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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Family-safe government cheese

What is it about the holiday season that entices American box office patrons to celebrate history? Well, nothing… unless, of course, priceless historical relics are a must-have for a certain someone’s Secret Santa list. It would appear then, that the release of “National Treasure” is several months overdue, assuming the typical tendency to experience revolutionary nostalgia still lands during the early days of July for the average American. Or nearly 30 years belated, for that matter, considering a present-day tribute to the forefathers and the Continental Congress would perfectly coincide with the Bicentennial. However, putting the past aside, or behind, or in whichever cliched direction it is supposed to be placed, a PG rating and a family-friendly production banner (Walt Disney) aptly signal fun for all ages, essential to spending mandatory quality time with Grandma and little bro during the afternoons of a dismal winter break. I suppose it’s the consideration of what really matters to the masses that keeps production companies profitable.
In “National Treasure,” Benjamin Franklin Gates (Cage) is an intelligent and intense historian in search of a rumored fortune formerly sought after by each of the elder Gates. Academics dismiss aspects of the plausibly ludicrous treasure hunt, including Gates’ assertion that an invisible map exists on the back of the Declaration of Independence. The complexity of the search and the never-ending line of clues it seems to produce lead Ben to enlist the help of super tech guru Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and ancient-document-conservationist-turned-leading-man-love-interest Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger).
When “National Treasure’s” worth is assessed, it falls tragically short of the Indiana Jones series it longs to emulate: It lacks the whip and the heart. There aren’t any booby traps. There’s no overwhelming menacing force lurking around corners or in Hindenburgs. Truth be told, the overall search in “National Treasure” isn’t as interesting either. Maybe it’s too new, but American artifacts just aren’t as cool as Egyptian temples. Someone might have thought I would care more about Ben Franklin and Independence Hall than the Holy Grail or the Arc of the Covenant, but they were wrong. And as far as fathers go, Sean Connery is cooler than Jon Voigt on any continent.
Now, although this film feels it is necessary to bombard viewers with countless examples of cheesy dialogue and lacks iconic proportions (unless a trademark Declaration carrying case is cool… I haven’t watched PBS or MTV in a while), it is certifiably watchable. The characters find and follow clues to clockwork – literally – leaving little time for over-analysis. There is a healthy mix of gunshots (one word) and car chases. In fact, the movie allows a viewer to do the single thing he wants to do when he soaks up two hundred-plus years of American history: not think.

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