National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image looked solid.
Sharpness was fine. Little softness materialized, so the movie usually seemed accurate and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I noticed mild edge enhancement. No source flaws marred the presentation.
In terms of palette, Secrets tended toward an amber feel with teal thrown in on occasion. The colors were fine and showed positive delineation. Blacks were reasonably deep, and shadows showed good clarity. All of this meant a “B+” transfer.
As for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Secrets, it was more than acceptable. Like the first movie, however, it featured a soundfield that seemed more limited than expected for a big action film.
Of course – also like its predecessor – this one didn’t boast a lot of huge action beats, so it didn’t get to show off too often. It worked fine during the various scenes that required a broader setting, such as the car chase through London.
Music showed nice stereo definition, and the surrounds bolstered the experience well. During those occasional action scenes, some unique material popped up in the back speakers and created a reasonably involving setting.
This was especially true during the climax; the “City of Gold” environment offered good creaks and other immersive material. Nothing about the soundscape dazzled, but it added some pizzazz when appropriate.
Audio quality lived up to modern standards. Speech remained distinctive and natural, as the lines were well-reproduced despite the need for quite a lot of looping.
Effects demonstrated good definition and liveliness, and they showed nice heft when appropriate. Music was a minor disappointment, though, as the score didn’t provide great range. That side of things seemed decent but could’ve been more vivid. This was good enough for a “B+”, though it’s an unenthusiastic “B+”.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio sounded warmer and richer, while visuals were tighter and more dynamic. The DVD suffered from lackluster picture quality, so the Blu-ray became a good step up.
The Blu-ray replicates the DVD’s extras, and we find an audio commentary from director Jon Turteltaub and actor Jon Voight. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific chat that looks at cast and performances, sets and locations, effects and stunts, editing, music, and sound design, story issues, and a few other production areas.
Turteltaub dominates the commentary. For its first two-thirds or so, Voight says little, but he becomes more active and informative during the final act, especially when he chats about acting with Helen Mirren.
Nonetheless, this remains Turteltaub’s commentary, and he makes it a pretty good one. There’s lots of happy talk but he provides enough interesting details about various production issues to make the chat worth a listen.
Next we get seven Deleted Scenes. These run a total of 20 minutes, 27 seconds. (That sum includes intros from Turteltaub.) We find “Pursuit at Rushmore: The Unseen Chapter” (8:03), “A Losing Battle” (2:11), “Death and Despair” (0:50), “Hacking the Palace” (1:40), “Pushed to the Edge” (3:16), “A Helping Hand” (2:59) and “Tight Squeeze” (0:35).
All these scenes prove interesting. Since “Pursuit” is the longest, it comes as no surprise that it’s also the most compelling; though I agree with Turteltaub’s decision to rework it and save a lot of time, the sequence itself is fun. The others also offer entertaining material, especially since we get more of Voight and Mirren.
(Note that “Battle” and “Despair” are exclusive to the Blu-ray. The other five appeared on the DVD.)
The Treasure Reel: Bloopers and Outtakes fills five minutes, three seconds. Should you expect anything other than the usual goofs and giggles? Nope. If you dig that stuff, go nuts.
Many featurettes follow. Secrets of a Sequel lasts six minutes, 51 seconds and provides notes from Turteltaub, Voight, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, executive producers Mike Stenson and Chad Oman, and actors Nicolas Cage and Diane Kruger. The show looks at some of the challenges connected to the creation of a sequel.
Well, at least that’s the theory. In reality, it acts more as a general promotional take on Secrets. A few minor tidbits emerge, but it’s usually too fluffy to be very useful.
For the nine-minute, 46-second The Book of Secrets: On Location, we hear from Turteltaub, Voight, Bruckheimer, Cage, Kruger, executive producer Barry Waldman, UK supervising location manager Bill Darby, healthy and safety officer Barry May-Leybourne, security agent Alex Garty, and actors Justin Bartha, and Helen Mirren. A few parts of the featurette provide good information, particularly when we learn about some complications in London.
Unfortunately, too much of “Location” just seems to want to impress us: “We’re in London! We’re in Paris!” It’s a mediocre reel.
Next comes Street Stunts: Creating the London Chase. In this nine-minute, 41-second clip, we receive comments from Turteltaub, Bruckheimer, Waldman, Kruger, Bartha, Cage, Darby, UK 2nd unit stunt coordinator Steve Dent, stunt drivers Andy Smart, Pete Miles and Rob Fitch, UK special effects coordinator Neil Corbould, UK 2nd unit location manager Duncan Flower, UK supervising art director Gary Freeman, first AD Geoffrey Hansen, assistant stunt coordinator Paul Herbert, and actor Ed Harris.
“Stunts” looks at all the work put into the complicated car chase sequence. It provides a good encapsulation of the various challenges. It even throws in some deleted shots, which makes it more fun.
Underground Action gives us six minutes, 47 seconds with Turteltaub, Bartha, Mirren, Voight, Bruckheimer, Harris, Kruger, Cage, supervising art director Drew Boughton, gimbal operator Jesse Noel, and stunt coordinator George Marshall Ruge.
We find a look at the underground cave set and the stunts done there. This becomes an informative glimpse of that subject, especially in the way it illustrates the use of the gimbal.
After that, we locate the 10-minute, 19-second Evolution of a Golden City. It features Turteltaub, Bruckheimer, Bartha, Mirren, Cage, Harris, Oman, Stenson, Boughton, Voight, Kruger, screenwriters Cormac and Marianne Wibberly, visual effects supervisor Mitchell S. Drain, senior visual effects supervisor Nathan McGuinness, and lead modeller Greg Stuhl.
“City” examines the design and building of the enormous set used in the movie’s climax as well as shooting in it. The program covers the various areas in a reasonably complete manner and entertains along the way.
When we move to Knights of the Golden Circle, we get two minutes, 40 seconds from the Wibberlys, Cage, The Mysterious and Secret Order of the Knights of the Golden Circle author Dr. Roy Roush, Rebel Gold author Warren Getler, and actor Christian Camargo.
The featurette offers a quick look at the history behind part of the film’s story. Too quick, really, so it feels more like a teaser than a substantial piece.
Cover Story: Crafting the Presidents’ Book lasts four minutes, 32 seconds. It includes Kruger, Cage, Bruckheimer, Bartha, Voight, Turteltaub, prop master Ritchie Kremer, calligrapher De Ann Singh, and actor Bruce Greenwood. We learn a little about the creation of the movie’s titular scrapbook.
I like the info about that side of things, especially since we find out how much work went into the tome. Unfortunately, too much of the short piece just talks about the concept of the book; I’d have liked a closer look at the prop itself.
Finally, Inside the Library of Congress runs eight minutes, 41 seconds and provides notes from Bruckheimer, Turteltaub, Cage, Bartha, Kruger, Library of Congress curator C. Ford Peatross, Library of Congress’ Dr. James H. Billington, collections access chief Steven J. Herman, Civil War specialist Dr. John Sellers, Preservation Directorate director Dianne van der Reyden, Curator of Fine Prints Katherine Blood, Manuscript Division chief Dr. James H. Hutson, Geography and Map Division chief Dr. John R. Hebert, Rare Books and Special Collections curator Daniel De Simone, and Prints and Photographs acting chief Helena Zinkham. It’s usually little more than an ad for the LOC, but it’s an interesting one as it takes us through the stacks.
New to the Blu-ray, Book of History: The Fact or Fiction of NT2 offers an “in-movie feature”. This splits into “Desk of the President”, “History Makers”, “Chronology” and “The Archives”. We get a “Fact or Fiction” quiz as well.
These pieces focus on the history that connects to the movie’s narrative, places and events. Most of these relate to pop-up notes, and the quiz throws questions our way as well. All of these add up to a fairly informative and engaging addition to the set.