National Treasure is a beloved adventure franchise that has long deserved a much-needed third entry. Nicolas Cage led the first two National Treasure films to great success, galavanting around the world trying to locate treasure troves based on history-based clues. The movies are an essential piece of many fans' more youthful years, and such childlike wonderment was ignited again when it was announced Disney+ ordered up a TV series based on the films, even if Cage wasn't attached to star. Now, the reviews are in for the much anticipated series, titled National Treasure: Edge of History, and there are differing thoughts floating around out there.
The spinoff series premiered on Disney+ on Wednesday, December 14th, with an all-star cast including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Justin Bartha, Harvey Keitel, with a few new faces as well: Zuri Reed, Lyndon Smith, and Lisette Olivera. The show follows Jess as she embarks on a Pan-American treasure hunt while searching for information about her own family’s history. The first two episodes are currently available, with subsequent episodes landing on Disney+ weekly.
While part of the franchise's praise has come from its tone, many critics found there was something lost in the new series where tone is concerned. Angie Han from The Hollywood Reporter said that while there was a silliness present, the fun was lacking, especially without Cage's manic energy guiding it all. She explained:
Brian Tallerico from RobertEbert.com found that the show didn’t invoke the same levels of excitement as the original films, and seemed to underestimate the intelligence of its teen-geared audience.
Leila Jordan for Paste Magazine also had problems with the way many of the “cringe-worthy” teenagers were written in Edge of History. However, arguably the bigger issue she had was with the lack of actual mystery-solving that takes place in the episodic series.
All of that said, Edge of History did score some praise as well. Many critics seemed to enjoy the new direction the show was going, and the steps being taken to reattain the magic so many felt from the original films, even if there's work to do first. David Cote at the A.V. Club liked Olivera as the spunky lead of the series, and thought she did a lot for its charm.
The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan found the show a bit mindless, if still fun, in how it brings back the vibe of mid-budget films from the '90s, and feels that it's sure to entertain audiences.
While the sequel may not rise to the heights as the much-loved Nicolas Cage-led National Treasure films, there still seems to be a lot to like about National Treasure: Edge of History. Early reviews for episode series tend to be more mixed, depending on how many episodes are available for screening, so they may not speak to the entirety of a project. But it sounds like many may see and embrace the heart in the new Disney+ series, with the understanding that it's more brain-on-pause entertainment than anything super deep.
For fans wanting to check out the series, you can stream the first two episodes of National Treasure: Edge of History with a Disney+ subscription, with many more episodes to come. You can also watch the original films, National Treasure and National Treasure: Book of Secrets also streaming on the platform. For more information on other shows coming to streaming in the near future, make sure to check out our 2023 TV premiere schedule.
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