Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Movie Reviews: NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS & THE KING OF KONG
NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS
In this sequel, treasure hunter Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) stumbles upon a worldwide conspiracy concerning Abraham Lincoln's assassination, after he finds the 18 pages that have been missing from John Wilkes Booth's diary.
Cast Nicolas Cage, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel, Ed Harris, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha (more)
Director(s) Jon Turteltaub
Writer(s) Cormac Wibberly, Marianne Wibberly
Status On DVD
Release Date Dec. 21, 2007
DVD Release Date May 20, 2008
Running Time 124 minutes
MPAA Rating PG - for some violence and action
For some reason it's taken me a little over a week to write a review on the 2nd installment of the National Treasure franchise. Why? I'm not really positive but for some reason I just couldn't think of anything to write about the movie. Jon Turteltaub's follow up to National Treasure is equally implausible and preposterous but it's still fun for some odd reason. Turteltaub's direction is about as non descript as anything in recent memory and even the big set pieces seem to fade off into memory very quickly after viewing the film. Nicholas Cage is fun and seems to be enjoying himself here, especially when he's allowed to go crazy over the top. Cage seems to annoy some people in recent years, me I've always been a fan of him and his over the top bravado. Jon Voight is more comfortable is his role here as the Gates patriarch and him and series new comer Helen Mirren have a fun chemistry that makes their interactions fun to watch. Harvey Keitel and Ed Harris are there for no particular reason other than to have name actors play very thin or inconsequential characters. It's a waste of talent and if they had been given more meat to their character it might have made for a more interesting film. The film's plot is about as muddled as tomato soup and while I'm sure it all connects together some way but I doubt there many that will keep their higher brain functions active during the majority of this films run time. Book of Secrets is very much like a piece of fast food, it's tasty to a certain extent, filled with lots of empty calories and probably bad for you in the long run but you keep eating anyway.
THE KING OF KONG
In 1982, Billy Mitchell became the Guinness World Record high-score holder for the video game Donkey Kong, with 874,300 points. In 2003, after months of practice, Steve Wiebe completely decimated Billy's record with an unimaginable 1,000,000 points. But Billy wasn't going to take the defeat sitting down, and the two men took on an ultimate championship to determine who would be the king of Kong, all of which was captured in this fun documentary.
Director(s) Seth Gordon
Release Date Aug. 17, 2007
DVD Release Date Jan. 29, 2008
Running Time 79 minutes
MPAA Rating PG-13 - a brief sexual reference
Slice of life documentaries, for me at least, should be the kind of experience that really opens up your mind to other aspect of life that you either weren't aware existed or never really cared about. The King of Kong succeeds in making something fairly foreign and definitely something I didn't know about or cared about and makes it a compelling story that really has you emotionally invested by the time it comes to an end. Seth Gordon's quirky documentary is filled with the kind of colorful and odd characters that seem reserved for movies. Gordon does the smart thing and doesn't add too many directorial flourishes, outside of some 80's music which is fitting, and just lets the story stand for itself. What makes the entire story so endearing is Steve Wiebe. Wiebe is the type of guy we all know, someone who's just had some hard breaks in his life and never quite been able to get that one achievement that he can hang his hat on. Wiebe makes the story instantly accessible regardless of whether you actually care about video games in any shape or form. Billy Mitchell is painted in the exact opposite light and pegged as the villain here, whether that's his actual persona or just a result of editing I'm not really sure but Mitchell is an interesting character to say the least. Initially, I had some reservations about this documentary but with its intriguing cast of characters, I've only touched on the main ones wait till you see Mr. Awesome, and brisk moving run time it hard to not enjoy this film.