National Treasure DVD Review
PictureDisney has presented a theatrically correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio, anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TV's picture that has an average bitrate of 4 - 6 Mbps. It is an almost immaculate picture and if it wasn't for some problems in the snow scenes, would gain full marks. First off, the detail level is excellent, everything is pin sharp even down to the rain and mist. Colours are bright, well defined and correct. Blues and blacks are very well seen, being deep and true. Being such a modern film there is no original print damage whatsoever. The only problem was, as stated above, the scenes immediately after the opening credit, in the snow; there is a nasty film of grain clearly visible throughout, even when it came to the studio sets. The opening shot is through a windscreen of a truck and the grain is such that you think it is dirt on that, I wish it were. However, once we are done here things vastly improve and there is no more visible throughout the rest of the run time. Digitally there was no artefacts present and only the tiniest amount of edge enhancement, again visible primarily during the snow scenes. It is such a shame, because the rest of the film is so good, that is why it stands out so much.
SoundWhatever the minor short fall in the picture, there is virtually nothing wrong with the audio. The disc is presented with two Dolby digital 5.1 tracks; one English, one French. The surround sound is quite phenomenal, one of the best Dolby tracks I've heard. The type of film allows for the full range of the speakers and there is hardly a moment when the rears are not working. The dialogue is crystal clear from the front and never drowned out by the score or action happening on screen. The 'rush rush' score is piped through all the speaks, really placing you in the middle of the action and explosions, bullets, helicopters and thunder all are extremely well realised, making full use of front to rear, left to right separation. One particular helicopter (and there are a few) has an exceptional entrance, using each speaker to really fly around the room and though this is not a particularly unique effect is still sounded great. Bass levels were fair, considering Dolby limitations, thunder and explosions hailed some lovely rumbles from the LFE, enough to shake my floor, though I felt the lower mid to upper bass range was slightly lacking; the huge explosion in the snow had some lovely 'tinkle' and 'thump' but, I felt, missed the 'whoosh'. That said, there is plenty to enjoy and certainly enough to keep the neighbours awake should you so desire. The French track played exactly like the English save the dubbing.
ExtrasThere are a number of light extras on the disc, but in order to access then all, you have to decode the second level; in order to do this you have to watch all of the 'first tier' extras to gain the code; or you can just put in 405, which is the 'master code' and opens all the extras on one page.
National Treasure on location is a short (11 min) featurette as seen on MTV or the like, with short interviews with cast and crew on the various real life locations that were used within the film. Not hugely informative, but worth a watch.
There are two deleted scenes, an animatic of the opening credit sequence and an alternate ending, all with an introduction by the director and with optional commentary. Nothing particularly dramatic here.
The second level has The Knights Templar a 'historical featurette' about the Templar's and their supposed treasure. Extremely light on actual fact, and serves only to re-enforce the myth that these warrior monks had treasure, and were not the pilgrim protectors they actually were.
Treasure Hunters revealed is a light hearted featurette on actual treasure hunters, mostly on video, perhaps worth watching once.
Riley's decode this is a hugely annoying simplistic 'game' that one is required to play in order to access the 'master code'; thankfully I've already done this so you don't have too. The only good thing that doing this opens up a hitherto hidden trivia track which infrequently displays, in a huge yellow font at the bottom of the screen such gems as the amount of petrol used in some explosions and the closing off of certain roads for night shots.
Finally, rounding out this disc we have some trailers for the film and phone games.
VerdictNational Treasure is pure entertainment that needs little effort from the audience to have a good time, perfect as a slice of Saturday night TV. As a DVD, Disney has provided excellent transfer with terrific sound that is only slightly marred by the apparent lightness of the extras. However, due to its nature, I've no doubt it will end up in the bargain buckets soon, and then it will be real value.
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