Friday, January 11, 2008

NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS

NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS
Nicholas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Jon Voight, Ed Harris, Helen Mirren, Bruce Greenwood, Harvey Keitel

Cinema 1, Shang Cineplex



Ok so yes I've been busy (my wedding arrangements) and had no time or rather couldn't find the time to head over to the cinemas and catch a film. So my first movie for 2008 fell on treasure hunter Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) to entertain me. He didn't disappoint. It was a good welcome back from my movies hiatus, I'd say.

There are certain films I watch purely for entertainment purposes. Any movie with Nicholas Cage in it qualifies in that category. They are mostly full of action scenes with an easy to figure out plot coupled with some romantic involvement with the leading lady sort of material.

Now back to Ben Gates, this time he embarks on another wild goose chase to several historical places to redeem his ancestor's name. Apparently his great grandfather was involved in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He of course brings along his reliable (comic) side kick Riley (Justin Bartha), his estranged girlfriend Abigail (Diane Kruger) who I thought was already his wife but it seems they never got married. His separated parents Peter and Emily (Jon Voight, Helen Mirren) and the token bad guy Mitch (Ed Harris) hot on his trail.

The treasure dates all the way back to the Lincoln assassination with the discovery of certain clues hidden with a page in the diary of John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln's assassin. Or wait I might have gotten that wrong, the treasure dates all the way back to the colonization of Americas by Spanish conquerors. Something about a city of gold full of treasures amassed during that long forgotten era. They travel around the world and find clues in famous landmarks like Buckingham Palace, the original statue of Liberty in Paris, Mt Rushmore and even the Oval Office in the White House.

So whereas the original National Treasure had some innovative aspects to offer the audience mostly through the ingenious techie Riley. Its sequel more or less banked on a rehashed formula. The implausible plot lines like kidnapping the President of the US so you can go hunting for clues together seemed rather preposterous. It also relied on comic side kick to draw in the few laughs, the ala Indiana Jones escapades into a decrepit cave/tunnel which falls apart, the antagonist suddenly turning into an ally to help find the treasure. All the cliches possible in a treasure hunt movie were present. The only added 'attraction' would be the rather brief yet significant role of Helen Mirren as Ben Gates's mother. She has a commanding screen presence with an eloquent manner of delivering her dialogue.

Well as I mentioned earlier, it is best not to take any of Nicholas Cage's movie too seriously. I mean that in a good way not as an insult. But if you do have a thing for treasure hunting escapades then I suggest you are better off watching the reality show "Treasure Hunters". This show pitted teams of 3 members each against each other for a chance to win a loot of treasure. They were given clues on their cellphone, got to travel all over the world, did arduous tasks in a race, learned important historical facts on each leg. That was an interesting reality show. National Treasure was after all just a movie!

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