The National Treasure series has arguably become the new generation’s Indiana Jones. Sure, Nicolas Cage’s character focuses more on textbook history than archaeological discovery, but Indy’s spirit of adventure and exploration are alive and kicking. “Kicking” also happens to be the perfect word for the Blu-ray version of National Treasure 2, which includes D-BOX Motion Code support from start to finish. Although National Treasure 2 includes only a handful of overtly “D-BOXed” scenes, the overall focus on subtle motions and audio-triggered thumps provides a better sense of immersion than most other D-BOX-equipped films. None of the movements in National Treasure 2 seems forced, resulting in an odd feeling that you’re actually “in” the movie, not “watching a movie with D-BOX support.”
This subtlety begins with the very first frame, as small thumps tickle your back to coincide with the explosion of fireworks in the distance. When John Wilkes Booth shoots Abraham Lincoln, the gunshot triggers another thump in the back, and when he swings down to the stage, the D-BOX Motion Code swoops along with the camera. Then there’s a minor thump when Booth’s horse gallops into the distance, and another bang when Thomas Gates is shot. None of these motions is over the top, but because they’re so perfectly synched to the on-screen action and have a “realistic” intensity, they do a fantastic job portraying a sense of place.
After this introduction, the Motion Code track remains silent for about 20 minutes, a virtually unheard-of span in most D-BOX films. However, this gap reinforces the D-BOX engineers’ goals for the film: power through practicality. For the next 30 to 45 minutes, we feel the D-BOX platform rock when the helicopter swirls around the miniature Statue of Liberty. We feel the thump of impact when the burglars smash Ben’s dad on the head. We feel a sliding motion when Ben careens down the Buckingham Palace banister. And we feel a slight (and quite realistic) rattle while Ben rides the service elevator to the Queen’s chamber. Truly, D-BOX in Nation Treasure 2 is used only when it makes sense in the context of the film, which really isn’t all that often. But when it’s used, it’s used very well.
Only two scenes stand out as the D-BOX engineers’ chances to “run wild” with Motion Code. The first is the car-chase scene through London, which has a lot of odd sideways motion and isn’t quite as refined as the similar scene in The 6th Day (LINK HERE). However, the overall motions in this scene are quite diverse, from bumping along the cobblestone streets to shaking when the car hits the brakes. And as much as I’m embarrassed to verify this, the impacts in this scene are spot-on and really do feel like the impact of a car wreck.
The second scene comes when Ben finds the City of Gold and needs to balance on a big platform on the top of a narrow pillar. When we first watched National Treasure 2, we could only imagine what Nicolas Cage and his co-stars must have gone through to keep the big platform balanced. Now, having watched the film with its D-BOX code activated, we no longer have to imagine. The rocking in this scene is almost constant, and when the platform crumbles and falls into the bottomless pit, the rumble of falling rock complements the rocking platform perfectly. This scene really feels designed for D-BOX, and it’s refreshing to see that the engineers nailed it.
After this scene, though, the D-BOX Motion Code returns to its National Treasure 2 roots: small motions as the audio dictates. In this respect, the D-BOX code comes full circle; subtle in the beginning, intense as the movie climaxes, and subtle again as the movie calms down. Whether this bell-curve pattern was intentional isn’t clear, but the results of it definitely are: National Treasure 2 with D-BOX immerses you in the movie far better than without it.
Buy National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets on Blu-ray at Amazon.
- Score: 7.9
- D-BOX Motion Code doesn’t seem to be used often in this film, but when it is, it’s used very well.
— Jonas Allen