National Treasure is just fool's gold

Nov. 22, 2004, midnight | By Christopher Consolino | 19 years, 6 months ago

Implausibility kills another action thriller

In the late 18th century, the Founding Fathers inherited and hid the largest treasure in the history of the world, leaving obscure clues as to its whereabouts. Now, Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicholas Cage), a direct descendent of the one man who was entrusted with the first clue, is on the verge of discovering the unimaginable wealth of earth's greatest empires somewhere within U.S. borders.

In National Treasure, the Founding Fathers were all members of a secret fraternity known as the Freemasons. That detail, which is not wholly true, represents nearly all of the factual accuracy in this movie. The treasure was compiled by ancient kings and conquerors before the original Masons re-discovered it in Egypt during the first crusade. It was then transported to colonial America, remaining completely unnoticed during the voyage.

Fast forward to 1974, when Gate's grandfather tells him the story of the treasure and gives the young treasure hunter the first clue. The story then jumps to modern day as Gates looks for the first clue inside a gunpowder-loaded colonial ship located in the middle of a polar ice field. After he discovers the first clue, Gates decodes a riddle left on the artifact, revealing that there is a treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Gates and his comical partner Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) then find themselves in Washington D.C., where they steal one of the most protected documents in the world with relative ease to protect it from the devious Ian Howe (Sean Bean).

From then on, National Treasure is absurdly unbelievable. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) teams up with Riley and Gates and uncovers the "invisible map" by spreading lemon juice over the back of the Declaration of Independence, then using a hair dryer to make the rest of the clue magically appear.

The animation and action scenes compensate for the shortcomings of the plot, however. One particularly well-made scene shows the Declaration of Independence rapidly dropping into a vault and being secured by guards. The realism of the computer animation does add to the suspense and tension of the movie.

Additionally, the music score is so amazing that it steals the show. The fast-paced and loud sounds of trumpets along with other equally thundering horns sounded much like the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, lending the film an emotional authenticity if nothing intellectual.

Regardless of aesthetic merits, the sheer historical fallacy of the movie prevents any viewer with any basic knowledge of U.S. history from accepting Gates' illogical arguments.

Although the story of a fellowship questing for a treasure of unimaginable proportions would make an excellent movie, as is, National Treasure is nothing more than a movie written before the writers did their homework.

National Treasure (100 minutes) is rated PG for action violence and some scary imagery and is now playing everywhere.

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Christopher Consolino. Christopher Consolino is a senior in Communication Arts Program. If Chris had free time, he would spend it practicing piano and taking pictures with his 15 year-old Minolta. He would also like to stress how much better wet process photography is than digital. Most of … More »

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