National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets Blu-ray Review
The disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.40:1 1080p transfer that is AVC MPEG-4 encoded. Disney has once again given an exemplary example of how to produce an HD transfer.
First up the detail level is astonishing, from right up close to far off distance there is never anything lost; take a look at the book store at the beginning, the perfect sharpness of the book titles and the shelving, or the overviews of Paris or London, you could be forgiven for thinking these were postcard pictures such is their detail. Close up is no slough either, skin defects, or grubby marks on the Booth Diary's, the inside of Gates' alarm system, all are pristine in clarity.
Moving on to the colours which are bold, striking and almost luminous in places; all the primaries are vivid and lush; witness the reds, blues and whites of the American flag, check out the tress and the sky in Paris, glorious bright and solid colours. One thing that did irk me a little was the flesh tones; whilst consistent throughout the film they were a tad brown for my liking.
Brightness is set to give incredible black levels, deep with plenty of frame depth and loads of shadow detail to boot. These are shown off well when once the action goes underground, the various tunnels and particularly the Golden city which is cavernous in its depth. Contrast is set to give good strong whites that are not boosted and don't loose any detail. This is shown up particularly well with the trees against the skyline which are pin sharp in their clarity.
Digitally there are no compression problems, neither is there any edge enhancement, plus the source print is absolutely pristine and free form any damage or grain. The whole picture has had the digital colouring (such as the last two Pirates films) that give it a slick sheen, much as most Bruckheimer films do, though it does tend to unnaturally skew the hues on occasion, but that is not to take anything away from this transfer which is absolutely first class.
The disc has seven sound tracks to choose from; English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround, English, French, Spanish, Thai and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 and finally an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Audio Description; reviewed here is the English TrueHD one. Right from the off your speaker are assaulted with a surround mix that places you in the centre of the action from beginning to end. Effects fly around the room with pin point accuracy, witness the London car chase with ambient traffic, squealing tires, gun shots, crashes, all sweeping over the stage.
Dialogue is natural sounding but anchored to the frontal array. Bass is well managed grounding everything very well, LF effects are numerous and have a decent enough thump and rumble when called upon, not as low as one would expect with a reference track and this is really the only negative.
Trevor Rabin reprises his score from the first film and it is given plenty of bombast to the speakers with full tonal range and plenty of separation. In all this is an excellent track with the actions stakes placed very high, needs a little more depth to the bass to be considered reference though.
- Audio Commentary with Jon Turteltaub and Jon Voight
A bit of a slog to get through at times, Turteltaub takes the lead for a fair bit of the time droning on and on about set ups etc. but when Voight does get a look in the pair make a reasonable team and the chat lightens, lots on info and tidbits with barely a pause for breath, but I'd suggest several listens rather than one sitting.
- Deleted scenes with Introduction from Jon Turteltaub 0.18.14
There are seven deleted scenes that can be played individually or all together, each one getting a short introduction explaining why said scene was removed. All are finished with musical score too, though most add little to the proceedings excepting a bit more exposition or some early humour, none are missed.
- Treasure Reel - outtakes and bloopers 0.05.03
A selection of gaffs and fluffs from the assembled cast.
- Secrets of a Sequel featurette 0.06.51
An introduction to the main cast and crew and the excitement felt at this new sequel product, reasonably slick with a fair bit of padding with the interviews being short and to the point; describes the film as a succession in a franchise rather then part of a trilogy (Pirates anyone?) and how the sequel was being planned during the making of the first.
- Book of Secrests: On Location featurette 0.09.46
Takes a look at the 'global locations' that this film encompasses including London and Paris and how that helped to open up the grand nature of the film.
- Street Stunts: Creating the London Chase featurette 0.09.41
A comprehensive look at the chase scene set in and around London streets, the problems and solutions used when filming over the nine week period all at weekends.
- Inside the Library of Congress featurette 0.08.41
A thoroughly absorbing feature about a hugely historic place, includes a tour through many parts of the library. I found this a fascinating feature made better by the serious tone given throughout.
- Underground action featurette 0.06.47
Details the various traps and pivoting floor that make up one of the bigger stunts of the film.
- Cover Story: crafting the Presedents' Book featurette 0.04.32
Looks as design concepts for the pivotal prop of the flim.
- Evolution of a Golden City featurette 0.10.19
Takes a close look at the design and construction of this large prop, the practical build and the CG build.
- Knights of the Golden Circle featurette 0.02.4
A rather too short feature on the real KGC, their agenda, finance and goals; begs the question how would the USA be if these disreputable men had their way.
- Book of History: The fact and fiction
This is a BD-Java run 'game' that runs like an in movie experience. The board is set outside the film in the 'black bars' allowing you to fully see the picture (excepting the every corners) and during the playback will ask you true or false questions that are tallied but also allows you to pick and choose different trivia, both text and video, about moments in the film. Works really well and has some interesting facts, even the questions are fact related. High scores are rewarded with additional featurettes, I as yet haven't earned enough to watch them time being rather pressing.
- Deleted scenes
There are two additional scenes (described above) that are exclusive to the Blu-ray.
- Easter Eggs
To view these Easter eggs follow the directions below:
1) From Deleted scenes -> Pursuit at Mount Rushmore -> right -> down to highlight a golden statue; plays a short interview with Turteltaub and Cage talking about there school days together
2) From Book of Secrets: On Location -> right -> up to highlight a carving; plays a blue screen shot of the Whitehouse
3) From Street Stunts: Creating the London Chase -> press right twice to highlight a statues eyes; explains about the 'top rig' used to drive cars from the roof allowing the actors free reign whilst filming
4) From Evolution of a Golden -> right to highlight a carving; explains the 'idle roll' stunt and the problems encountered
So a pretty comprehensive list of material. The featurettes are obviously culled from the same all encompassing making of documentary, it's a shame then that there is no 'play all' function since all could be watch as such. There is not a huge amount of film padding and whilst there is a little back slapping it's still well put together and with a decent enough flow. Best thing, all the extras are in 1080i HD and have English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound plus all the subtitle options too. The Blu-exclusive material is also worth a look in, even if you don't play the 'game' the trivia information is numerous enough to engage.
If you enjoyed National Treasure, then you will also enjoy National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, it covers much of the same ground with much of the same production values and with all of the same enthusiasm and lack of credibility. It is an enjoyable enough romp, though, free from any real thinking and harks back to a kids adventure yarn, exactly what the makers were going for, so on that level is succeeds very well. It's still rubbish of course, but harmless enough to be enjoyed on that level.
As a Blu-ray package, Disney have once again put together an outstanding package; with reference picture, excellent sound and a whole bunch of watchable extras including some decent exclusive material makes this disc highly worth while. If other distribution companies made such efforts with all their Blu-ray releases I'm sure its market share would increase dramatically.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £23.99
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- Audio Commentary with Jon Turteltaub and Jon Voight