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DVD Review: National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets

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National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets is the follow-up to the 2004 film National Treasure.  This time we join treasure hunter Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage) on a quest to clear his Great-great-grandfather’s name after a rival treasure hunter — Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) brings missing pages from John Wilkes Booth's diary that accuse him of being one of the conspirators behind Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.  Gates will not allow his grandfather’s name to be besmirched and gets his cohorts from his past adventure Riley Poole (Justin Bhartha) and Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) to find evidence that will clear his family’s name.  Also along for the ride are Gates' parents, played by Jon Voight and Helen Mirren.

The film gets its title from a book that’s rumored only the president has access to and contains secrets from all the presidencies including Area 51 and who shot JFK.   The book contains clues to a lost city of gold that will clear Gates’ grandfather.  The last film took Gates and company all across the US, this time it’s more international with stops in London and Paris before finally returning to the US in Black Hills, South Dakota.  The film is action-packed and a lot of fun, there’s even a set-up for a third movie when earlier in the film, the president tells Gates to look at page 47, which is mentioned just before the end of the film, and when Poole asks Gates about it, all he says is that it will be life changing.

This DVD is packed with extras; while Disc One only contains one extra, it’s a good one:

“Commentary” – There is a full-length commentary featuring Jon Voight and director Jon Turteltaub.  From the number of tales the pair shared during the commentary, you can tell they enjoyed talking about the movie. 

Disc Two is where you’ll find numerous extras. Some are better than others, and the more memorable ones to me are:

"Deleted Scenes" – Director Jon Turteltaub explains why scenes are cut out of the film. The scenes are:

Pursuit at Rushmore. This scene was cut because it ran too long and they were later able to use a scene that lasted acheived all they wanted in two minutes as opposed to the original scene which ran about 10 minutes to get to the top of Mount Rushmore.

Hacking the Palace. This scene shows how Riley was able to get access to the computer system at Buckingham Palace, but as Turteltaub says you don’t even miss it.

Pushed to the Edge. It didn’t really add anything to the film so it was cut for pacing.

A Helping Hand. Many people said this scene would never make it into the movie, regardless Turteltaub shot the scene, mostly because the set was built and there was time in the shooting schedule.

Tight Squeeze. Just an extension of a scene, and doesn’t further the plot.

“Knights of the Golden Circle” – This featurette discusses a group that wanted to create an economy that was to be based on slave labor, and gives a brief history of the knights.

“Cover Story: Crafting the President's Book. Does it exist?” – This talks about a book that contains all the president’s secrets, documented and passed down from president to president.  It may or may not exist, but it has to be based on something real that exists, be it a book, tapes, or some other form of media.

“The Book of Secrets: On Location” – This shows all the locations around the world where they had to shoot and how they received permission to shoot in London, Paris, etc. and how while shooting in London Prince Harry wanted to come down and meet the cast. This meant more security and security checks, which not everyone passed!

“Street Stunts: Creating the London Chase” – This shows what went into to produce the London Chase and how they wanted it to be unique and fun.  Also included is part of a deleted scene, which was cut for time.

 “Underground Action” – Takes a look at the sets built after Gates and company have to go under Mt. Rushmore and all the work that it took to make these sequences a reality.  

“Evolution of a Golden City” – Speaks about the true story about the legend of Cibola “The City of Gold”, what it took to create the set, and how CGI played a part in creating the Golden City.

 “Inside the Library of Congress” – This featurette takes you on an inside look of the Library of Congress, touching upon its creation, what the library is for, and how it preserves books, pictures, maps and more future generations. 

There were also a couple of average features:

“The Treasure Reel: Bloopers & Outtakes” – Your typical flubs and mistakes; nothing earth-shattering, but it's fun to watch nonetheless. 

“Secrets of a Sequel” The featurette shows what it takes to create/develop a sequel and how there needs to be a number of elements in place for it to work.  It also shows how getting the same cast together (which is one of the key elements) is a reunion of sorts since they all bonded on the first film.

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets is a movie that’s fun for the whole family and I look forward to future outings.

Grade B+

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