‘National Treasure 2’ DVD Is Fun and Educational (Believe It Or Not)

Nicolas Cage says to Diane Kruger, Look at this awesome review of National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets

Having children will change your perspective on many things. I never thought it would do this for movies, but I’ll be doggoned if it hasn’t done so for me.

Years ago, before my kids watched anything more complicated than Baby Einstein on television, I approached movies in a very selfish manner. It was all about me, and that was okay because I wasn’t looking for movies for anyone but me.

Now, as a father of three, with two of my kids old enough to watch movies and enjoy them, I’m approaching things differently. As I watch any movie, I can’t help but look at it as whether it’s good for that coveted family audience.

I thought the first National Treasure was okay in theaters, but I enjoyed it more revisiting it with my oldest son on DVD. The latest National Treasure film was even more fun in theaters, and the recently released DVD is enjoyable for a family audience at home.

In National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, treasure hunter Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage) is forced to prove his ancestor’s innocence in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He enlists the help of his buddy Riley (Justin Bartha) and his estranged ex Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger). Also involved is Patrick Henry Gates (Jon Voight), Ben’s dad, and even his mother (Helen Mirren).

The sequel is even more family friendly than the original. The bad guy, played by Ed Harris, isn’t as ruthless as Sean Bean was in the first film. There’s some gun play, but it’s nothing too violent that can’t be seen in a PG film. And there’s actually lesser-known American history tidbits you can pick up from this film to boot.

With the sequel, the cast is allowed to be a little more goofy, as evidenced by Nicolas Cage’s wacky British explosion in Buckingham Palace. The chases seem to be bigger and more explosive, taking them through the streets of London in a hyperactive car chase you’d come to expect from Jerry Bruckheimer.

Part of what makes this movie work, as we saw in the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie, is that the entire cast and crew is back. Jon Turteltaub comes back as the director, which makes the film feel more like a continuation than a manufactured sequel.

The DVD is released in a 2-disc set that is loaded with special features and behind-the-scenes content. The super-cool Jon Voight joins Turteltaub for a commentary on disc one. Disc two is filled with five deleted scenes, bloopers and various behind-the-scenes spotlights, including:

    Secrets of a Sequel
    The Book of Secrets: On Location
    Street Stunts: Creating The London Chase
    Underground Action
    Evolution of a Golden City
    Knights of the Golden Circle
    Cover Story: Crafting the Presidents’ Book
    Inside the Library of Congress

There’s also an Easter egg on the second disc in the second menu to the left that takes you to a short featurette about the platform stunt.

THE UPSIDE: A fun family film with plenty of bonus content.

THE DOWNSIDE: Not as creative of a disc as the original film’s DVD release.

ON THE SIDE: In an interview with director Jon Turteltaub, I asked about my favorite scene in which Cage goes bonkers in Buckingham Palace. His answer was: “The worry about going to far is ALWAYS on your mind when working with Nic Cage. The man has no fear. He loves when he gets the opportunity to let loose. So we always try to vary the performances just a bit so that there’s a range of energy to play with. Nic was actually worried about offending the Brits. He’s extremely polite and is always a gentleman, so he actually needed a little encouragement to let go a bit.”

Grade: A-

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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