Photobucket“The secret is out!”

_ National Treasure: Book of Secrets _ Title: National Treasure: Book of Secrets

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National Treasure: Book of Secrets finds its way to theaters and with it comes everything you want in a sequel and less. But less is good. They didn’t try and change what worked so well in the first film but let this follow the same path with adventure, humor and history. The characters never miss a beat as they go from clue to clue to solve a new Gates family mystery. This is the first sequel Nicolas Cage has committed to in his career and as he put it, “If you are going to do a sequel it has to promise to be better than the original. I wanted to make sure we could go in a direction that would raise the stakes and hopefully be more interesting. Book of Secrets is like a movie unto itself. When you change the treasure you change the whole story. Plus you can take the whole family and there are worse things than to inspire, especially youngsters to look in their history books. So I thought, let’s go, let’s do it. ”

This installment finds our favorite treasure hunter Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) and his father Patrick (Jon Voight) needing to clear their family name as it has been linked to the Lincoln assassination. To do so they must unlock the puzzle of the 18 missing pages of John Wilkes Booth’s diary. Oh and they kidnap the President of the United States along the way. Hilarious sidekick Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and Gate’s love interest Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) return to the team along with a few new faces. One is Emily Appleton (Helen Mirren) as Ben’s mother. Mirren who is better known for her serious, regal roles holds her own through adventurous traps and pitfalls. Ed Harris shows up as the heavy and brings his normal brand of bad guy. And it is a perfect fit as well.

Like the original there is a lot of geography and history, both foreign and domestic. Jon Voight says, “After the first movie people went to the Liberty Bell and this one will encourage interest in the Library of Congress. It’s going to be fun.” From the bowels of Mt. Rushmore to the Oval Office, Jon Turteltaub (director), and the Wibberleys (writers) weave the right combination of excitement and education. It is fast paced and doesn’t stall out with unnecessary filler. The acting is fine tuned and you don’t have any of the usual sophomore jinx. Luckily Poole steps up his role and we see him come out of Gates shadow a bit. As in the original he steals most scenes with quotable one liners. If there is any weakness to be found it is in the role of Abigail. At times she seems to be there more as an after thought than for plot substance. But that in no way distracts from this amazing movie adventure.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets is rated PG for some violence and action. Bravo to producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Turteltaub for creating a film you can see with the whole family that has substance and backbone. The language is clean and the violence is more in the peril form. Gone are the smoking guns that plague any thing related to action. What is left is a perfect film for all ages that holds the secrets to every thing you want in a slick action adventure movie. I give it 5 out of 5 red Ferraris. If you are looking for the film to see this Holiday season, the compass points here. And that’s a secret worth finding.

Matt Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com)(12/21/07)

“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and co-hosts a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies, with his wife Cindy. For additional reviews, interview clips and great DVD giveaways, visit the website www.mungleshow.com”

Review copyright 2007 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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