HTF UMD REVIEW: National Treasure

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by David Galindo, May 22, 2005.

  1. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    [c]National Treasure (UMD)
    Region 1 • PG • Subtitles: English • Available Now

    [​IMG][/c]

    National Treasure was a pretty big success in the box office…but how does it translate to the PSP screen?

    Thoughts on the Movie

    ”It’s tough for us because, you know, we obviously don’t do action. Even in terms of writing it, we were, ‘How do you do this stuff?’ you know, and that’s sorta where we got a new respect for Jerry Bruckheimer, basically, because as much as we were ripping on his movies, we were like, yeah, this guy can do some action!”
    -Trey Parker, on the Team America: World Police set


    I hadn’t caught National Treasure in the movies, so it was going to be a fresh experience for me on the PSP. There was one thing I found out before I watched the movie, however: Jerry Bruckheimer was the producer.

    That’s all I needed to know. So I threw my sense of logic out the window, grabbed some popcorn and Dasani w/lemon (which, I found out, was pretty disgusting) and sat back to enjoy the ride. And that I did.

    This is actually kind of a light movie for Bruckheimer…it has one car chase, three-four shootouts where the main characters don’t shoot back, one big explosion, one sexy girl who does not have a sexy love scene (but she does end up changing clothes in a changing room with well placed doors, which I suppose counts for something), and two revelations, both not surprising whatsoever. Kind of refreshing in a way…a great summer movie.

    The plot. Cage plays Benjamin Gates, who finds clues around the world to hunt for the treasure left by the Knights Templar, yada yada yada, now they have to solve it before the bad guys get it. The treasure map is, yes, on the back of the Declaration of Independence. This is one of those films that feels the need to have a caption labeling the FBI Headquarters in Washington DC…even though we only see the main characters walking out of it, and never see it again in the movie. I have a feeling they would have captioned the Washington Memorial if our heros got close enough to it.

    Gates makes a meeting with the National Archivist, Dr. Abigail Chase, to warn her that the Declaration of Independence might get stolen. This scene seems to be nothing but plot pacing, except for the fact that our National Archivist happens to be a Sexy National Archivist, which makes it inevitable for her to join our heros later on in the film. And so forth.

    I like how Gates goes on an Artic exposition, gets out of his snow plow, and walks a couple feet with a small pickaxe and digs, oh, about two feet before finding another clue. And how swanky clothing stores have co-ed changing rooms. There are some clever moments in the movie, like the chase in the market and the souvenir store. I liked this goofy movie because it kept me entertained pretty well, and I suppose that’s all I can ask for with a Bruckheimer movie.

    Video Quality

    The picture once again looks sharp and crisp, although it was formatted from its 2:35 ratio to a 1.78 ratio which fills the PSP screen (corrected, thanks Jonathan). Unfortunately, we get the same problem that the Kill Bill UMD had: brightness levels. It’s too bright a transfer, which leads to light blacks instead of pitch blacks. Since the beginning and end of the movie takes place in some dark areas, this is a major problem. We pretty much depend on the studios getting the transfer perfect on the UMD, since there is no way of adjusting the PSP screen in terms of color and contrast.

    Even the trailers in the UMD have the same problem, and I hope that Buena Vista can fix this problem for future releases, because its really irritating, more so here than Kill Bill. Too bad.

    2.5/5
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    Audio Quality

    After the stellar audio of Kill Bill, I was excited to hear National Treasure. It’s not quite as good, however- starting with the overall volume. I turned it up quite a bit before I found it fairly comfortable…then I realized it was up at maximum volume, with the 2+ UMD volume on. If your going to use your PSP speakers to watch this movie, you can forget it.

    The action sequences sound pretty good, but not anything fantastic. Great music, too- but it’s just way too quiet, even in the menus. Slightly disappointing.

    2.5/5
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    Extras

    Before the movie starts, we get some trailers in the beginning. Not acceptable. I will certainly watch the trailers if they are in the extras section, but to have to go thru them every time I want to watch the movie is bad enough on DVD, but even worse on UMD since you just want to get to the action. The trailers include the Chronicles of Narnia (very limited teaser), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and a UMD trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean.

    The menu was confusing at first- there is the Play option and nothing else. But once you use the digital pad, you get more options. I understood the menu once I watched the movie, but it could have been done better. The menu itself has a chapter selection and a special trivia track feature (press down on the menu). This is a subtitle track that runs the entire movie, basically introducing you to each actor and throwing some interesting facts about the locations and making of the movie.

    I hope that future UMDs will include something like this, because it gives another incentive to watch the movie while taking up very little precious space on the UMD. It’s a nice feature, but that’s it for the extras. No insert either.

    2/5
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    Overall…

    I did like the movie, and for those who enjoyed it as well can pick this up for around $20 online. It’s hard to rate UMDs like this though- can a chapter selection option be counted as a extra feature? Only because Sony’s movies do not have them (a HUGE issue folks, since there is no option to skip through different chapters during the movie- just moving through each one slowly.) This is a pretty average UMD overall.

    3/5
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  2. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    The Volume Level I think you can blame more on the PSP Hardware , it's just too damn weak. When you rip a movie to the Stick you can compensate somewhat similar to the UMD audio boost but this problem should have been adressed before the PSP was released. I've mostly gone back to my Dell Axim for Video watching. The screen is not as good but I can hear it. Also the fact that I mostly rip in xvid makes the PSP too hard to have to rip it to its proprietary format. Also donm't get me started on the price of UMD's its obscene.
     
  3. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    Thanks for the review. Hope I'm not going too off topic but does anyone know what compression format UMD's use for video? mpeg-2 or 4?
     
  4. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    UMDs use MPEG-4.

    And Dave, while Id agree with you, its just that the Kill Bill UMD was so much louder and nicer that it had to be the fault of the UMD, and not the PSP.

    But the PSP itself could use a good audio boost, I agree.

    And UMD prices will likely go down in the future. Some older releases are seeing a $12 price, which is great news.
     
  5. Jonathan

    Jonathan Second Unit

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    National Treasure's OAR is 2.35 not 1.78.
     
  6. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    Your right, I corrected it. Funny how the UMD did not mention this at ALL, unlike Spider-Man 2. Is there a website I can go to check the ratio of movies?

    Ill definitely be more careful next time.
     
  7. Ike

    Ike Screenwriter

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    The IMDB. Go to the Tecnical Specs column on the left hand side of the page. Since it's user submitted, it can be inaccurate, but it's a good start.
     
  8. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    Thanks Ike, that will come in handy!
     
  9. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    I'll probably try picking up a few used, especially ones that I Don't always own the movie. Under $10 preferably
     
  10. PerryD

    PerryD Supporting Actor

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    Pirates of the Caribbean was also recorded way too low. With the volume cranked to the maximum and using standard style headphones, I still could not hear the audio very well over the noise of a bus trip. I bought a pair of ear plug style headphones which hopefully should help.
     

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