National Treasure (2004) - 2-Disc Collector's Edition

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Mystery
Disney || PG - 131 minutes - $29.99 || December 18, 2007
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-12-19


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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

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: 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:
  • National Treasure On Location
  • Deleted Scenes
  • More 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
  • Riley Poole's Decode This!


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

When I first saw National Treasure in theaters now three years ago, I didn’t think it was anything that great nor understood why it was popular as it was. I’ve now seen it again probably 4 or 5 times between DVD and TV and although I still don’t think it was that good, and a good 10 minutes too long, it was at least a fun and entertaining flick.

Quickly and simply put, National Treasure is centered on Benjamin Gates (Cage) a “treasure protector”, from a long line in his family (including his grandfather played by Christopher Plummer), who is seeking a mythical and long lost treasure, the location of which is said to be on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Gates must steal it in order to stop Ian Howe (Bean) who only is interested in the wealth rather than the history of the treasure. Gates gets help from his treasure partner, Riley (Bartha), and Abigail Chase (Kruger) the curator of the National Archives.

I guess the reason for National Treasure’s popularity was the family-friendly nature with a PG rating along with that bit of mystery that both kids and adults can enjoy. Even if the movie stretches some historical elements, it does get kids interested in the country’s history and origins, so for that it is a worthwhile investment of time.

The cast is also a good reason for its success and helps drive the film’s long 131-minute runtime. Cage is, well, Cage but he’s got that instant likability that you don’t need much development to follow and root for his character; the lovely Diane Kruger is good as the love interest of the story and Justin Bartha as the comic sidekick rounds out the primary cast to go along with the underrated Sean Bean’s villainy plus veteran actors Jon Voight, as Cage’s dad, and Harvey Keitel as a detective.

National Treasure is entertaining enough but, as I said, it could’ve been a tad shorter. The cast has a nice chemistry and it’s one of the few action-adventure movies safe for the entire family.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

With the upcoming release of National Treasure: Book of Secrets coming out on December 21, Disney decided to get in on the double dip express train. This 2-Disc Collector’s Edition ports over all the extras from the original release (including the annoying treasure hunt that you must complete to get all the features) as well as a second disc of new stuff.

DISC 1:
National Treasure On Location (11:17) – This is a ‘making-of’ featurette that goes behind the scenes with the cast and crew talking about how cool it is to make the movie on location at the different historical sites.

Deleted Scenes (7:47) – An intro from director Jon Turteltaub is also included followed by two scenes, both cut down for good reason. Optional commentary is available.

Opening Scene Animatic (2:45) – Self-explanatory and fairly boring though it does give a look at how these things work during inception. An optional director’s commentary is available.

Alternate Ending (1:01) – After a 45 second intro, you get to see the alternate ending that doesn’t change the end result of the movie much except to leave open the door for a sequel. Turteltaub explains in his commentary that the scene was changed to make it more romantic.

Treasure Hunters Revealed (9:32) – A cool featurette that interviews real treasure hunters in current society. These range from high-tech hunters who scour the ocean floor and whose finds go to historical museums to the classic types who use typography maps, riding horseback for that buried treasure.

The Templar Knights (5:00) – A nice little history lesson into the Templar Knights and what their purpose was and how they eventually came to the New World and were a part of the United States’ formation.

A featurette called Riley Poole’s Decode This! rounds out disc one.

DISC 2:
More Deleted Scenes (7:45) – Each scene has a director’s intro as well as an optional commentary. None of the five scenes included are all that great but it’s interesting seeing how the editing process works chopping a scene with a good amount of dialogue and taking it down to the bare essentials. By the way, the intro and commentary seemed to had been recorded at the same time during the other deleted scenes...

Ciphers, Codes and Codebreakers (11:41) – A good companion piece to the real treasure hunters, this uses interviews with real code breakers and gives a lesson of the use of codes in history during war. This is presented in anamorphic widescreen.

Exploding Charlotte (6:32) – (From DVD insert) Take a trip with the cast and crew from a freezer in California to the icy mountains of Park City, Utah, to see how they made the opening scene come to life. -- This is a good little featurette that expands on the scene a little more than what was covered in the “On Location” feature.

To Steal a National Treasure (5:43) – (From DVD insert) The creators of the film explain how they devised the plan to steal the Declaration of Independence in the movie. -- Some of this was already touched upon in the “National Treasure On Location” featurette.

On the Set of American History (6:04) - Another “Behind-the-Scenes” featurette that follows the cast and crew from one historical location to another. Yes, I get it the movie makes sure to be as location accurate as possible.

The new material provided here is good but double-dip worthy? No way. No movie cash is included to see the sequel and no commentary makes this a disappointing release. If you already own the original release, keep it as you’re really not missing all that much.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Comparing the 2005 DVD release with this new one, the transfers are, from my eye, identical. No new transfer here, but there was nothing wrong with the old one. I should note the menus on disc one are the same and other than some new advertising for other Disney releases, the disc art and a Spanish track, they are the same (hell, the insert is about the same except for the addition of disc two’s content.

In any case, the movie is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 2.35 OAR. It looks just fine as before. Colors at times seem to be a bit under saturated but nothing obvious. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is suitable enough for home theaters.



.::OVERALL::.

While everything on this release is nice, there’s not nearly enough extra material that warrants a double-dip for those who already own the previous release. If you never bought the original and don’t mind paying about $5 extra (as the “Widescreen” edition can be found for around $8 or less), then it might be worth it.