National Treasure (2004)

What is that old saying, even a stopped clock is right twice a day?  Well, you can apply the same logic to Nicolas Cage movies.  The sheer volume of dross that the man puts out, you can easily relegate him to B movies, but every so often a vehicle comes along that makes you think, wow that wasn’t half bad.  National Treasure, from Disney, is one such vehicle.

Bringing together all the conspiracy theories regarding the history of the USA into one movie, weaved around a Raiders Of the Lost Ark story you have a highly paced family thriller, with plenty of action and humor.

The plot involves Ben Gates (Cage) and his side kick Riley (Justin Bartha), following a series of clues to uncover the Templar Treasure.   This was all being bank rolled by Ian Howe (Sean Bean), who becomes a little impatient and then basically becomes the bad guy of the story.   Not to give away a huge plot line, but this is one of the few movies where Sean Bean actually survives, even though he is the villain.

image

One of the big plot moves is when they decide to steal the Declaration of Independence.   What is highly amusing about this, is just how many times the characters say the full phrase

Declaration of Independence as if it was a product placement.   You would think in a real life situation, they would simply refer to it ‘as that document’.

Diane Kruger is along for the ride as the loyal government employee turned co-conspirator that aids Gates and Riley in their mission.   Other big named supporting characters include Gate’s father,

Jon Voight, and Harvey Keitel as the FBI agent who is hunting him down.

What makes this movie so watchable is the very catchy soundtrack that accompanies each scene.   Very orchestral and dare I say John Williams feel, though not quite to his standard.

Disney definitely milked this series for a few more sequels, but none managed to get anywhere near the slickness of this first outing.  This movie definitely helped Nicholas Cage with his credibility, as the lead role could have easily been played by another without too much effort.

A good clean family movie that can be enjoyed without worrying about upsetting the morality or offending any of their young minds.   Just remind them, that not all Cage movies are this good – don’t fill their wee heads with foolish notions.

image

Viewing Date
Sunday, 20th September 2015

Rating
7/10

IMDB YouTubeTrailer

The Ladykillers (2004)

After last nights viewing escapade, one needed something a little lighter, something that didn’t require too much thinking and would lift the spirits with a chortle or two.   Interestingly this particular movie also stars

J.K. Simmons doing what he does best; off beat personality.   So with that, the 2004 remake, The Ladykillers, was chosen.

The setup of this movie is a good old fashioned heist, involving 5 criminals of varying skill sets, camped out in an old ladies basement as they tunnel their way through to the local casino to rid them of $1.6M.   Naturally, the old lady suspects and therefore must be dealt with for fear of jeopardizing the whole plan.

Tom Hanks plays the Professor, the ring leader who assembles the group and for the large part does all the talking and planning.  He talks in a very verbose, yet succinct, tone, painting a whole landscape with each sentence.  I loved this articulation and found it most amusing. 

Professor: Yes, I must confess. I often find myself more at home in these ancient volumes than I do in the hustle-bustle of the modern world. To me, paradoxically, the literature of the so-called “dead tongues” holds more currency than this morning’s newspaper. In these books, in these volumes, there is the accumulated wisdom of mankind, which succors me when the day is hard and the night lonely and long.

Irma P. Hall plays the old, church going, god fearing black lady who is just a riot to watch as she innocently bumps into the truth.   She is a widow who sits under her late husbands portrait hanging above the fireplace telling him all about the events of the day.   Keep an eye out for this picture, as it changes expressions throughout depending on time (a technique seen in

Young Frankenstein).

J.K. Simmons as noted earlier, plays a wonderfully comedic bomb expert who is suffers Irritable Bowl Syndrome with impeccable timing.   Simmons reminds me of the great Stephen Tobolowsky who can also create a unique off-the-wall character each and every time without ever overlapping.

We also have one of the younger Wayans brothers, Marlon Wayans doing an excellent job of providing, what has to be said, the majority of the cursing.  But done in a wonderful way.   Keep an eye out for a particular funny scene in a Waffle Hut when he is proclaiming “you brought your bitch to the waffle hut?”.

The Ladykillers is from the director/writer brother duo the Coen’s.  They do a fantastic job of capturing the humour and wit from the original 1955 Alec Guinness version.  I recall seeing that one Sunday afternoon, when the BBC would screen the black’n’white movies when I was but a young lad.

Special attention should be made to the soundtrack of this movie.  Like the earlier Coen outing, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, this movie is also blessed with a rich, toe-tapping soundtrack that is weaved throughout the story to bring each situation to life.  Very gospel in nature, with a dash of ‘hippity hop’ music thrown in.

This is too beautiful a movie to give away any spoilers, but this movie has a definitely repeat-ability to it and you will find yourself coming back to it as they years roll by.

Viewing Date
Sunday, 6th September 2015

Rating
8/10

IMDB YouTubeTrailer