29 December 2007

National Treasure

Yeah, it's a few years old now, but I only just managed to sit through National Treasure. It's been on tv several times, but when I came in right at the beginning, I lost interest. This time I came in about 10 minutes into the movie, and it immediately caught my interest. This was the scene where Nicolas Cage is going to steal the Declaration of Independence so that Sean Bean can't. It was an enjoyable movie. Weird, but enjoyable. There are a few spoilers below the fold, but as the movie is extraordinarily predictable, I really don't think they spoil much.

The first thing I noticed was that it was set up like many puzzle computer games. You collect objects, run across puzzles, and have to figure out what to do next. The second thing I noticed was that there were lots of parallels to the Indiana Jones movies. Imdb lists one that I missed, along with other movie tie-ins, but misses the three that seemed most glaringly obvious to me: (1) Father-son team seeking ancient, possibly mythical, treasure; (2) The scene where they descend into the vault of the church was shot in exactly the same way as where Indy descended into the vault of a church; (3) The moment where Nicolas Cage has to let go of either the Declaration or the girl was rather obviously borrowed from the scene where Indy has to choose between the girl and the grail. I'm sure there were others, but those stood out for me. It wasn't a parody, exactly; I'd call it more of a pastiche tribute.

One other oddity. The music just before Nicolas Cage activates the secret door was taken straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean: the music in the fog at the very beginning, with the breathy flutes. It's not the same composer. Could be coincidence, but I'm not inclined to think so. Of course, in Pirates, the music started up just before the cursed pirate ship appeared... which, if it was deliberately borrowed, would suggest that the treasure was cursed... Or maybe I'm overthinking and it was just supposed to signify "treasure" in general.

So, overall, a fun romp, so long as you make no attempt to take it seriously. I think that's what turned me off the first few times I tried to watch it; the beginning had a semi-serious feel to it. Once it got going, it was a lot of fun. An enjoyable two hours (minus commercials, which I muted). And maybe at some point, I might get around to watching the sequel. `/^

As far as the Templar treasure goes... if it ever existed, I suspect it was found long ago by someone with the sense to keep his mouth shut, or else it was scattered during the French persecution. Though I find the whole Baigent/da Vinci code version of the treasure (as the bloodline of Christ) to be extraordinarily amusing, if for no other reason than because it annoys so many people.


John said...

I never saw it; mostly because Nicholas Cage tends to be an overacting ham.

I'm not surprise by the similarity to Indiana Jones, as Hollywood seems to shy away from anything resembling originality (with a few exceptions)

My brother and I recently saw Hitman. The movie was tainted for me when I saw the opening scenes. They were excerpts from the TV show "Dark Angel" The film did acknowledge that in the closing credits, though.

Qalmlea said...

LOL. I generally like Nicholas Cage. In this one, he had exactly the right level of seriousness to make the role work. Taking it too lightly would have turned it into an utter farce; taking it too seriously...probably still an utter farce. ^/^