Thursday, August 23, 2012

EDBP: Movie Review - National Treasure

“Riley, are you crying?”

“Look. Stairs.”

Yes, this is another great, quotable movie. And I won't bore you with any preliminary speeches. Let's just jump right into the review.

(Why can't I just say: Read this post, there's spoilers ahead, regard them wisely? Oh, wait... I just did.)

Well, since I began with characters in most of my reviews, I might as well start with them now in this review.

Meet Ben Gates. Benjamin Franklin Gates. His family has a conspiracy theory about the founding fathers, and he's a treasure hunter. Well, more like a treasure protector. And he refuses to believe that the treasure is a myth.

Wait, maybe I should back up... What treasure? See, supposedly in ancient times there was a treasure, a treasure beyond all imaginings, fought over by tyrants and kings, and every time it changed hands it grew larger, until *snap* it vanished. Then knights from the first crusade found it, smuggled it back to Europe, and formed a brotherhood called the Free Masons. They believed the treasure was too great for any one man and later brought it over the Atlantic to America. When the Revolutionary War broke out, the Free Masons (which at that time included such personages as Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere) knew they had to keep the treasure from falling into the hands of the British, so it was hidden, and they devised a series of clues and maps that led to its location. Years passed, and all the clues were lost and forgotten, until only one remained, and that was the one clue that had been passed down through Ben Gates's family -- “The secret lies with Charlotte.”

And yes, that was more or less paraphrased from Ben's grandfather's words in the beginning of the film.

Okay, so that's the treasure Ben is looking for. He would like to be able to prove that his family is not crazy for believing the treasure's real. It's just something he's obsessed... excuse me, passionate about. While I'm not too fond of Nicholas Cage's acting skills at times (there are just certain lines and looks that appear forced or gruff), Ben Gates is a good character. Yes, I would include him on the list of characters I like. Besides, he's got some good lines.


Ben's not alone in his treasure hunting/protecting. Cue probably the best sidekick ever. Riley Poole. He's funny, clever with computers, and can sometimes be a Johnny Raincloud... to list a few things. I really don't think there's much I can say on Riley. Well, his wardrobe is definitely interesting, but I'm guessing he dressed that way on purpose to match his character. So, to echo Prince Edward's line from Enchanted, “What's not to like?”

In treasure hunting movies, there's always the bad guy who's always trying to get to the treasure first. So, who is it in National Treasure? It's Boromir Ian Howe. Ian's your typical, evil bad guy. He's got a gang of henchmen at his side, armed with explosives and guns. He'll do anything to make sure that he gets the treasure; kidnapping, destruction, and theft are all second nature to him. I love how he doesn't say outright that he's been involved in crime, but rather says to Ben, “I've arranged a number of operations of... questionable legality.” He joins Ben and Riley at the beginning of the movie to help them search for the Charlotte (she's a ship), and when they find the meerschaum pipe (“Is it a billion dollar pipe?”) and discover that the Declaration is their next clue (“C'mon, there's no invisible map on the back of the Declaration.”), Ian wants to steal it. Ben objects, and that's when they part ways.

So, with Ian going after the Declaration, which he'll destroy if he gets a hold of it, Ben knows that he's got to protect it. When the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security, and Dr. Abigail Chase don't listen to him, he decides to take matters into his own hands. That's when the famous line comes in,

“I'm going to steal the Declaration of Independence.”

Riley, of course, tries to talk him out of it. But Ben will not be dissuaded. During the gala at the National Archives, Ben sneaks in with Riley's help and manages to get to the Declaration. However, it's during the gala that Ian decides to steal it, too, and voila! Ben and Ian meet for the first time since disagreeing.

Meanwhile, Abigail Chase, the mean Declaration lady, is beginning to get suspicious about Ben Gates, and she follows him out of the Archives building. From there a chase ensues as Ian kidnaps Abigail, and then because of a credit card slip, Ben is forced to not return to his own apartment where he had planned to study the Declaration and find the invisible map. So, he goes to his dad's house.


Quick spotlight on Abigail: do not approve of her “Avert your eyes to the heavens” clothes, and her saucy attitude leaves something to be desired. As a person who's been trained to handle antique documents, Abigail won't let the Declaration out of her sight, so she demands to accompany Ben and Riley. She and Ben are huge history fans, so they know just about everything there is to know that they would need to know on the treasure hunt to figure out all the clues. However, there is that one time that Riley knows that one thing about history that they don't know, so let him just take in this moment... Riley! Okay! I'm moving on!

Ben's dad is Patrick Gates, the family kook. He's got a house, a job, insurance. He's the only one in the Gates family who is not taken in by tales of the treasure. He thinks the treasure is a myth, and tells Ben so.

That's a lot of story, and not a lot of my thoughts, so let's get into some of my thoughts.

I love all the rich American history that's included in this film, even though some people have argued that it's not all historically accurate. Sure, most likely there isn't an invisible treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence or a vast treasure hall dug under the Trinity graveyard, but you have to admit, it's a pretty cool idea. And it would be amazing if it were all true. I love seeing all the historical landmarks that Ben and his friends travel to, like Independence Hall and the National Archives, as well as all the historical objects they were able to tie into the film (the Declaration of Independence and the Silence Dogood letters). Plus, that billion/million dollar pipe was pretty awesome. 

Isn't it? :)

Unfortunately, as with most movies, there are iffy spots. Ugh. Several characters swear and use undesirable language. Very unpleasant. There are also two scenes my family skips: when Ben and Co. appear at his father's door, as well as the scene between Ben and Abigail in the dressing rooms. Be advised about that.

The other downer about this movie is some of the music. The main theme “Ben” is beautiful, and I absolutely love it. The strings are gorgeous! But there are times when the beat gets really heavy and my family hits the mute button. A lot more times than we would wish. Ugh. Again.

However, on the whole I think National Treasure is a very enjoyable movie. It's one of my family's favorites, and we're caught quoting it all the time. Besides some of the ones that I've already woven into the paragraphs above, here are some of our favorites.

Riley - “I don't have that on my computer.”

Riley - “Your dad's got a sweet ride.”

Riley – “Don't go by me; I broke a shoelace this morning. It's a bad omen.”

Patrick - “What have you got? Him?”

Ben - “Oh, and my personal favorite, had their entrails cut out and burned!”

Sadusky - “This isn't a day for ums.”

Ian – (after we all say {thanks to our CBCs}, “What do we want for lunch?”) “Subway.” :)

Oh, oh, oh! AND! I found a boom mike. Yep, they got a boom mike. See in the upper right hand corner, just above Riley's head? That black bump? Yep!! Haha! Epic! 

"Yeah, that would be a big problem."

So! Quickly wrapping up with final thoughts:

Rating out of 5 stars: 4 stars.

Did I enjoy National Treasure? Yes.

Would I watch it again? Yes.

Would I recommend it to other people? I repeat what I said for Enchanted: As always, use discretion. Very funny, very quotable, very clever... just be aware of certain things. 


  1. Best. Disney. Movie. Ever!!!!!! 'Nuff said. :)

  2. I love this movie!!! Historical, comedy... what more could you ask for?

  3. My mom and dad went to see this movie on the big screen, and we own it. I've never actually gotten around to watching it, though.

    But I have seen the sequel! (which we own, but my parents have never gotten around to watching. Long story ... I saw it elsewhere than home).

    So, my opinion on the sequel is this: Pretty good, quotable, fast paced, exciting, intriguing ... but not the sort of movie you want to show as your youth group VBS lesson. (where I saw it ... I went down with the kids the rest of that VBS as a result.)