Another really cool movie! Not a tremendous amount wrong with it, but, hey, if I didn't find something bad, I'm not doing my job, eh? The idea?
Ben Gates comes from a family of treasure hunters. His grandfather believed that the forefathers buried a treasure somewhere in the country and have placed clues everywhere, but unfortunately the clues are highly cryptic and scattered all over the place. Now Ben thinks he has found it, but it only leads him to another clue which is on the back of the Declaration of Independence. One of his associates, Ian, wants to steal the Declaration so that they could get the clue, but Ben refuses to do it so he tries to kill Ben. But Ben evades him and tries to warn the authorities about Ian's plans, but they don't believe him. So Ben takes it upon himself to steal it in order to protect it; got that? And he does, but Abigail Chase the curator of the National Archives, where it is kept, discovers what he has done and tries to stop him, but gets caught in the crossfire between Ben and Ian, so Ben takes her with him. While she doesn't believe him, he is determined to prove he is right about the treasure. But it won't be easy cause Ian's always a step behind him and he is being hunted by the FBI. Sounds plausible...
- During the testing phase of Ben's plan to steal the Declaration, Riley is in his van and uses a green laser to heat a thermometer to over 100oF. This is just silly. Green lasers are simply light. I use one in class daily as a pointer during presentations. If this were true, I'd be burning the tops of my students heads off everyday... UPDATE 03/26/2010: I was contacted by someone recently claiming to be able to do this... He/she could raise the temp of a thermometer by a couple degrees with a green laser. I suspect this person was using a high wattage several hundred $$$ model obtainable online at a few places. A typical green laser pointer will cause no measurable heat increase. Period. Tried it just in case. Nope. Never. Couldn't do it. It is possible that Riley, in his infinite tech wisdom, jazzed one up, though...
- Riley taps into the Archive video systems by using a simple aligator-like clamp on the outside of the coax cables. Wrong. The video signals are carried by a wire INSIDE all that coax cladding.
- Regarding the time of the shadow hitting the wall at 2:22 PM, you cannot reference today's time in the computation even if you knew the precise date the shadow was originally charted. To get an accurate location from the cast shadow, it would be necessary to align the shadow at 142 minutes (2 hrs., 22 minutes) past High Noon on that given day. That's because most populated locales in the Colonial era - but not all - set clocks for noon based on Sun Time, or the time the sun was directly overhead (high noon). If Sun Time was being observed, noon in New York was five minutes ahead of Philadelphia noon. Only until the nation's railroads adopted Standard Time and established the nation's four time zones at exactly 12 noon on Sunday, November 18, 1883 did we have regulated time that coincides with the timekeeping system we employ today. This also ignores the season the clue was writen for; was is Spring? Autumn? Chili powder?
- When the security guard is tazed when Ian and his men are breaking into the National Archives, the guard is rendered unconscious. Tasers have an output of 50,000 volts and have the ability to take a man to his knees. The tasers have an output time of 5 seconds. Once this is over, the security guard would have been conscious, but sore.
- More of an editing thing, but... When Riley goes down into the National Archives Metro stop to tap the security system, the train passing behind him is clearly a New York subway train and not a DC Metro train.
- Ben Gates says that the Declaration was signed by 55 men. In actuality, it was signed by 56, including John Hancock. This error is not made just by Gates -the clue he finds by using the pipe stem as a stamp states "55 in iron pen" - meaning this is a factual mistake in the plot, not just an error made by one character.
- In the movie, Ben Gates, Abigail Chase, and Riley Poole commandeers Patrick Gates' Cadillac DeVille and were able to successfully escape capture by the authorities. In reality, the model DeVille they borrowed would have had OnStar as standard equipment. This means that the authorities would have been able to immediately locate the Cadillac via satellite through the OnStar service. The police would have likely used the information obtained through OnStar satellite tracking to set up a strategic interception of the car while it was on the move, ruining any chance of escape for the three.
- When the characters go underground, Ben pulls a torch off of the wall and lights it, and it burns instantly and brightly. Also when the heroes find the treasure room, a 'river of fire is lit'. There is no substance the 18th century colonials would have had access to which could have both produced instant flames of that kind *and* had it's potency last for 200+ years.
- Gotta have a sharp eye... When Ben at the computer entering in Abigail's password to get into the preservation room, He accidentally hits the "Caps Lock" button on the keyboard instead of the "A" button, but it still works. I do that all the time and mess up valuable minutes of typing...
- Geographical Problem: Just because I spent 28 years in South Jersey... When Ben first visits his father at his home, it is subtitled Philadelphia, PA. However, when Ben asks his father for the letters, his father says quote, "I don't have them son. I donated them to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia." Now if they were already in Philly, why would he say "Philadelphia?" The very next scene, they show the Ben Franklin Bridge going into Philadelphia. The timing on the subtitle "Philadelphia, PA" came too soon. Also, While they're driving over the bridge into the city of Philadelphia, they had been up and driving all night, yet they're clearly driving into the sun while on the bridge. That bridge crosses the Delaware River from NJ, thus, they're driving west into the setting sun, not the rising sun as the movie's timeline would have you believe.
- When Ben, Riley and Abagail, go to Independence Hall, he opens the loose brick with a collapsable buck knife. You must go through a metal detector to get into Independence Hall.
- Throughout the movie, it is said the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th, 1776, when in fact, it was only adopted on that day. It was not actually engrossed on parchment, and signed until August 2nd, 1776. The copy that was signed on July 4th was a "rough journal" as it was called, and then only signed by John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress and Charles Thomson, the Secretary.
- Editing again... When Riley is receiving the "S-S-A-N-D" letters from the young boy outside the Franklin Institute, you can see the yellow paper with the "STOW" letters on it tucked under the edge of the newspaper he's writing on. "STOW" were the last set of letters he had yet to receive (and that the boy eventually gave to Ian).
- Chemistry of spies - Lemon juice is used to create invisible ink, not expose it, and it turns brown when heated; it does not fade away again as it cools.
- It is mentioned that Benjamin Franklin was the first to suggest daylight saving time, this is incorrect. Benjamin Franklin mentioned saving daylight in a humorous letter urging Parisians to save money by getting to bed earlier and getting up earlier to use morning sunlight, thereby burning fewer candles in the evening. Franklin did not mention daylight saving time-he did not propose that clock time be changed.
- A good thing is Ben's use of a water bottle to magnify the image of Independence Hall on the back of $100 bill. This can lead to several good refraction discussions and demos.