As we arrived at the Ashland Street Cinema, granular, icy snow
started to fall; perhaps it was some sort of meteorological
omen. My son, Julius, and I were on our way to watch the second
installment of the National Treasure movie series: Book of Secrets.
I don’t watch a lot of Hollywood blockbusters, but I thought it
might be a fun movie to watch with my son on Christmas eve.
After being treated to a Disney cartoon short featuring Goofy,
the feature film got underway very predictably: treasure hunter
Ben Gates in front of audience of college students and professors
giving a presentation. How many times have we seen this opening
since Indiana Jones?
The film moves along very speedily in the first half with some of
the choppiest editing I have ever witnessed, a real treat for the
A.D.D. folks. Nicolas Cage plays the Nicolas Cage character
from which he rarely deviates. (Let me state here, though, that
I really enjoy his screen presence.) He is accompanied in his
adventures by his former girlfriend, Abigail Chase, whose role in
the story I still have not figured out (token beautiful blonde
female?) and his friend Riley, who despite being brilliant enough
to facilitate some unthinkable break-ins with his technological
prowess breaks in with some of the funnier mindless lines in the
movie. The nice thing about both of the National Treasure flicks
is the audacious feats that are pulled off, from stealing the
Declaration of Independence to kidnapping the president of the
United States. It makes up one or two soupcons for the
predictability of plot and perpetuation of stereotypes of Hollywood
films (e.g. destructive car chases involving driving in reverse
at high speeds through narrow spaces and without running over anyone,
encounters with precocious children, and displays of sentimentality
accompanied by strings).
Fast forward to the second half of the film, adventure time.
Though no match for the great Indiana Jones films or even the
significantly less memorable (but sexier) Laura Croft films
(hello again, John Voight), there were some exciting scenes
involving a secret underground city of gold, an oft-used prize,
but one we never get tired of.
This particular movie is part of a relatively new subgenre of film
which appeals to America’s fascination with government conspiracies
and mysterious symbologies and centuries-old occultations to be
protected at all costs. In this regard National Treasure is mere
ersatz compared to The DaVinci Code (and hopefully Angels and Demons
So what did my son think of it? When I asked him, his reply was
succinct: “Wow!” Oh well, happy ending.