Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

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'National Treasure' is a jewel

Published November 22, 2004

[Buena Vista Pictures]
Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) steals the Declaration of Independence in order to uncover the final clues leading to the treasure his family has chased for generations in "National Treasure."

Billy Norris
Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

MOVIE: National Treasure

RATING: PG, for action violence and some scary images.

SUMMARY: The Gates family history includes a legend of an immeasurably valuable hidden treasure. Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) is determined to locate the treasure, despite his ancestors' countless failures. When a clue leads him to a treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence, he is forced to take drastic measures to get his hands on the famous document. He, along with his cohorts Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger), must steal the document to protect it. They are out to thwart the attempts of his rival, Ian (Sean Bean), who would think nothing of destroying the document to retrieve the information that will lead him to the treasure first.

MY VIEW: At the onset, this film appears to be another mediocre adventure, with the predictable plot twists and not-so-suspenseful suspense sequences. But as the plot unfolds, it quickly sheds its movie cliches. The plot is meaty, and it artfully combines historical fact with fiction. The accuracy of the nonfiction elements of American history is so cleverly used that the story takes on the feel of an almost believable legend. Cage is a perfect fit as the supersharp, logical character - traits that he also exuded in the shrewdly done Matchstick Men.

The supporting actors fit, too, especially Jon Voight's contribution as Gates' skeptical father, which added the perfect amount of wit. In the midst of creating an intricate story, the film's creators seemed to lose track of time. At two hours, five minutes, you have to be ready to dig in for the long haul. That aside, Disney's latest is absolutely worth the price of admission.

RECOMMENDATIONS: A fun flick to catch on a Friday night, this film is most appropriate for ages 12 and up.


- Billy Norris, 17, is in the 11th grade at Seminole High School, and is a former member of the Times' X-Team.

[Last modified November 19, 2004, 12:10:12]

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