seeing as other UMD releases such as Wedding Crashers has two commentaries plus deleted scenes, I'm disappointed that National Treasure has none. You couldn't cram one special feature in from the DVD release? Weak.

Although National Treasure is a good movie, I can't recommend the UMD. The Video/Audio is good but average, and the UMD provides no special features. If you really want to watch this movie, DVD is the way to go. If you're looking to see it on your PSP, get creative with your high storage memory stick.

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