Thursday, January 10, 2008

Encyclopaedia in a movie

After the unintentionally hilarious Wicker Man remake (a movie that actually grows in hilarity as it goes along), I'd sworn off anything with Nicolas Cage in it. That's why Ghost Rider came and went off my radar without me so much as glancing at it.

Strangely enough, I never bothered with National Treasure when it first came out, and naturally I couldn't give a rat's fart about its sequel now. But word had it that they're pretty good entertainment. I didn't believe it until David Bordwell blogged about it. And when Mr Bordwell talks, you listen.

So I headed to the cineplex and caught National Treasure 2: Book Of Secrets. Bordwell's right. The movie is good, clean fun, PG with no sex, nudity or graphic violence. Hell, nobody gets shot even! But make no mistake - this is a silly, preposterously and stupidly enjoyable film that, despite its non-tension on the brain, doesn't overtly insult your intelligence. It plays like a Saturday morning adventure cartoon, with an easy-to-understand, by-the-numbers plot and completely no dark spots where you just know no one's going to die horribly and everything will turn out fine in the end.

What is different about NT2 is that it's probably the first treasure/relic-hunting film that takes place not in some exotic, faraway land but right smack on homeground in America. Watching the movie is like reading the encyclopeadia - you even get an explanation about the origin of the phrase "My name is mud." So you have an intricate puzzle about a piece of American history, involving the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and hidden treasure. And Cage runs around with friends and family in tow, still looking like a constipated deer in the headlights, but less annoying this time as his demeanour fits perfectly the character of history geek Benjamin Gates.

But as much as I enjoyed the movie, unlike Mr Bordwell, I'm not about to run out and get the DVD of the first film, nor am I going to get the first movie. It's just plain throwaway fun, you know, the watch-and-forget kind.

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