Here's to the men who did what was considered wrong, in order to do what they knew was right . . .
– Benjamin Franklin Gates
In the quote above, Nicolas Cage's character Benjamin Franklin Gates (easily the most contrived character name in movie history) was talking about the signers of the Declaration of Independence; but he could just have easily been talking about himself, director Jon Turteltaub and uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, for on many levels this movie is plainly wrong. Yet strangely it works -- up to a point.
The movie starts with what would normally be considered a couple of climactic set pieces, a ship explosion (one that even borrows set dressings from Pirates of the Caribbean as if Bruckheimer is hoping they will act as some sort of talisman and that the success of Pirates will rub off here.), and a high stakes intricate heist that wouldn't have been out of place in a Mission Impossible movie (a good one, that is).
The plot then quickly dissolves into a treasure hunt /chase movie in The Da Vinci Code mode, based on dubious history and speculative leaps in deductive reasoning. Yet somehow the result is an entertaining and engrossing action adventure movie with a touch of light romance thrown in. In short, it's an enjoyable cinematic romp.
Right up until the moment of the hunt's resolution and the moment of the great discovery when the plot jumps the shark, and in the space of a single scene moves from highly implausible, but fun to think about, to the realms of absolute ridiculous fantasy.
The main feature DVD is identical to the earlier 2004 DVD release and still remains one of the most fun DVDs I've seen. Along with the movie and a couple of easily accessible items such as a selection of deleted scenes, there is a multi layered "treasure hunt" that rewards the successful player with access to an ever increasing amount of features.
The games may be relatively easy, but they do need some degree of logical thinking and memory recall. Overall they are challenging enough to be fun, but not so hard that they get frustrating, or so easy that they insult the intelligence. Not an easy trick to pull off.
The new second DVD in this "special edition set" is frankly disappointing. It contains more deleted scenes and four featurettes, all of which are just one click away on a standard menu. No new "hunt" and no new hidden gems or extras. Of the new featurettes, three basically expand on items briefly covered on the original disc extras, the exception being an interesting mini-documentary on the art of code breaking.
The Movie Itself: 8 out of 10
The DVD Features: 7 out of 10