The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

National Treasure Squee

How do I love National Treasure? Let me count the ways.
1. Sean Bean. With long fluffy windblown blonde hair. In a lot of the movie. Smiling a lot and cracking jokes. And having more chemistry with the male lead than the female lead, though it's nice to see Odysseus and Helen of Troy together again. (ETA: shrinetolust has squee and Sean pics here!)
2. Washington, Philadelphia and New York, the co-stars of this film. Say what you will about Jerry Bruckheimer, his films tend to take full advantage of their settings and this one is no exception.
3. The ship under the ice at the beginning of the movie. I am sure someone will tell me that its timbers would have been crushed like Shackleton's Endeavour and I believe you; I just loved the icy, dusty cannons and barrels of powder and the captain who died protecting the clue and the smuggler's hold.
4. Ian (Sean Bean's character) staying at the Watergate Hotel. Of course the villain would stay at the Watergate. DC was well showcased in this film, from the obelisk of the Washington Monument to the steps of the Lincoln with Abe listening to Ben (Nicholas Cage's character) plotting, but particularly all the shots in and around the National Archives. This is very familiar territory to me, and I love seeing it on the big screen...much less crowded than in real life! The string quartet with the guys in wigs at the gala (made me think of Aubrey and Maturin when they invited other people to play with them, am geek), the gift shop with its overpriced oversized replicas of the Declaration of Independence, the shots of how the vault works (they explain this in the lecture at the Archives but I've never seen a representation of it)...this all made me smile. And my younger son was narrating in my ear everything we learned about security the last time we were at the Archives, which was impressive.
5. In addition to DC, the shots of Philadelphia, where I lived for four very happy years while a college student at Penn. I have been in the Bourse dealing with lunchtime crowds on several occasions, though I see that either they moved the food court from the top floor to the first floor since I last ate there, or else the movie moved the food court for its own purposes. Loved the Independence Hall, they ran from the Bourse to Broad Street in like five minutes! I love movie time! It made me nostalgic in a good way. None of these cities had homeless people or pissed off commuters, and the only vendor in the whole film was fake, the lunch truck Ian's people used to get close to the Archives without suspicion.
6. Ben gets chills when he brings the Declaration of Independence back to the room in which it was signed. I have never had a crush on a Nicholas Cage character before, but I would have married him right then. His sense of what's a holy relic and how it should be treated is lovely (and the fact that he and Abigail both agree they'd sacrifice one another to save the Declaration, even though they've already proven that's not entirely true). Also, Abigail is a passionate US citizen who was not born here -- all right, that would be more interesting if she was from Central America or one of the places from which the current administration has tried to define people as less authentically American if they immigrate, but I liked that she had an accent.
7. And after the obligatory "it isn't whether or not you find the treasure, it's whether you find the True Meaning of the treasure" speech delivered by Jon-Voight-as-Sean-Connery near the end of the film, Ben becomes both Harrison-Ford-as-Indy and Tia-Carrere-as-Sydney and insists that any treasure found must go to a museum! I want to see the the scrolls of the Library of Alexandria more than I'd want the gold, dammit, and his priorities are so in the right place. Abigail tells him no one talks the way he does and he says but they do think the way he does...sigh. Dreamy.
8. Knights Templar in Manhattan! I am a total sucker for Treasure of the Knights Templar stories, whether they're seriously researched, credible ones or The Da Vinci Code and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. This one reminded me of both of the latter in all the best ways. Also I loved the New Amsterdam history that gets mentioned. I don't know whether it's real, the history of Broadway and Wall Streets -- I promised myself after I read Pete Hamill's Forever that I would read a really good factual history of New York but I still haven't done it. Anyone know one?
9. Have I mentioned that this movie is quite funny? Justin Bartha is quite hilarious picking on Cage and Kruger's nerd-dom even though he's a techie nerd himself, and Bean gets in a few zingers. (Bean and Cage also prove that aristocratic-looking and sounding white guys can still get in anywhere; if either had been played by someone who looked like Omar Sharif, he'd have been surrounded by FBI whether he'd committed a crime or not.) Like Pirates of the Caribbean, the movie is also full of fun visual detail -- I particularly liked how Ian's thugs were all working with dirty icky thug equipment while Ben had a nice sanitary room all set up to examine the Declaration...not that that ended up mattering, given the number of people who touched the very very fragile document with bare hands, not to mention lemon juice, but hey, it's a movie.
10. Loved the end, in Boston, at the Old North Church, and the fact that The Man Who Always Dies meets a better fate. (And the fact that Ian, a Brit, doesn't know how many lanterns were hung there and so accepts Jon Voight's explanation that they need to go to Boston in the first place.) We have been in many of the places in this film with my parents and children, with whom we saw the movie, and that one in particular the kids recognized at once because we were just there this summer. Though we were also at the Liberty Bell with them, and in New York City, and they recognize the Archives and Watergate easily. As family films go, this one was made for my family.

Look, this is not a great or profound movie. I could have listed absurd historical claims or obvious ripoffs from other films or things that just didn't make sense or ways the FBI and the government looked incompetent, instead of things that made me squee. If you go in like many of the critics expecting it to be stupid, you will probably see lots of stupidity. I went in expecting to enjoy it, and I enjoyed it more than I expected...more than I enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean the first time I saw that, and much more than Tomb Raider and other pseudo-Indiana Jones flicks. I recommend it heartily to anyone who's willing to accept it for what it is.</squee>

I did not have a perfect day -- my cable was down from this morning until a little while ago when we got back from the movie, and our washing machine broke mid-cycle, requiring much bailing and wringing and gnashing of teeth -- it appears to be functioning somewhat now but smells like something is burning, and I just want to get through this spin cycle and get the clothes dry enough to put in the dryer without overheating that. However, I spent a lovely few hours with the children and the parents with everyone smiling and laughing and applauding together, and that is what family movies do at their best, you know?

Okay, I have been officially converted to Gerard Butler love. I blame Kim Schultz. Expect much squeeing when I see Phantom of the Opera, too.

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