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60 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great action-adventure film PLUS a cartoon!
Ben Gates is just not doing well at all:

His girlfriend broke up with him
He's living with his father

and....

Ben Gates' Great Grandfather, Thomas Gates, is just about to be nationally recognized as a hero when Mitch Wilkinson steps out and announces he has evidence that Thomas Gates was part of the conspiracy to assassinate President...
Published on December 21, 2007 by R. Kyle

versus
40 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars for this unnecessary but fun sequel with an outstanding bonus "Goofy" cartoon
The opening Goofy cartoon alone is worth the price of admission to this family friendly film. Like most sequels, this one is generally satisfying, but no match to its predecessor as it simply isn't as fresh or original.

Amazon's review is solid in hitting all the plot points and general positive and negatives about this film; therefore, I'll dispense with...
Published on January 6, 2008 by Steven Hedge


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Discover the Wealth of Extras on the Collector's Edition, May 20, 2008
By 
Cubist (United States) - See all my reviews
The first disc has an audio commentary by director Jon Turteltaub and actor Jon Voight. The director talks about the acting choices that Nicolas Cage and Voight made in the first scene to show how their characters have changed between films. Turteltaub certainly knows his history and rattles off all kinds of historical factoids for a given scene. Voight speaks highly of his fellow actors and points out certain performance bits of theirs that he enjoys. Turteltaub tends to dominate the track while Voight chimes in occasionally.

The second disc starts off with five deleted scenes with introductions by Turteltaub. There is a bit more of the Mount Rushmore sequence involving a riddle about a hummingbird that ran too long and was condensed to two minutes in the final film. We also see more of Riley gaining access to the Buckingham Palace computers that allowed the actor to adlib. The best bit that should have been kept in was a scene where Ben tries to escape the Library of Congress via a skylight and his spotted by Agent Sadusky.

"Secrets of a Sequel" takes a look at how they approached this new film. The producers wanted to make it on a bigger scale with more difficult puzzles for our heroes to solve. The crucial factor in making this film was getting key cast members from the first one to return. The script wasn't done when they started filming and the filmmakers rewrote it as they went along.

"The Book of Secrets: On Location" takes a look at the different locations all over the world where our heroes look for clues. They actually shot in Paris and London and we see footage of them shooting there.

"The Treasure Reel: Bloopers and Outtakes." Cage hasn't been this funny in years as he blows lines and goofs around on set with his co-stars. We even get to see the usually unflappable Ed Harris break character.

"Street Stunts: Creating the London Chase" examines how they pulled off this action sequence. We get an indication of just how much planning goes into something like this in order to make sure everything goes off as planned.

"Underground Action" takes a look at the film's climactic action set pieces. The technicians and effects people show us how much of it was done with visual effects and practical sets.

"Evolution of a Golden City" examines the underground city made out of gold - how it was designed and then built on a soundstage.

"Knights of the Golden Circle" gives the lowdown of this extremist group and briefly details their agenda of provoking another Civil War.

"Cover Story: Creating the President's Book" takes a look at the President's Book of Secrets that is crucial to finding the City of Gold. We see how this particular prop was put together and chosen by the director.

Finally, there is "Inside the Library of Congress," a fascinating look at the actual historical building in which they shot a key scene for the film. This extra really conveys a sense of history and some of the people who work there talk about just how much and the various kinds of information that is stored there.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back to Fun!, December 22, 2007
By 
Let's get the first thing out of the way before I go into the review of this movie: it is a movie, a fiction movie designed purely for entertainment, and in no way, shape or form meant to be a serious look at anything historical. For those Lincoln's Assassination purists, this movie may just bring you to the edge of incredulity, and give you a migraine with the first five minutes. For the rest of the public, who just enjoys a fun, goofy action/adventure movie, this flick is for you.

Picking up on the fun of the first movie, National Treasure, comes the sequel "Book of Secrets". Picking up a few years after the ending of the first film, we find anti-hero Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage) trying to clear his family's name after a nefarious con artist named Mitch Wilkinson (the underused Ed Harris) produces a missing page of the Booth diary that would suggest Gates' great-grandfather was responsible for putting together the plot to kill Lincoln. That sends Gates on a quest, needing the help once again of now shock author Riley Poole (the wonderful Justin Barrtha), and eventually his ex-whatever Abby (Diane Kruger). The plot and plan quickly takes them to Paris and then London, in search of a desk with hidden compartments, which in turn, leads them back to the good ol' USA and yet another search of fantastic caverns on American Soil.

Joining the fun this time, along with Jon Voight reprising his role as Pat Gates, is the amazing Helen Mirren as Emily Appleton, Benjamin's long gone mother with steel in her veins. She's needed to interpret some interesting Indian symbols Ben finds on a piece of wood. Mirren takes to her role with aplomb, always a great actress, despite having several water scenes later on in the movie.

The plot of "Book of Secrets" is a contrived jumble of puzzles and coincidences, but then, wasn't the first one? And wasn't that what we all loved about the first one to begin with? The gang of producers managed to capture the fun of the first movie without seemingly being too redundant. As you watch the movie, if you've seen the first one enough, you can mentally check off the "this is the part that matches what happened in the first." Does that detract from my sense of fun? No!

Perhaps it's the acting (Justin and Helen are superb, and Ed Harris turns delightfully nasty in this one as well), or the action that make this just a fun time in the movies. Is any of it believable? Not in the slightest. But within the first five minutes, you must suspend your belief, and just enjoy the ride. Even when the president of the United States willingly goes on a quest with Ben Gates.... I groaned at that one.

However, I did think this was a fun film, great for a break from reality, to spend it with people that are genuinely crazy, imperfect, but yet fun.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yep, It's a Sequel. But It's Still Fun, May 22, 2008
By 
Mark Baker (Santa Clarita, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (DVD)
Thomas Gates (Joel Gretsch) had a reputation for ciphers. That's why John Wilkes Booth sought him out the night he assassinated President Lincoln. But when Thomas realized he was helping a group that wanted to keep fighting the Civil War, he tour the pages from Booth's diary and tried to burn them.

At least that's the story the Gates family has always believed. Suddenly, Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) has come forward with one of those missing pages. On the page is proof that Thomas Gates was in on the assassination.

It's just not that easy for Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) and his father Patrick (Jon Voight) to believe. They just know that if they examine the page, they'll find proof that Thomas is innocent of the charges. Enlisting the help of Riley (Justin Bartha) and Abigail (Diane Kruger), they set out to redeem the family name. To do so, they have to find the ancient Indian City of Gold. And they have to enlist the help of Ben's mother Emily (Helen Mirren), who hasn't spoken to Patrick in 32 years. With someone hot on their trail, can they complete their new quest?

Let's the honest, the first movie had plenty of flaws. But it told a fast paced story with lots of humor. This one is pretty much the same. The flaws are a little more pronounced this time, but it is just as funny as the first.

There's still plenty of humor, with the great lines being spread equally amoung the characters, although Riley still gets his share. Unfortunately, several of the best ones from the previews did get cut. The plot, while similar to the first, features new locations and clues that make it feel fresh. And the acting is still good.

Having said all this, the story does have some flaws. First of all, the movie opens with a Civil War setting, and that setting kicks off the story. Now maybe I missed something (it took me two or three viewings to make all the connections in the first one), but why are they using a page from Civil War times to track items which date from the 1870's and 80's?

Additinally, plot points seem to get glossed over. We can make the connections, but an extra few lines of dialog would have been nice. Finally, the villain was too weak for the story, and FBI agent Sadusky really had no point in returning for this film.

While it has some serious flaws, this movie is fun, and that is ultimately what this is all about. So if you are looking for pure escapism, you've come to the right place.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Of "sequel quality" but still an enjoyable movie, January 6, 2008
National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) and his father Patrick Gates (Jon Voight) are enjoying their recent recognition as treasure finders and historians. While giving a lecture at a college about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and their Great grandfather's involvement and subsequent murder on the same night a man named Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) steps forward to introduce new evidence regarding the event. The evidence provided appears to indicate that the Gates' relative was actually involved in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln instead of only a victim of circumstance. Ben and his father along with currently unlucky crony Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and Ben's recently estranged girlfriend Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) join in the new hunt to clear the Gates family name and find The City of Gold.

National Treasure "The Book of Secrets" was an enjoyable movie but I think it makes the typical sequel mistake by trying too hard to out do its predecessor in too many ways. I don't want to go into too many details about how and why as I would have to give spoilers.

The Good: Everything you found enjoyable in the first is re-served in "Book of Secrets" so expect to enjoy the same moments and aspects you found enjoyable (or un-enjoyable depending on your opinion of the first) in the first.

The Bad: Take everything that was good in the first, push it one step too far and then multiply by 3, Like I said, the classic sequel mistake. There were too many lucky breakins, too many lucky heist, too many easy solutions and a way too easy kidknapping. It just got to feeling a little to lucky and a little too convenient.

Overall: I don't mean push the movie too far down because it was still an enjoyable to watch. I just feel like it wasn't its predecessor's equal which tends to be typical of sequels. Check this move out; just expect sequel quality out of it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "And so it begins, another Gates family quest.", January 4, 2008
By 
Mike Zimmerman (Danville, PA United States) - See all my reviews
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As if treasure hunter Ben Gates' (Nicolas Cage) life couldn't get any worse after breaking up from his girlfriend Abigail Chase (Diane Krueger), he finds out that his father Thomas (Joel Gretsch) was the one behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (Glenn Beck). To clear his father's name, Ben recruits Abigail, Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), and his parents (Jon Vought, Helen Mirren) to trek across the world to find clues that would lead to the whereabouts of the evidence. But he'll have to do it before FBI agent Sandusky (Harvey Kietel) and the treasure hunter (Ed Harris) who brought up the charges find him first.

Sounds like a simplistic story, right? Well, apparently, someone forgot to tell director Jon Turteltaub. At the end of 2004, this director brought a somewhat family-friendly version of "Indiana Jones" to theaters titled "National Treasure". That's fine and all, and films like that succeed, as long as they invite the audience along for the ride. And who can say no to a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced film starring Nicolas Cage ("The Rock"). But Turteltaub bathed the whole film in non-stop expository dialogue, reducing the character personalities to simply stock figures that flat out tell the story, even if the performances from the actors (Cage, Bartha, Krueger, and Voight) are lively enough to be enjoyable.

Things haven't changed. The only changes made in the sequel "Book of Secrets" is a different story, more cast members (including a nondescript Bruce Greenwood as the President), and more locations to travel. Turteltaub is looking for an "Indiana Jones"-type adventure like the last roundabout, and the cast members are up to the challenge, but the dialogue is still explanatory instead of inviting. "Transformers" had a somewhat complex story (key word: somewhat), but Michael Bay (director of four Jerry Bruckheimer films) allowed the plot to be easy to hang on its every words without being explained non-stop.

Because of that, the action sequences aren't much to get worked up over. And Turteltaub has the galls to turn the volume up to 11 to overcompensate and let the audience get into it. But I'm not convinced. Trevor Rabin also slums with a forgettable score that could've worked, but how would I know? I got exhausted by what was going on.

The only person who seems to at least avoid exposition for about a small percentage of the time is Justin Bartha. Like Will Arnett, Bartha's another guy who gets ripped on for playing out lousy jokes that worn out their welcome. But at least he's trying to stay afloat from drowning in expository dialogue. His jokes about him being a ladies man and his car rocket off to the sky, while some jokes - whether it's Ben arguing with a kid that his father didn't kill the president or Ben and Abigail faux-arguing in a British building - fall embarrasingly flat. This is just me talking.

The performances are fine if you can ignore the mind-numbing dialogue. Nicolas Cage doesn't elevate the boring environment like he otherwise did in "Ghost Rider" or "Next", but at least he tries to bring his quirky mannerisms into the fray. The same with Diane Krueger, who is lively enough to make you forget that she's flat-out explaining the plot (someone give her a good film to work with!). Even Jon Voight and Helen Mirren do what's best with the dialogue they're given, though I wish Voight wouldn't slum after doing such a good job in "Transformers" (there's even some lame attempt at pathos here).

I don't know. Some people are going to get a rise out of this piece of entertainment, because, hey, it's PG? But "Transformers" was PG-13, and it took on some hefty risks and came out a winner. With a predictable ending to top it all off, and a promise that a third "National Treasure" is in waiting, maybe Jerry Bruckheimer should stick to his TV shows. Cause since the last two Pirates of the Carribean movies, and Michael Bay living off the $700 million success story that was "Transformers", maybe the former action producer has dried up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Film for the Whole Family, May 26, 2008
This review is from: National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (DVD)
National Treasure 2 - Book of Secrets is a very enjoyable and fun romp, and an excellent follow-up to the original National Treasure. The entire cast has returned: Nicolas Cage as Ben Gates, Diane Kruger as Abigail, Jon Voight as Ben's father, and Justin Bartha as Riley. Added to the cast are Helen Mirren as Ben's mom, who, of course, holds the key to deciphering the map, and Ed Harris as the villain. Or is he? In the end, even he is redeemed.

Book of Secrets is both action packed and full of fun. The team is on another treasure hunt, searching for the legendary "city of gold." This film has romance, adventure, wild chases, narrow escapes, unreal situations, and ridiculous coincidences. What it does NOT have is sex, drugs, violence, blood, gore, bad language, or crude humor. Yes, the plot is full of holes, but so what? This movie is entertaining, funny, and perfect for the entire family. Just suspend your disbelief and enjoy it.

And yea! There are hints of a third adventure, one commissioned by POTUS. I, for one, cannot wait to see what is on page 47. Hopefully, we won't have to wait too long.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raiders of the Lost Book, December 30, 2007
By 
Much like the film that preceded it, "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" is both completely preposterous and a lot of fun at the same time. No, I never once believed what was going on; this movie is not about believability, but about pure entertainment, much like the "Indiana Jones" films or "The Da Vinci Code." And in the tradition of "The Da Vinci Code," this film is founded on the premise that hidden clues will lead to the truth. In this case, the quest for the truth is directly related to Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage): his family name is threatened when it's revealed that one of his ancestors--Thomas Gates--may have been the mastermind behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) claims to have proof of this: a piece of a missing page from the diary of John Wilkes Booth.

Both Ben and his father, Patrick (Jon Voight), refuse to believe this is true, and immediately vow to set the record straight. Ben first needs to get a look at Wilkinson's piece of paper, and to do that, he enlists the help of his partner, Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), and his ex-girlfriend, Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger). Numerous infrared scans show that the page contains a cipher, and when cracked, it's discovered that Thomas Gates was looking for a fabled ancient city, said to made entirely of gold. Finding this city would prove that Gates was in no way responsible for killing President Lincoln. How, I'm not entirely sure, but considering how cleverly the various clues are hidden, I have to admit that I didn't really care.

As it turns out, the clues will take Ben, Abigail, Riley, and Patrick on an international journey, beginning in France with the original Statue of Liberty. There are also two special clues that function simultaneously, and while I won't say what they are, I will say that they're hidden in Buckingham Palace and the White House. I'll also say that one of the clues is missing; the only way to find it is by obtaining the legendary Book of Secrets, which has been passed down from President to President for over one hundred years. Not only does this book contain the information Ben is looking for, it also speaks the truth about the country's biggest mysteries, from Area 51 to the missing minutes of the Watergate tapes to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. According to FBI agent Sadusky (Harvey Keitel), the only way to ever see the book is to be elected President. Ben decides on the next best thing: he'll kidnap the current President (Bruce Greenwood) and convince him to reveal the book's location.

Does this not sound like a fun movie? And it gets even better: hot on Ben's trail is Wilkinson, who--as you might have guessed--wants to stop Ben from finding the treasure. Its discovery would mean that Ben's ancestor was, in fact, innocent, and that would mean that Wilkinson's family history has been a lie. Using Patrick's bugged phone as a source of information, he listens to Ben's conversations and tries to gain the upper hand. Villains in such films are almost always this sneaky, which only makes us hate them that much more. And I have no doubt that this is exactly the way we're supposed to feel; both "National Treasure" films rely on a very clear Hero/Enemy formula, like all good adventure stories do. Simply put, we root for the good guys and hope that the bad guys fail. In essence, this movie is really no different than the Saturday afternoon serials of the 1940s and `50s.

Topping everything off is Ben's mother, Emily Appleton (Helen Mirren), a History professor at the University of Maryland. She and Patrick have been divorced for over thirty years, and not once during that time have they spoken to each other. There's a reason for this: watching them together in the same room is enough to drive even the calmest, most patient person to the breaking point. When they reunite, they immediately bicker over the most insignificant things, like who should have placed their luggage in the cab on one of their old treasure hunting trips. But the main reason she's included is because Ben needs her help; one of the clues is covered with the symbols of an ancient language, and she is one of only a handful of people who can decipher them.

The film culminates with a visit to Mount Rushmore, where something special has been in hiding for centuries. Most of the finale takes place in large caverns, into which water rushes in from large, temple-like openings. Unrealistic, I know, but hey, it's probably the most fitting conclusion for a film like this. It helps that a strong sense of humor runs all throughout, simply because this is a film that can't be taken seriously. The one character that's pure comedy relief is Riley, who always seems to get the short end of the stick. When he's introduced, he's at a bookstore, promoting his latest book on treasure hunting--not only do most people walk by without saying a word, some actually mistake him for Ben. There are also a fair number of humorous moments between Voight and Mirren, who make their characters likeable while still keeping that irritating edge. I know that "National Treasure: Book of Secrets"--or for that matter, its predecessor--will never be considered a great movie, but who cares? I had fun, and that's all that matters.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars so much fun, May 24, 2008
By 
This review is from: National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (DVD)
better, simpler, and more self assured, this great sequel works on so many levels. the humor is there, the classic sense of adventure and the great charecters. i loved it and if you are a fan of Indiana Jones, you will enjoy this.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Da Vinci Code Lite, December 28, 2007
By 
This movie would strain the credulity of almost anyone capable of critical thought. It has the obligatory car chase with the suitable amount of car crashes and destruction to appeal to those who equate the quality of the movie to the number of car smashes and special effects. Of course the police never get involved and the good guys always get away. What is truly amazing in the film is that all of the machinery, latches, and levers work on the first try hundreds or even thousands of years after being installed and left unused -- a real tribute to ancient technology. Nicolas Cage is amazing in his ability to solve clues and ciphers with just a glance. This movie is cross between Indiana Jones Meets the Olmecs and a Symbologist Redeems the Family Tree -- it's a fairy tale with almost no effort to achieve a semblance of reality. Having pointed out the many flaws in this movie I would like to say that Jon Voigt does a very good job as does the actress who played his wife. The side kick Riley has the best lines in the movie and does a very good job as the comedy relief. I enjoyed the film and gave it three stars because it is fun with a bang-up ending. If you can overlook the ridiculous parts -- and there are many -- it is fun and exciting, but I don't think Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones franchise is in any danger.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good romp through Resolute story, January 1, 2008
By 
Anjinsan (Shoreham-by-Sea, UK) - See all my reviews
This movie was a great romp through history. The action was fast moving and very entertaining. I particularly loved the chase in London, with the product placement, Fullers beer, nearly going through the hero's windshield. Nicholas Cage plays the main character well, with the right balance of seriousness and humour. He is not helped by some of the dialogue at times eg. "The water must go somewhere", but hey, you can't have everything. I recently read HMS Resolute by Elizabeth Matthews and can verify that a lot of the tale about the desks is historical fact, as well as the involvement in Civil War politics. It's incredible how much actual history Disney has been able to fit in between the action. It is an ideal family film and has something for everyone. I recommend this movie.
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National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets by Jon Turteltaub (DVD - 2008)
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