"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Trailing Edge Film Review: National Treasure

This film was not particularly well-received by critics, but it has done extremely well at the box office. Given that I wanted to see a movie and decided not to see the only other viable option, Blade: Trinity, I went with the popular taste. The decision, was a mistake. Not a huge one. I only lost five bucks (student discount) and a couple of hours. Besides, I was mildly entertained. However, I often found myself thinking of concrete situations in my personal life when I should have been transported to Bruckheimer's Nicholas Cage theme park. (By the way, I have decided John Voight has almost certainly had a nose job somewhere down the line. It doesn't fit his face. Too small.)

First, the film is like an advertisement for the Freemasons. Much was made of the fact that the Lutheran financial group Thrivent financed the film about their church's founder. I have to wonder if some Masons got together and paid for a whoppo product placement here. They are the far-seeing good guys instead of shadowy figures who finance strange temples in your home town.

(minor spoilers here)
Second, the premise is beyond unbelievable. While the Founders were busy securing basic liberties, they were also engaged in a monumental scheme to hide an enormous treasure from the world, ostensibly until it would be ready to receive it. I might have liked it better if we'd had a corny ending like, "The treasure was liberty, son. The treasure was liberty." Instead, there's a giant museum treasure that was inexplicably splitting time with the American Revolution as key projects to be pursued by visionary Renaissance men.

Finally, I read many comparisons of this film to the Indiana Jones films. Not an apt comparison other than the fact that treasure is frequently involved. Stakes are quite a bit lower here. Everybody is pretty much out to find a big treasure. In the Indy flicks, the treasures are sought to accomplish some much larger purpose, like to rule the world via some supernatural means. The bigger disconnect between this film and the Spielberg giganto-hits is ACTION. National Treasure is definitely lacking in really interesting, pulse-pounding action.

My advice. Skip it.

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