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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

National Treasure: Book of Secrets (review)

It’s not like the Indiana Jones movies were exactly deep and impenetrable: so why do we need Indiana Jones for Dummies? Why do we need a second one? There are very cool concepts at play here — a fabled lost Indian city made entirely of gold, the hidden conspiracy to kill Abraham Lincoln, and all sorts of neat-o clues to neat-o treasures hidden all over the planet in the neat-o-est places imaginable, like Buckingham Palace and the Oval Office. So why is it all so dull? Why does it all feel like a video game aimed at little kids, maybe one meant to sneakily teach them some American history? Why does the whole third act feel like a series of attempts to create a theme park ride? (Why, if director Jon Turteltaub [Jericho] and screenwriters the Wibberleys [Bad Boys II] feel they must actually ape actual lines from Raiders of the Lost Ark, do they think they must be so actually literal about it? “Indy, why does the floor move?” C’mon, people: have a little respect for the audience.) Why does all the dialogue sound like this: “Let’s do this stuff here so we don’t die!”? Why does Nicolas Cage’s (Next) treasure hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates lack all semblance of a personality? And why do I suspect that Ed Harris (Gone Baby Gone) only agreed to appear in this junk because they let him play the villain… and that he ended up real pissed off that even the villain turned out to be so boring?

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watch at home

MPAA: rated PG for some violence and action

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb

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