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Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: National Treasure (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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[b][SIZE=5]National Treasure (Blu-ray)[/SIZE][/b]
[SIZE=3]Directed by Jon Turteltaub

Studio: Disney
Year: 2004
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 131 minutes
Rating: PG
Audio: PCM 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 34.99

Release Date: May 20, 2008
Review Date: May 10, 2008[/SIZE]


[b][u]The Film
[/u][/b]
3/5

Jon Turteltaub’s [I]National Treasure[/I] is another one of those “check-your-brain-at-the-door” thrill rides which producer Jerry Bruckheimer has made a specialty. Fast-paced with reasonably intricate plotting carrying the protagonists and antagonists from one major set piece to another, it’s fun, brainless entertainment. Along the way you might pick up some tidbits of American historical folklore and trivia, but the meat of the picture is strictly entertainment. Anything else is gravy.

Nicholas Cage’s Ben Gates is carrying on several generations of the Gates family's fascination with an ancient legend concerning huge amounts of buried treasure whose location was lost with the deaths of the Founding Fathers. Possessing a single clue about an old windjammer the [I]Charlotte[/I], Cage and his confederates find themselves on a treasure hunt that carries them from the North Polar icecap to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and finally New York. Along the way, the script by Jim Kouf, Cormac Wibberley, and Marianne Wibberley brings in touches of [I]The Da Vinci Code[/I], [I]Raiders of the Lost Ark[/I], and even [I]Oceans 11[/I]. It’s amusing poking through assorted historical facts from the Revolutionary War period, and even though the film is overlong, it manages to hold one’s attention pretty much because of some fine heroes and villains and due to Turteltaub’s breathless direction, even in circumstances that are eye-rollingly unbelievable.

Nicholas Cage has a way of delivering even the driest facts with that stone-faced sincerity that keeps an audience in his corner, and he’s assisted by lightly acerbic sidekick Riley Poole (Justin Bartha). Part of their caper involves stealing the Declaration of Independence in order to get a glimpse at the back of the document, and he needs national antiquities expert Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) for that (and she also provides the lighter-than-air love interest in this PG concoction). For villains, we’ve got two of the best: Sean Bean (as smugly pompous as he was in[I] Patriot Games[/I]) as Ian Howe and the lethal David Dayan Fisher as his cohort Shaw. Jon Voight and Christopher Plummer play elder members of the Gates clan, and Harvey Keitel as the FBI agent hot on their trail keeps things humming.

Turteltaub stages some lengthy chase scenes well in the streets of Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, though he’s not able to disguise the fact that for major cities in our country, the streets and public sightseeing venues are surprisingly empty of people other than the characters in our drama. Bean’s character is also in possession of information that he’d have no way of getting ahead of time, all for the sake of keeping the plot moving. These are the kinds of lapses in plotting that a real masterpiece like [I]Raiders of the Lost Ark [/I]would have taken care of in the script stage before moving on to filming.

But for a mindless couple of hours, [I]National Treasure [/I]isn’t a bad deal. Yes, it could have been much better, but what’s here is entertaining enough.



[b][u]Video Quality
[/u][/b]
4.5/5

The film’s 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio is presented in 1080p on this Blu-ray disc using the AVC codec. Gorgeous flesh tones are the hallmark of this transfer which also boasts stunning black levels, some outstanding shadow detail, and excellent sharpness. Several scenes in low light situations may have the slightest decrease in dimensionality and impact, but those are minor inconveniences, and for the most part, the transfer is splendid. The film is divided into 19 chapters.

[b][u]Audio Quality
[/u][/b]
5/5

Like all of the Jerry Bruckheimer action thrillers which Disney has brought to Blu-ray this year, the PCM 5.1 (6.9 Mbps) audio track is a stunning achievement. There’s tremendous surround activity, a wide, open soundfield that allows discreet effects a full spectrum of sound, and very strong subwoofer activity. Trevor Rabin’s music is used smartly in both fronts and rears where appropriate to really support the drama, and the sound design is never afraid to be quiet when the situation calls for it.

[b][u]Special Features
[/u][/b]
4.5/5

Director Jon Turteltaub and actor Justin Bartha participate in a somewhat irritating[b] audio commentary[/b]. Obviously great friends, the two guys josh and needle one another rather than making a lot of salient comments about the making of the movie. Though some information is obviously imparted, their banter quickly becomes tiresome, and there are frequent gaps where no one has anything to say.

[b]“Mission History: Inside the Declaration of Independence”[/b] is a BD-Java exclusive (in 1080i) which takes a line by line examination of the famous document and from there branches off into more than thirty featurettes referencing remarks the Founding Fathers made in the writing of that important declaration. Actor Justin Bartha is the guide to exploring this splendid Blu-ray exclusive, and there are glimpses from Disney's [I]Swamp Fox [/I]and [I]Johnny Tremain [/I]in the featurettes.

[b]7 deleted scenes [/b]may be viewed together or separately and with or without director Jon Turteltaub's commentary. Together the 480i scenes run 16 minutes.

[b]"Opening Scene Animatic
An alternate ending which can be played with or without director commentary is presented in 480i and runs 1¾ minutes.

“Ciphers, Codes, and Codebreakers” is a fascinating featurette on the history of cryptology. It’s in 1080i (only one of three bonuses in high definition) and runs 11 ¾ minutes.

“Exploding Charlotteis a 6 ½ minute 480i featurette detailing the location photography for the scenes dealing with the ship Charlotte in its two principal sites: an ice storage warehouse where interior shots were filmed and in the Utah flats during winter where the actual explosion was rigged.

“To Steal a National Treasure” discusses the elaborate security system that was installed at the National Archives building in Washington after 9/11 which made the screenwriters’ job harder to plot a believable theft of the Declaration. This 480i feature runs 5 ¾ minutes.

“On the Set of American History” is a 6-minute 480i vignette in which the actors, director, and producer discuss the thrill of filming in actual historical locations in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York.

National Treasure on Location” is basically the EPK for the film, repeating a fair amount of information found in the other featurettes as important personnel on the movie discuss location filming, their experiences working with the director, the staging of the chase scene, and the construction of the elaborate sets for the catacombs and the use of special effects to make them seem even more complex. This 480i feature runs 11 ¼ minutes.

“Treasure Hunters Revealed”
is an 8 ½-minute 480i visit with some real life treasure hunters who scour the seas and explore the mountains looking for the riches they still hold.

“The Templar Knights” is a very brief 5-minute exploration of the history of the masons from Europe to America and the speculation about the possible treasure that may have been buried somewhere in the world. It’s also in 480i.

There is an available pop-up trivia track which can be chosen to play during the film.

The disc offers 1080p previews for Wall-E and National Treasure: Book of Secrets. The trailer for National Treasure is not present on the disc.

In Conclusion

3/5 (not an average)

It’s not deep, but National Treasure can be a fun ride through American history. If caper films are of interest, you could do worse than National Treasure, and the Blu-ray certainly offers a fine package of extras to go along with the feature itself.

Also included in the package is a $10 rebate coupon for use when upgrading from the standard definition DVD of National Treasure to the Blu-ray edition.

Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC
 

Dave Moritz

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Hey Matt nice review, thanks.

This title is so in my Blu-ray library as soon as it is released. I held off buying this title on DVD and after buying my Blu-ray player. I decided that I would buy National Treasure once it hit Blu-ray. :emoji_thumbsup: Now all I need is a new receiver and to upgrade my S300 to a BD30K to get the full benafit of DTS-HD MA. :D
 

Stephen_J_H

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Based on your comments on the commentary, I gather you're not a fan of the John Carpenter/Kurt Russell commentaries on Big Trouble in Little China and The Thing. I hope I'm mistaken.
 

Matt Hough

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I've never listened to either one, so I can't compare. Good natured camaraderie isn't what I was objecting to. But Bartha seems bored out of his mind and isn't much interested in talking, so Turteltaub kind of baits him to get him to talk. When he does talk, he asks questions about how his hair looks or they talk about his girl friends. Not of any interest to me. Others may feel differently.
 

Stephen_J_H

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Based on your further comments, you should check out one of the Carpenter/Russell commentaries. They're more of the "chat between buddies while watching the film" type. They do actually discuss elements of the film and the circumstances of making it, but they also go off on hilarious tangents. Sounds like this particular commentary is lame, though.
 

TonyTone

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Slightly off-topic, but does anyone know if the BD version of NT will contain a coupon for $10 MIR for having owned the SD DVD version of NT?
 

Peter Raber

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Makes me even happier that I pe-ordered this through Amazon.

I bought the SDVD before the 2nd movie came out for $10 to refresh my memory and that of my son's. I paid $9.44 for it at Target. Sounds like I'll be making .56 cents in the deal. Not that that really means anything to me. I am pleasantly surprised though that this rebaye is happening. I just hope they don't expect the original receipt.

Studios should do this more often. It would definitely get me off the fence on some titles that I might want to pick up in Blu, but am satisifed with the SDVD for now.
 

Matt Hough

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No, you'll need a proof of purchase tab from the old disc and the receipt from the new Blu-ray purchase. There are instructions on the coupon inside the package.
 

TonyD

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just finished this and again really enjoyed it.
da vinci code should have been this entertaining.


i'll watch the second one tomorrow.
the both for $40 at amazon is really tempting especially with the rebate.

sound was good but i thought the center channel or speaking was just a tiny
bit soft or muffled.

i did notice some film grain but i liked seeing it.
no grain at all sometimes makes it seem like it's too real or
too digital or something.
 

Peter Raber

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OK well that's good enough. My original still has the PoP tabs and they'll just get a copy of my Amazon receipt.

Thanks Matt.
 

Peter Raber

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Well, looks like I'll be calling Disney tomorrow. I just received my Blu-Rays from Amazon and there was no coupon in there for the $10 rebate.

I'll let you know what I find out.
 

John Lloyd

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I received both NT movies from Netflix on Tuesday and watched them that evening. I thought both movies were enjoyable but I did notice a few things about the other items on the Bluray discs.

1) There were too many previews and it was annoying not to be able to jump to the main menu.
2) The setup options were very slow and cumbersome on my Samsung BD-1200. I guess I should just be happy that the discs played without any problems.
3) The Disney Bluray intro (fireworks over the castle) was quite a bit louder than the rest of the material on .the disc. It really caught me by surprise the first time I heard it.

I am tempted to purchase both titles at Amazon while they still have the $40 bundle. However there are several other new releases I am considering so I will have to see if my wallet can handle all of these temptations.
 

TonyTone

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Me too--where did you buy your copy? I bought mine at Walmart ($24.97, for those wondering as to which big-name B&M store has it for the lowest price)...same place that carried BD copies of Con Air that were also missing the $10 MIR forms...
 

Southpaw

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First off, I've never had a problem hitting menu on my remote and going right to the main menu on Disney discs. Works all the time for me.

Second, listened to the Turtletaub/Bartha commentary last night and it wasn't as bad as I had feared. Bartha does seem bored most of the time but you can tell Turtletaub was enthusiastic and remarked about several things that were interesting. I especially liked how he described filming on top of Independence Tower in Philly. And I liked how he defended some of the things in the movie that were discussed/dissected by viewers who questioned some of the facts portrayed in the movie. "Take that internet nitpickers!!" Hahahaha
 

Peter Raber

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I got my copy through Amazon.

I just called Disney customer service (800) 723-4763, Canada (888) 877-2843 and just talked to a CSR who took down my info and is mailing me out the rebate form which she said I should get in 5-7 business days.

Very helpful, but you think they'd have the form online like they do for their Cars rebate, and I had to send a mail and wait 2 days for a response before I could get the actual phone number as I couldn't find it anywhere on their site, but at least their actual CSR took care of the issue immediately.
 

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