National Treasure appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though without extreme flaws, Treasure presented a disappointingly average picture.
Sharpness was one of the main problems. The movie often lacked great detail, especially in wider shots. While the film never became terribly ill-defined, it wasn’t as crisp and concise as I’d expect. Still, most shots - particularly close-ups - looked acceptable. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I noticed mild edge enhancement. No source flaws marred the presentation.
Treasure goes against modern action flick conventions in its firmly natural palette. The colors looked perfectly adequate but not much better. The tones presented decent clarity and accuracy, but I never thought they appeared vivid or distinctive. Blacks were reasonably deep and firm, and most low-light shots seemed acceptably defined, though a few - like those inside the Charlotte - tended to be dense. Ultimately, there weren’t enough problems to knock my grade below a “B-“, but it was still somewhat lackluster.
While the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of National Treasure outdid the visuals, it wasn’t quite as thrilling as one might expect from an action movie. Largely that’s because Treasure didn’t include as many slam-bang set pieces as the usual flick, though it brought out some good sequences. When the track needed to expand during car chases, gun battles and the like, it used the full spectrum well. Elements were properly placed and moved about the setting in a convincing way. For the most part, though, matters stayed moderately anchored in the front. Music depicted good good stereo imaging and the entire presentation offered a good feeling of environment.
Audio quality usually fared well. A slight amount of edginess occasionally interfered with speech, but otherwise the lines were accurate and distinctive. Music sounded full-blooded and rich, as the score was rendered nicely. Effects showed good range and definition. They demonstrated solid low-end and were impressive across the board. Ultimately, this was a positive track.
How did the picture and audio of this 2007 Collector’s Edition of National Treasure compare to those of the original 2005 DVD? Both seemed virtually identical. If any differences occurred, I didn’t discern them; the two discs appeared to be clones.
The 2005 DVD came with a somewhat light load of extras, but the CE expands on these. Virtually everything on DVD One repeats from the old release, which means that DVD Two includes all the new stuff.
On DVD One, we begin with an 11-minute and 19-second featurette entitled National Treasure On Location. It offers the usual mix of movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We get notes from director John Turteltaub, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, second unit director George Marshall Ruge, production designer Norris Spencer, visual effects producer Kathy Chasen-Hay, visual effects compositors Phil Brennan and Claas Henke, senior visual effects supervisor Nathan McGuinness, director of photography Caleb Deschanel, and actors Justin Bartha, Nicolas Cage, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel, Sean Bean, and Diane Kruger. They talk about the project’s path to the screen, realism and locations, the actors and characters, Turteltaub’s approach to directing, stunts, sets, and visual effects.
”Location” is better than the average promotional featurette but not by a tremendous amount. To its credit, it doesn’t just feel like an extended trailer, and it goes over a lot of decent subjects. However, it rushes through them so quickly that we don’t learn much. The visual effects get the most attention, though even that area remains only briefly discussed. It’s a passable featurette.
Two Deleted Scenes appear next. These start with a 47-second introduction from Turteltaub in which he discusses the editing process. Then we get the clips themselves: “Thomas and the President” (1:47) and “Extended Shaft Sequence” (6:04). The former shows Ben’s ancestor as he briefly meets with President Jackson, while the latter’s focus is self-explanatory. Neither is terribly interesting, though the “President” scene is the more intriguing.
We can watch these bits with or without commentary from Turteltaub. He offers some production notes about the scenes and the reasons they cut the pieces. He provides a perfunctory discussion of the issues.
Next comes an Opening Scene Animatic. This two-minute and 49-second segment starts with a short intro from Turteltaub as he tells us what an animatic is, and then we see the animatic. It shows a longer computer-created take on the movie’s opening, and it’s pretty fun to see. It includes optional commentary from Turteltaub who discusses the animatic’s purpose and comparisons with the final product.
After this we find an Alternate Ending. In this one-minute and 49-second segment, we get another Turteltaub introduction to tell us about problems with the scene. We then see this final shot at the National Archives. I understand why it got the boot, but it’s a fun segment. More Turteltaub commentary lets us know more about the clip’s problems, though he repeats some of what he says in the intro.
Though this ends the “main” roster of extras, if you pay attention while you go through them, you’ll get a code to unlock “hidden bonus treasure”. (If you don’t want to bother with this code, you’ll find a “secret key” in the DVD’s booklet and you’ll be able to skip the “hunt”.)
For the first bonus feature, we get a featurette called Treasure Hunters Revealed. In this eight-minute and 35-second piece, we hear from Turteltaub, Mel Fisher Enterprises president/CEO Kim Fisher, author/treasure hunter WC Jameson, Mel Fisher Center president Taffi Fisher-Abt, Mel Fisher Enterprises co-founder Deo Fisher, Mel Fisher Enterprises executive vice-president Pat Clyne, Atocha Recovery Project operations manager Gary Randolph, Atocha Recovery Project captain Andy Matroci, West Coast Treasure Hunters president Betty Broughton, treasure hunter Bruce Gentner, and Atocha Recovery Project engineer Jeff Dickinson. We learn about real-life treasure hunters. They talk about their motivations and methods and we see hunts on land and on sea. We also get tips for aspiring treasure hunters. Despite a fairly glossy tone, “Revealed” offers a nice little look at the real-life exploits of these folks.
In Riley Poole’s Decode This!, we start with a three-minute and 19-second introduction that provides some history of various forms of written communication. Then we play a game that first requires us match letters to learn hieroglyphics, and then it tests our knowledge. Finish the quiz and we’ll see a 99-second piece about cryptography. Another quiz that uses “grills” follows. Lastly, we view a clip about secret messages that runs 125 seconds. A final challenge ensues in which you use colored glasses to find a message.
This gives you a code at the end. Enter this elsewhere in the bonus menu and you’ll unlock a potentially valuable extra: a trivia track. As usual, this runs text at the bottom of the screen as the movie plays. The track mostly covers historical information connected to the film and other related facts. We learn a little about the cast and crew as well as sets, locations and general production notes. The material pops up with acceptable frequency, though not as often as one might prefer. It remains a bit dry but it adds some decent insight into the subject matter.
A featurette called The Templar Knights runs for five minutes. It looks at the history of Masons and the Templar Knights. We mostly hear narration, but we also get comments from Knights Templar of California Grand Commander Dan McDaniel. Despite its brevity, it offers an interesting little overview with good insights like the reason why Friday the 13th is viewed as unlucky.
The Verizon Bonus area includes minor components. There’s a wacky “Verizon Trailer” that incorporates clips from the film, and we also learn about “National Treasure Mobile Phone Games”. Finally, this domain presents cheats for one of those games.
The DVD opens with some ads. We find previews for 101 Dalmatians, Blu-Ray discs, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Disney Movie Rewards, and Underdog. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with clips for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, and The Game Plan.
With that we head to DVD Two and its new materials. Five more Deleted Scenes last a total of seven minutes, 52 seconds. We find “Reviewing the Plan” (1:55), “Extended Scene: Ian Breaks Silence” (2:06), “Sadusky Takes Charge” (1:16), “An Unexpected Detour” (0:49), and “Lighting the Path” (1:45). Most seem pretty forgettable, though “Silence” has some good story points, and “Detour” is amusing. I would’ve liked to see the latter in the flick; it’s short and fun, so I can’t imagine it would’ve hurt the final product.
Note that the running times include introductions from Turteltaub, so the various scenes are each a good 30 seconds shorter than the lengths listed. Turteltaub also shows up for some optional commentary about the scenes. He adds some info about the scenes and why he cut them, though the intros tend to make the commentaries somewhat redundant.
Four featurettes follow. Ciphers, Codes and Codebreakers goes for 11 minutes, 52 seconds and includes information from historian of cryptology David Kahn, The Code Book author Simon Singh, and cryptanalyst Jim Gillogly. We learn about cryptology and its various forms throughout the years. This becomes a short but informative examination of various codes and their implementation.
Next comes the six-minute and 35-second Exploding Charlotte. It features Turteltaub, Bartha, Spencer, and period nautical dresser Courtney Anderson. The piece looks at the design, creation and destruction of the boat seen at the movie’s start. It provides a quick and enjoyable glimpse of that part of the production.
To Steal a National Treasure fills five minutes, 46 seconds with notes from Bruckheimer, Cage, Deschanel, Turteltaub, Kruger, Spencer, screenwriters Jim Kouf and Cormac and Marianne Wibberley, prop master Erik Nelson, and Archivist of the United States John Carlin. This one gives us a look at elements connected to the National Archives set, and it adds some more decent footage from the production as well as some insights related to the design of the heist.
Finally, On the Set of American History takes up six minutes, eight seconds, and offers comments from Turteltaub, Voight, Bruckheimer, Cage, Ruge, Kruger, Deschanel, Bartha, Spencer and screenwriters Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott. “Set” looks at some of the historical locations used in the film. Like the other featurettes, this one lacks great substance, but it functions as a satisfactory overview.
Jerry Bruckheimer may make fairly brainless action flicks, but they usually deliver what they promise and offer quality light entertainment. Despite the usual strong production values and a particularly distinctive plot, National Treasure presents an extremely ordinary movie. It’s one of those films that does little more than divert our attention mildly but it never threatens to truly engage us. The DVD presents decent picture, some moderately interesting extras, but a solid soundtrack. This is an acceptable release for a mediocre movie.
Since Treasure does little for me as a film, I find it tough to recommend it to new viewers, and I also can’t advise existing fans to grab this two-disc Collector’s Edition – at least not if they already own the original 2005 DVD. This one adds a few decent extras, but they’re not nearly enough to warrant a repurchase, especially since both releases offer identical picture and audio for the movie itself. If you dig Treasure and don’t own the old disc, grab this one, as it’s a little more satisfying, but it’s not a big step up in any way.
To rate this film visit the original review of NATIONAL TREASURE