National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (2-Disc Gold Collector’s Edition)

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Rating: PG

Nicholas Cage as Ben Gates
Justin Bartha as Riley Poole
Diane Kruger as Abigail Chase
Jon Voight as Patrick Gates
Helen Mirren as Emily Appleton
Ed Harris as Mitch Wilkinson
Harvey Keitel as Sadusky
Bruce Greenwood as The President

Special Features:
Audio Commentary -Director Jon Turteltaub and Academy award winning actor Jon Voight provide exclusive commentary for the film.
Deleted Scenes -Jon Turteltaub introduces extended and deleted scenes including “Pursuit at Rushmore: The Unseen Chapter,” in which the intrepid group of treasure hunters makes its way into the Black Hills of South Dakota while doing their best to avoid the FBI.
The Treasure Reel -A collection of outtakes and bloopers from the set of “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.”
Secrets of a Sequel -Filmmakers Jon Turteltaub and Jerry Bruckheimer join the cast and crew to talk about making the follow-up to the phenomenally successful “National Treasure.”
The Book of Secrets: On Location -From the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota to London’s historic Buckingham Palace, “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” was given unprecedented access to previously off limits locations. Go behind the scenes at the Library of Congress, Mount Vernon, Buckingham Palace and the Statue of Liberty in Paris.
Street Stunts: Creating the London Chase -Take a high speed tour of London’s most recognizable landmarks as the film’s unforgettable adrenaline-fueled chase scene is created in historic city streets.
Inside the Library of Congress -An informative feature about the workings of the nation’s most important library provides an up-close look at precious national artifacts and the conservation techniques that safeguard these priceless pieces of American history.
Underground Action -The sets, the stunts and the action that create the film’s powerful climax as the race to reach the lost City of Gold unfolds.
Cover Story: Crafting the Presidents’ Book -A fascinating look at the propmasters and designers who created the legendary book central to “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.”
Evolution of a Golden City -A look at the Hollywood sets, CGI techniques and visual effects that brought the legendary City of Gold to life.
Knights of the Golden Circle -Who were the real Knights of the Golden Circle? A short documentary traces one of America’s most mysterious and influential organizations to its roots, including interviews with KGC expert Warren Getler, the cast and crew.
Easter Eggs -Including a conversation about Beverly Hills High School with fellow alums Nic Cage and Jon Turteltaub, a look at the White House lawn scene as filmed in front of a blue screen and much more.

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Languages
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 125 Minutes

The following is from the DVD description:

“Join Nicolas Cage on a heart-pounding adventure that will have you on the edge of your seat in a race to find the Lost City of Gold. Grounded in history, imbued with myth and mystery, Disney’s ‘National Treasure: Book of Secrets’ takes you on a globe-trotting quest full of adrenaline-pumping twists and turns – all leading to the final clue in a mysterious and highly guarded book containing centuries of secrets. But there’s only one way to find it – Ben Gates must kidnap the President. Packed with fast-paced action and crackling humor, ‘National Treasure: Book of Secrets’ is a movie your entire family will want to rediscover again and again.”

“National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (2-Disc Gold Collector’s Edition) is rated PG for some violence and action.

The Movie:
Sequels are a tricky business; they’re required by their nature to deliver the same general action as the original, but they’re desired to do so in a completely different way than before. The result is usually ‘more of the same’ with an emphasis on the more part by raising the stakes of the action at the expense of any sort of actual growth. In that context, “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” is a perfectly ordinary Hollywood sequel.

Typically, the first act then is to try and return the heroes to the same state as the first film, regardless of what kind of success they’d previously had. For instance, the main romantic pair are broken up for some vague reason so that they can engage in the same banter and sexual tension as before (check), they’re suddenly in dire financial straits (check) and any fame that’s been garnered has been completely reversed (check). It’s the last that’s the most important for “Book of Secrets,” as the sudden revelation that famous treasure hunter (and patriot nonpareil) Ben Gates’ (Nicolas Cage) family may have been intricately involved in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln sends him rushing about the world looking for the proof that exonerates his family name and, coincidentally, another stupendous treasure. The torturous plot contortions writers Cormac and Marianne Wibberley have to go through to make that work are actually painful to watch.

Director Jon Turteltaub and producer Jerry Bruckheimer seem to be betting that all their audience really want are more clues and riddles for Gates and right hand man Riley (Justin Bartha) to figure out with various pieces of historical trivia. That’s probably a pretty good bet on their part, and “Book of Secrets” ups the ante over the original “National Treasure” considerably as they are forced to break into Buckingham Palace and eventually to kidnap the president himself to get access to the titular book of secrets, and all in just two hours as well. “Book of Secrets” packs so much into its running time that it never really stops for breath. Gone are the research and build up to the big heist, instead it’s one over the top moment after another.

That being said, “Book of Secrets” still has the same strengths as before, particularly its strong cast, which has been well added to with Helen Mirren as Gates’ historian mother (proving that some men really do only want a woman like their mother) and Ed Harris as the villainous Mitch Wilkinson. The film still benefits from Gates’ altruistic anti-hero nature, a man who sincerely believes in doing the right thing for the right reason and in approaching life in a civilized and good-natured manner, and from trying, as much as possible, to humanize its villain, giving them some sort of realistic reaction to the things they do, at least as far as is possible.

If only it took a little more time with itself, gave a little more time and thought to its characters, rather than trying to do the same thing (but more so) as before. It’s trying to do too much and, at the same time, not enough.

“National Treasure: Book of Secrets” is a pretty typical blockbuster sequel, focused intently, too intently, on appeasing what it thinks the audience wants, and missing out on what it takes to make a truly good movie. The result is a mostly entertaining trifle that really could use a little less action and little more introspection.

The Extras:
As you might expect, there are hours of bonus features on this DVD. You’ll find standard extra offerings like an audio commentary, bloopers and outtakes, and a ‘making of’ featurette entitled “Secrets of a Sequel.”. The supplementary featurettes cover the stunts done in the London Chase, the global locations (Library of Congress, Mount Vernon, Buckingham Palace and the Statue of Liberty in Paris), the underground sets, creating the Presidents’ Book prop, and the creation of the Golden City.

You’ll find five deleted scenes. The main one is entitled “Pursuit at Rushmore: The Unseen Chapter” and it shows how they trimmed many minutes from the film by simply adding a brief two minute scene in the theatrical version. It shows Nicholas Cage as Ben Gates calling in Harvey Keitel and the FBI to rescue his mother from Wilkinson at Mount Rushmore. Wilkinson is arrested, then Gates talks Keitel into releasing him to help lead the team to the final clues to the Golden City. Other deleted scenes show how Riley hacked into Buckingham Palace, Keitel cornering Cage at the Library of Congress, and a couple of other minor moments.

On the historical side, there are two featurettes covering the real world aspects of the movie. One features a tour of the Library of Congress. Another talks about the real Knights of the Golden Circle. This is arguably the most interesting bonus feature on the DVD.