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Blu-ray Review: National Treasure 2 – Book of Secrets

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Following closely in the footsteps of its predecessor, National Treasure 2 offers little surprise and plenty of predictability. What it offers is a fun, energetic adventure filled with likable characters to carry audiences through an increasingly absurd story. This manages to entertain on its own brain dead scale as well as the original.

The full key cast returns, including Nicolas Cage still having a great time as adventurer Ben Gates. The one-line spewing sidekick remains the enjoyable Justin Bartha, love interest Diane Kruger reprises her role, and Jon Voight handles his role as Ben’s father perfectly.

New additions include Helen Mirren as Ben’s mother. Her interplay with Voight, her on-screen ex-husband, is undeniably fun. Ed Harris takes over as the latest memorable screen villain, with the right level of evil in his eye to make him hated in a PG-rated film.

Action sequences include a wild car chase through London streets that involves a keg truck losing its cargo and the finale through the “Lost City of Gold” that brings a fantastic sense of danger. Tension is high throughout even though it's obvious given the type of movie this is that none of the core cast is going to perish. The set-up for a third sequel is hardly surprising.

It’s amazing how well Jon Turteltaub manages to draw the audience's attention away from the inept dialogue and keep the story flowing without any downtime. Never mind that security in and around the White House is beyond lax. What’s important is that the secret is hidden inside and Gates needs to find a way in. National Treasure 2 is just as successful as the original in handling this, not to mention just as entertaining as a piece of escapist entertainment.

While the first movie has been given a transfer that is undoubtedly demo-worthy, the sequel is even better. Detail is presented here on a level that ranks amongst the best live action films on the market. It’s remarkable to make out every wrinkle on every piece of clothing and every facial detail or strand of hair is visible. Black levels, contrast, and color are perfect. There is no visible grain, though maybe a small hint of noise in some of the brightest whites (although this lasts for all of a few seconds). That’s nitpicking at best.

Mostly front loaded with dialogue, the few action scenes provide some decent surround work. Debris during the crumbling finish is active if slightly louder than it should be in the rear channels. Bass is consistent and powerful, with a nice deep rumble providing the proper effect. The car chase is a bit of a disappointment which is in line with the first film on Blu-ray, with missed opportunity for full immersion.

Filled with short featurettes and exclusives, the Blu-ray edition offers a nice look at the film. A commentary has Turteltaub and Voight taking on the movie together, though it’s a shame after two outings, we don’t have Cage offering his insights into his lead character. A Blu-ray exclusive pop-up trivia track is interactive in that it asks the viewer to pick out points of the film that are factual or pure fiction.

Seven deleted scenes, two only available on the Blu-ray, are all introduced by Turteltaub. Five minutes of flubs and outtakes follow. Knights of the Golden Circle is an all too brief feature on the actual group portrayed in the film at a little over two minutes. A collection of seven featurettes combine to look at various aspects of filming, coming in at close to an hour total. These are nicely done and provide decent insight into the sets, and an excellent one on how to do sequels properly.

Helen Mirren must have liked her role in National Treasure 2. She was invited to meet Queen Elizabeth II because of her award-winning role in The Queen, but was unable to do so due to her scheduling on this film.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.