December 1, 2004

National Treasure

Yes, I am a glutton for punishment. With the hopes of having a good laugh and getting to see Philly on the silver screen, I went and saw National Treasure.

You really have to hand it to Jerry Bruckheimer. The man has made his career (and a very profitable one at that) on pure mediocrity. Whenever you see his name on screen at the beginning of a movie, you may as well set your brain on floor because you won’t be needing it. Actually, hang on to the part of it that loves explosions.

Nick Cage stars as Benjamin Franklin Gates (dear god, the writer must have been so pleased with himself on that one) the great-great-great-great-great-great grandson of everyone important whoever lived who has to find the greatest treasure that ever existed. The film starts out by throwing us right into the middle of the shallow plot and only takes a breath intermittently to pat itself on the back for how clever it believes itself to be. One thing I have learned from this movie is that America kicks ass. Way more than the rest of the world.

If The Da Vinci Code was too heady for you, you need to see this movie. Sugar water never tasted so sweet. I half-wished that the Declaration of Independence was written with gunpowder so that Gates could have crumpled it up and thrown it at someone and blown them up. Just leave your disbelief on the kitchen counter at home, I mean come on, there is no way anyone gets from Independence Hall to Reading Terminal Market that fast!

I know I expect too much, and I have a hard time not being critical, but there wasn’t even a moment where you could feel like maybe something bad might happen to one of the good guys. No danger ever seemed insurmountable, no plan too far fetched for everyone to find a way to survive. Who needs character development! The main characters are too busy running away from the underdeveloped bad guys. I can only imagine this was written in one go and in a perfectly straight line. “Ok, everyone is trapped again… I will just write them a new exit”. I wanted a non-stop thrill ride, and all I got was a history lesson. Oh, and after seeing the coming attractions I now know I live in a world where this film is possible.

Commentary (16):

1. Web says… dec 1, 2004 | 10:34 am

I agree, mediocre at best. Although it was nice to see a little slice o’ Americana.

2. Hayo says… dec 1, 2004 | 10:35 am

I really wish you hadn’t posted that last link. It made me cry in disbelief.

3. Jeff Croft says… dec 1, 2004 | 11:02 am

As someone who enjoyed The Da Vinci Code and is looking forward to that film, I was curious about National Treasure. It looks to be in the mold of Code, but I recognized right away that it was going to be more dumbed-down and stay away from anything controversial.

Thanks for the review — I’ll probably wait to rent the thing, now.

4. Andrea Piernock Barrish says… dec 1, 2004 | 11:32 am

Glad to see that NT isn’t worth my time in the theatre—I’ll probably rent it as well, since I also have a thing about seeing Philly locations in movies. (Waiting for 10th and Wolf, only because I used to live in that neighborhood.)

That last link is dangerous, I almost fell out of my desk with tears falling down my face. I could imagine seeing the trailer for THAT.

5. bearskinrug says… dec 1, 2004 | 11:45 am

Movie Exec 01: “Hey - this Da Vinci code book was exciting and all, but it takes place in a foriegn country.”

Movie Exec 02: “Yeah - what the fuck is the louvre!!!???”

6. Jared says… dec 1, 2004 | 12:27 pm

I didn’t think it was that bad, though I would have liked seeing a bit more development of the story as well. Still, the film is based on an interesting premise, even if it never gets into very intellectual territory.

7. Peter Santa Maria says… dec 1, 2004 | 12:33 pm


Jerry Bruckheimer stole all his ideas from old A-Team episodes! I demand an investigation… with lot’s of ‘splosions!

Vin Diesel is taking the comedy low road ala Ahnold in “Jingle All The Way”.

8. Graham says… dec 1, 2004 | 12:47 pm

<sarcasm>That Vin Diesel pic looks awsome!!!! </sarcasm>

9. RJ Hampden says… dec 1, 2004 | 12:50 pm

Santa Maria! I can’t believe you gave away my idea. Now I’m gonna have to come up with a new way to have something spontaneously blow up when it’s thrown at someone.
I’m never going to finish my screenplay for Mummies of Capastrano swallowed Thomas Jefferson.

10. Josh says… dec 2, 2004 | 12:10 am

Hey! Vin is okay, in that one movie where he’s a soldier (forgot the movie name already).

11. Shaun Inman says… dec 6, 2004 | 11:28 am

Hey Stan, how do they explain this adventure being “2000 years in the making?” Last I checked our nation was little more than a score over two centuries old. Did Christ steal the booty from pirates and write the DoI?

12. Jason Santa Maria says… dec 6, 2004 | 3:35 pm

Nutshell: some guy had a lot of treasure. The treasure was stolen and changed hands a lot, each time being added to, which resulted in a big pile of riches.

Then some knights found it, decided no one man could have it, formed the Knights Templar, who later became the Freemasons. They came to America and all signed the Declaration of Independence. This is all generalized of course.

After the script was done, Bruckheimer went to a hardware store and bought some duct tape to insure the plot would hold together long enough to fool the country for a few weeks.

The did surprisingly exclude all the back-story of Jesus and his years on the open sea fighting pirates.

13. JAbbott says… dec 7, 2004 | 9:46 pm

I know I shouldn’t be so surprised, but it is unbelievable that somebody thought it was a good idea to make that Pacifier movie.

14. Tim Hill says… dec 9, 2004 | 5:45 pm

what the hell was with the comedic sidekick? his every line was a a cornball one liner, and the cheesy kiss from nicholas cage ‘Come here’ gah so shit.
What’s her face™ didn’t even have a convincing personality she was so plain and stiff.
And the bad guy and his UK goon squad, with that token black guy, god so awful.

Adaptation was one of the best Nicholas Cage movies I have seen and at least ten times better than national treasure

15. Philip Wilson says… dec 31, 2004 | 9:01 am

I have to agree with Tim Hill, what in gods name was up with the sidekick? Not ONE of his jokes were funny (despite some morons lapping it up at our cinema). All the recent action/adventure movies Ive seen have featured this stereotypical “kinda-shy, kinda-wimpy, funny, off-the-wall” cumstain type character. Everything they say is so predictable they just ruin the movies for me (not that it was hard in this case).

The only part that honestly made me laugh was when the bad-guy was caught, finally, and pushed up against the cop car. The film cuts to the other side of the street, very dark, and Cage emerges from the shadows of some random doorstep and tries his darndest to look meaningful.

More cheese than you could shake a stick at.

16. Giraffe Advertising Agency London UK says… sep 28, 2005 | 7:35 am

I think you go to these movies cause you think in the back of your mind it might just be as good as the first time you saw Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sadly Not.