National Treasure (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

by Lisa Perkis, staff writer

National Treasure (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

Ratings (out of five):

  • Movie: 4
  • Audio: 3
  • Video: 3
  • Goodies: 2
  • Interface:3
  • Value: 3

DVD Technical Information

  • DVD release date: December 18, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Original release date: November 19, 2004
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Aspect ratio: Widescreen Edition - 2.35:1
  • Sound: Dolby digital 5.1
  • Running time: 131 minutes
  • Suggested retail price: $29.99

The Movie

Ever since he was a boy, Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) has been obsessed with finding the mysterious Knights Templar treasure, the greatest fortune known to man. Finally finding funding for his treasure hunting in the form of financier Ian Howe (Sean Bean), Gates is hot on the trail of the treasure—until Howe decides to ditch Gates and keep all the loot for himself. Gates must steal one of the nation's most well-guarded documents—the Declaration of Independence—to keep it from falling into Howe's hands, and to find the ultimate clue to finding the treasure. Along for the caper is trusty side kick Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and lovely German-accented document protector Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger). No one ever doubts that Gates will prevail and find the treasure; the fun of the movie is the journey and the beautiful on-location cinematography that showcases historical sites around Washington D.C., New York, and Philadelphia.

Our family enjoyed National Treasure when it was first released in theaters in 2004. Even though the plot lines had rather large, implausible holes (the New York subway running directly above undiscovered catacombs larger than the Indiana Jones attraction building, for one) we pretended not to notice. The movie has just enough thrills and peril to keep grown-ups interested, and kids over 8 mesmerized. The romance between Gates and Chase consists mostly of witty historical repartee, in keeping with its PG rating, and no blood is spilled. It's not often parents can find a film that will keep most everyone in the family, and National Treasure fits the bill perfectly. [Read Alex Stroup's review of the original theatrical release in 2004 here.]


The Goodies

The first National Treasure DVD was released in May 2005 and was consisted of one disc with several featurettes:

  • Alternate Ending – With optional director's audio commentary
  • Deleted Scenes – With optional director's audio commentary
  • Opening Scene Animatic – With optional director's audio commentary
  • National Treasure on Location
  • The Knights Templar
  • Treasure Hunters Revealed
  • Riley's Decode This! – Plus Three Puzzling Challenges

In the new Collector's Edition release, the first disc is unchanged. I was hoping for at least a director's commentary added to the first disc, but no such luck. The second disc must be hot stuff, right? I mean, to justify a "Collector's Edition" title and a whole extra disc? I'm sorry to say that the second disc is the most anemic passel of special features that ever graced a second disc. And that's saying something—I have the two-disc High School Musical Remix Edition sitting on my shelf. Listed on paper, the titles of the extras sound pretty impressive, but a closer look reveals some overlap with the original first disc:

  • National Treasure: Book of Secrets Sneak Peek – Those of you who are looking forward to the second movie will enjoy the sneak peek with clips of the film and a few short sound bites from the actors. Nothing revolutionary, but good for whetting the appetite for some Disney-style action.

  • Additional Deleted Scenes with introductions by director Jon Turteltaub – These are just a few extra scenes that had to be cut to make the running time shorter for the film. Most are unremarkable and are just extensions of a scene already in the movie. We don't learn more about the characters or additional plot twists by watching them.

  • Ciphers, Codes and Codebreakers – Talk about padding a disc. This is a short documentary about real codebreakers though out history and their importance to America and other countries, especially during war time. Interesting, but superfluous.

  • On the Set of American History – Short featurette about the various on-location filming sites for the film. This subject was covered in detail in the first disc with "National Treasure on Location."

  • To Steal a National Treasure – I found this to be an interesting featurette about the National Archives and how the whole building was renovated after September 11, 2001 and brought into the 21st Century as far as security for its precious national documents. Consultants who had prior experience breaching security were brought in to make the storyline of Gates breaking into the National Archives more authentic.

  • Exploding Charlotte – Again, this is a rehash of "National Treasure on Location" but with a few more details about how they staged the explosion of Charlotte, the ship that was stranded in the ice in the beginning of the film.

Audio, Visual, and Interface

The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds terrific. Visually, the film is in a widescreen edition of 2.35:1 and looks crisp and clear. The beautiful shots of the national monuments look almost as stunning on the small screen as it did in the theaters. The interface contains clips of the movie's score and shots of the various clues that appear in the film.

The Final Evaluation

If you have never purchased National Treasure to add to your home theater collection, this would be a nice disc to own, since it looks like there will not be another DVD release for this movie for at least several more years. Those of us who enjoy director's commentaries will just have to be content with what has been offered. However, if you already own the single disc release of the movie, don't even think about upgrading to this two disc set. There is barely enough material to fill one disc as it is. The distributors may as well have put a label on the front of the set declaring "We need to squeeze just a tad more mileage (i.e. moolah) out of this first installment before the next film comes out!" Don't be fooled; instead, pick up the juicy Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland set before it's sold out as a stocking stuffer for that Disney fan in your life. No filler to be seen anywhere.

Note: National Treasure: Book of Secrets, the sequel, opens nationwide in theaters on Friday, December 21.