Treasure hunting films are usually a rare sight to find these days. Indiana Jones was released back in the eighties and it set a huge standard for that kind of film, people were lapping them up like they are the highest level of film and they were loved by audiences for decades.
To this day, the Indiana Jones films are known as classics of Hollywood lore. However, they did spawn a TON of other copy-cat films that made it to the masses and were also loved. The Mummy is the first one that comes to mind, however, there is a little-known gem also called National Treasure which was one of the funniest and most unique films in the genre, albeit it had a lot of problems too.
How to Stream or Download National Treasure
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The Movie Review
There aren’t many films that depict treasure hunting in the modern world, the new Uncharted is a great example of how hard it is to make a film of that sort. However, the story of Benjamin Franklin Gates, a cryptographer, and historian by day and a high-class treasure hunter by night is one to love.
Benjamin is out on the search for a mythical treasure that belonged to a secret ancestor of his from 1832. However, on his journey, he will face many different hurdles, such as en employer of his who has now turned into his main opposition. The story follows Benjamin, Abigail Chase and Riley Poole as they are on the hunt for the treasure hidden by the Freemasons!
Director Jon Turteltaub directed this fantastically ambitious film, not in scope or scale, but in the sheer amount of stuff that happens throughout the story. There is just so much going on within the context of this one story, and all of it is mashed together in a perfect blend of atmospheric and action adventure that you can’t help but enjoy it. The film is funny, paced well and features some amazing banter between the protagonists to keep you entertained and engaged within its story and world.
The things that do take away from the experience however are the presentation and a lot of the performances here. Nicholas Cage is of course, amazing as always, as well as some of the other main roles such as Justin Bartha, Sean Bean and Dian Kruger. However, a huge amount of this film has some horrible acting by side characters and supporting actors which really does disrupt the film’s core production value.
The set design and the cinematography is also EXTREMELY bland which sours a lot of the fun for most people including myself. The action is almost completely shot in a shaky cam format, where the camera is moving so much and so unstably that you can’t really tell what’s going on in the film itself! It’s a very jittery and disorienting experience during the fight scenes and the action sequences, though that was a trend that almost every film followed back in those times.
There’s also the issue of some horrible color grading in this film, everything feels either too blue or too green, without any real use of that color grading for any expressionistic undertones.
The acting from the main characters though is the real fun part of this film, Nicolas Cage portrays this jarring and weirdly chaotic protagonist that people would love to root for. His character is smart and bookish but also features some amazing street knowledge to get him around the city and life. Diane Kruger is as fantastic as she always is in every production she’s a part of. Justin Bartha was the real showstopper though, as his character was mostly the comic relief with some exceptions here and there, some great moments given to his character Riley that really shake up the scenes.
The Bottom Line
My verdict is that I love how engaging and smartly written this film is, how all of the puzzles pieces that they put down in the film come together at the end and make for a great mystery solving story. However, aside from that particular aspect, there isn’t much to love here besides the main actors’ performances. The camera work is horrible, and so is the color grading and the lighting. It could’ve been something really amazing, yet it’s put down a lot by the low level production.
- Smartly written, the pieces fit perfectly.
- Great performances by the main actors.
- The film is paced well.
- Extremely funny at times.
- Horrible production and set design choices.
- Bland cinematography and lighting design.
- Bad color grading leads to a murky-looking film.