National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007)


Benjamin Gates must follow a clue left in John Wilkes Booth’s diary to prove his ancestor’s innocence in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. (IMDb)
The basis for another exciting clue-following adventure feels forced this time around but the one here is still delightfully rambunctious (helped by another memorable Cage turn: “I’m going to kidnap the president of the United States”). Unfortunately, the repetitive bad guy has even shakier motives, and the sequel-version of sidekick Riley is no longer funny but whiny and annoying. Attempted additions to the first film’s formula (see the marital woes of father and son) are less than engaging.
6.5/10 (Alright)

National Treasure (2004)


A historian races to find the legendary Templar Treasure before a team of mercenaries. (IMDb)
Far-fetched but fun and fast-paced treasure-hunt fodder led by the charismatic Cage. The long trail of clues-adventure (appreciably self-aware; see Patrick’s skepticism) starts with an exciting heist sequence and is continually heightened by its fugitive framework and the rival chasers (admittedly cliche), while comic-relief Riley tempers Ben’s historical exposition and even cheekily calls out the “got the girl” trope in an epilogue that regrettably compromises its “it doesn’t matter” message.
7/10 (Good)

The Hangover (2009)


Three buddies wake up from a bachelor party in Las Vegas, with no memory of the previous night and the bachelor missing. They make their way around the city in order to find their friend before his wedding. (IMDb)
The “what happened last night?” premise here provides a uniquely engaging and mystery-tinged plot–along with plenty of hilarious “WTF” moments (naked guy in the trunk, tiger in the bathroom, baby in the closet)–for what is in its slowest moments just a seen-before raunchy comedy with hit-or-miss humour. When things are at their most chaotic is when the film is at its best, so the ending is a bit of a come-down (especially the “here’s what happened” credit pics) but it’s still a fun ride.
7/10 (Good)