Hollywood offers ‘National Treasure’ for those impatient nonreaders
Hollywood has an answer for people who don’t like to read or who don’t want to wait another year to catch a glimpse of “The Da Vinci Code” craze: It’s called “National Treasure.”Much like “Antz” tried to steal the thunder from Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life” in 1998, it seems director Jon Turteltaub wants to cash in on “The Da Vinci Code” buzz before Ron Howard releases his cinematic version of the best-selling book next year. Only, “National Treasure” focuses on secret societies without the depth of religious overtones in Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.”The movie spoon-feeds answers to ridiculously complex riddles created by the nation’s most intelligent founders, then hooks audiences with explosions, cliff-hangers and cleavage.Not that that’s a bad thing (I think Dan would especially agree regarding the cleavage). As long as you buy a ticket expecting a typical Hollywood action flick, you can easily find two hours of entertainment in “National Treasure.”But that’s also the problem: If you’re searching for any kind of depth or plausibility in “National Treasure,” you may want to dig elsewhere.From the moment Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) walks a few steps north of the Arctic Circle, finds metal with his detector, digs a foot into the soft snow and discovers a long-sought-after 19th century ship, you know the movie isn’t going to go deep.The plot relies on a long intellectual explanation to bring viewers up to speed, then continues with an adrenaline-filled treasure hunt between good guys with a sexy sidekick, and bad guys with accents. In between, it injects sentimental moments apparently meant to tug at patriotic heartstrings.If it weren’t for the manufactured tension in the good-guys-versus-bad-guys race, “National Treasure” would sink in a sea of superficiality. But with it, the movie works well enough.Glib comments like good-guy Riley Poole’s (Justin Bartha) observation that the Declaration of Independence is nearly impossible to steal because “It’s surrounded by guards, video monitors and little kids on their eighth-grade field trips” provide a few chuckles and tame the building tension. And the relationship between Gates and Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) – though completely forced and undeveloped – provides the movie with that ever-so-important romance factor.But the most intriguing element of “National Treasure” lies in the legend itself. It entices you to study the symbols on our currency and question whether secret societies left behind clues to a hidden enigma. After spending $8 (and some change) at the theater, all it takes is the back of a dollar bill to provide endless hours of contemplation about how you could be the one to break the clandestine code.After spending $8 (and some change) at the theater, all it takes is the back of a dollar bill to provide endless hours of contemplation about how you could be the one to break the clandestine code.
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