Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fillum review: National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Went to the movies last night and saw the National Treasure sequel. I've never really tried my hand at writing one of these, but I'll do my best to limit any spoilers and still put up some degree of coherent content. As much as I ever manage to do at least ...

Some good points to start. Nobody got too cutsie (or professionally greedy), so all the original good guy characters are back and all of the actors have aged well into their roles. Everyone is subtly changed, but just as the viewer would expect them to have done a couple of years on from previous events. The presentation of events is familiar to viewers and combines some new talents with variations on old tricks from the first film to move the action along at a brisk pace. The obscure historical references are easily as well done as previously, as is the attention to detail in the set dressing and prop construction.

As for the bad points; it really comes down to two major flaws as I see it. The first is more of a continuity error then anything else that would have benefited from some brief dialogue to explain how several assassinations and at least one major post-invasion fire didn't cause an interruption of transmission for a titular plot device. The Mt. Vernon exposition would have benefited here, I think.

{This being precisely vague schtick is tougher than it reads}

The second involves the bad guy du jour character played by Ed Harris. Whichever writer was responsible for this character's design obviously redacted as little as possible from the first film's baddy, slapped on a transparent coat of US Southern generic as overlay and called it a day. Phoning it in doesn't begin to describe how little original material Mr. Harris had to work with here - and a very workmanlike job he did too, I might add. I spent much of the England exterior scenes looking for Andy Bean as an extra, laughing his ass off at poor Ed's predicament. The audience would actually have been better off not to have seen the first film, it was that distracting to the suspension of disbelief any good film must create.

The obviously flimsy security breaches at Buckingham Palace and the White House are scenes nobody expects to be in any way realistically portrayed. The actors carry off the scenes quite well and I didn't have any sense of interruption of mood nor noticed any from other audience members.

A fun and very satisfying film all in all. I encourage everyone to see it in the theater rather then wait for the DVD and I hope it does well financially. I think there's at least one more episode to be crafted from this format and characters combination. Here's hoping Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney don't flinch; with all the quirks and questions to be found in even an average history book, the potential for this formula remains fresh with possibility.

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