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Monday, December 24, 2007:
'National Treasure: Book of Secrets" (2007) - movie review

Treasure hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates looks to discover the truth behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, by uncovering the mystery within the 18 pages missing from assassin John Wilkes Booth's diary.

The sequel to the fun and enjoyable "National Treasure", "Book of Secrets" tells the story of treasure hunter Ben Gates as he tries to clear his family name when evidence is presented that seems to prove that a Gates ancestor may have been involved in the assassination of the great President Abe Lincoln, which devastates his father Patrick.

Not one to sit around when there are mysteries to be solved, immediately Ben rounds up the gang - ultra smart Abigail and goofy sidekick Riley - and with clues abound, heads off to Paris. Then London. Then back to Washingon, D.C. where even the current president of the United States gets involved when Ben kidnaps him. As before, historical landmarks are the keepers of many secrets that all tie together to form the answer to a riddle to one of history's most noted events, the Lincoln assassination. Yet that is only one piece of the puzzle, as further hunting also leads to more secrets.

Like "The DaVinci Code", I love all the puzzles and clues and secrets, so much so that I really wished they were real, and that the secrets of history were so cleverly kept. However that's fiction, and fact is usually not as interesting. The idea that so many knew of the conspiracy is rather far-fetched, and it is hard to believe it could have been kept a secret for so long. The big thing to remember: it's JUST a movie.

And a okay movie at that. Not as good as the first one, I'm sorry to say. Part 2 is loaded with choppy editing and big heads and the way Ben, Abigail and Riley jump into uncovering the truth bothered me a bit (one minute Ben finishes a lecture, and in almost the next he's jetting off to Paris), though I think it was because the movie had so much ground to cover. Possibly too much. There were so many clues to follow and decipher that I think too much was loaded into this movie. Don't get me wrong, I find this stuff fascinating, but I would have liked to have seen them explore more of the history of one clue instead of jumping immediately ahead to the next. Unless of course all those clues were completely fake then they would have no choice, now would they? (Add disappointed sigh).

What I did like is how Abigail is not just the pretty airhead blonde who follows Ben around like a groupie, but instead she's instrumental in using her brain and discovering clues while getting right into the action. I liked that Ben didn't have a problem with that, in fact he didn't mind asking for help from another intelligent woman who knows more about ancient languages than anyone else they know - Ben's mother. And I liked how it's brains and not brawn that makes the movie alive and interesting. There does seem to be the possibility of a 3rd movie if this movie is as successful as it promises to be.

Bottom line: it's a fun, mindless movie, not as good as the original, but still a trippy, conspiracy-theory-riddled, historical joyride, but don't get your hopes up that it's as good as the first.
And is it just me, or do Nicolas Cage's teeth seem way too big for his mouth? I've noticed this before, but now they are so blindingly white that it's distracting to me.

Oh, I am adding a link to Ebert's review, which is a little more revealing for those who have no problems with more spoilers. Me, I was glad not to have all the clues mapped out to me beforehand.

Rating: ***1/2 out of *****



  1. Kiddo and I will be seeing this. I loved the first one. Chances are, though, we'll be seeing Alvin & the Chipmunks and The Sea Horse before we see this one.

  2. I wasn't much into the first one so not sure I'll see this one. Merry Christmas!!!!!!!

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