National Treasure (2004) - Collector's Edition [Blu-Ray]

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Mystery
Disney || PG - 131 minutes - $34.99 || May 20, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-05-15


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Writer(s): Jim Kouf and Oren Aviv & Charles Segars (story); Jim Kouf and Cormac Wibberley & Marianne Wibberley
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Sean Bean, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel, Christopher Plummer


Theatrical Release Date: November 19, 2004


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director and Cast Member Commentary [BD Exclusive]
  • Mission History - Inside the Declaration of Independence [BD Exclusive]
  • Pop-Up Trivia Track [BD Exclusive]
  • National Treasure On Location
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Ending
  • Opening Scene Animatic
  • Treasure Hunters Revealed
  • The Templar Knights
  • Ciphers, Codes Codebreakers
  • Exploding Charlotte
  • To Steal a National Treasure
  • On the Set of American History


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (PCM 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

If you're looking to watch a film for its historical accuracies then this is not the film for you. However, if you are looking for a solid adventure film to enjoy with the entire family then do yourself a favor and go out and rent or purchase National Treasure on Blu-ray.

Before getting the Blu-ray disc to review I had never seen National Treasure... and now, after watching the film and all of the special features I'm a bit disappointed I didn't see it earlier. As a Nicholas Cage fan it was always on my 'watch list', but didn't think the movie would appeal to me. Well, I was wrong.

Nicholas Cage plays Benjamin Franklin Gates, a man who goes out to prove the passed down family story about a lost treasure is, in fact, true. Joining him on this adventure is his computer smart partner Riley (Justin Bartha) and his soon to be love interest Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger). Of course no action film would be without some sort of villain and in this case it's Ian (Sean Bean), the man who helped fund the expedition to find the treasure but has now double-crossed Benjamin Gates to collect the treasure all for himself. Along the way Benjamin has to discover and decipher new clues using his historical knowledge and tools if he wants to have any chance of proving everyone wrong and collecting a treasure worth billions.

Acting in National Treasure is a bit uneven to say the least. While Nicholas Cage and Diane Kruger do a fantastic job, I can't say the same about his partner Riley or any of Ian's expendable crew. Riley tends to act a little geeky while Ian's crew is just plain annoying. For what few lines they do have, they come off as characters who our simply in the film to collect a paycheck.

The only real problem with this film is that you really have to leave your brain at the front door and just go with the story. It's a popcorn flick with some historical information that may or may not be true. Sure, we know the year the Declaration of Independence was signed, but everything else is mostly fabrication. Nicholas Cage doe s a great job of conveying what really is false yet somewhat plausible information as truth; but don't expect a history lesson out of the film. National Treasure is a little bit Da Vinci Code with some Indiana Jones style thrown in for good measure.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All special features are presented SD with the exception of "Ciphers, Codes and Codebreakers" and the Java game. All of the special features from the 2 Disc set have been carried over to this Blu-ray release with an exclusive commentary track and pop-up trivia track. Also included is a $10 mail-in rebate if you own the previous DVD edition(s)...which is a good thing considering Disney recently upped the price on all future catalog titles $5.

Commentary with Director John Turtletaub and Justin Bartha [Blu-Ray Exclusive] - This is a hard one to judge. Turtletaub provides many interesting tidbits of information while Bartha just adds a few quips here and there. Many times its simply a silent track.

Mission History - Inside the Declaration of Independence (HD) [Blu-Ray] - A very well done Java game where you scan parts of the Declaration and learn factual information about several individuals. It’s narrated by Justin Bartha (Riley). Recommended Watch... err Play

Pop-Up Trivia Track [Blu-Ray Exclusive] - A trivia track that often has very little of importance to say.

Animatic for the Opening Scene (2:51) - Exactly what you think it would be.

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary (16:04) - Hit or miss. The film already runs about 15-20 minutes too long so I'm glad these were cut.

Alternate Ending (1:50) – A very short ending that was changed so the film would not leave movie goers in suppose for a sequel if one was to never happen. I actually preferred this over the Theatrical one. Recommended Watch

Ciphers, Codes and Code Breakers (HD; 11:49) - A great featurette that follows how several ciphers were broken with some interviews. Recommended Watch

Exploding Charlotte (6:32) - A short look at how the opening sequence special effects was done. Boring.

To Steal a National Treasure (5:43) - An even shorter feature that shows how they came up with the sequence where Benjamin Gates steals the Declaration of Independence.

On the Set of American History (6:04) - Yet another short featurette that follows the crew to several locations in the film.

National Treasure on Location (11:17) - This is the typical "It was fun, and my co stars..." type feature. Do studios really think people enjoy watching these?

Treasure Hunters Revealed (8:36) - Probably one of the best features on the disc as it shows real-life treasure hunters doing what they do best. Recommended Watch

The Templar Knights (5:00) - A short, yet in-deph look at Freemasons.

After watching all the features, I can't help but feel a little short-changed. Looking at the back of the case you think you're going to get hours worth of features, but in reality, if you're not a fan of Commentary's you're really just getting a few 5-6 minutes blurbs that really has no substance. That, combined with almost all features in SD makes this a lackluster release.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

National Treasure is presented in 1080p (AVS/MPEG-4) 2.35:1 on a 50GB disc. I did notice a little bit of grain and some noise here and there, but overall it's strictly an above-average transfer. I never once thought "Whoa! That looks amazing", but also never scoffed at a sub-par scene. This is strictly an above-average transfer for a film that was made in 2004.

Disney serves up an Uncompressed 5.1 Dolby Digital track as well as basic Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English, French and Spanish with matching subtitles. It appears Disney and Sony have more recently decided to move away from hog-heavy PCM tracks in favor of TrueHD, but what we get here is nothing short of fantastic. Right from the start of the film we get a huge explosion and then a car chase to explosions… it’s all here and ready to break all the windows in your house. I had to turn down the volume at one point because it was simply too loud and powerful.



.::OVERALL::.

While the film does have a few flaws, I simply cannot recommend the film enough. National Treasure is a great adventure film that combined with no foul language and no nudity makes this film a must see for the entire family. While not a historically accurate film, it still will swallow you in with an excellent story and great action scenes.