The Geeky Parent Guide aims to highlight media that both kids AND their grown-ups will be able to enjoy. This year, the GPG is focusing not only on the joy of the content itself, but on digging deeper to determine *why* media is of interest to various members of the family, as well as the valuable (and challenging) aspects of its messaging. As families grow and evolve, so, too, do their interests, and we hope to provide fun and thoughtful ways for families to sit back, relax, and enjoy new books, movies, comics, TV, and more.
Today, we explore Disney’s National Treasure: Edge of History, a treasure-hunting tale where Jess Valenzuela (played by Lisette Olivera) and her friends navigate a dangerous path on an ancient quest, while also unraveling parts of her family’s secretive past along the way.
NATIONAL TREASURE: EDGE OF HISTORY
Release Date: 2022
Where to Stream: Disney+
What Is National Treasure: Edge of History About?
Jess Valenzuela lives a relatively fun life with her friends, but soon discovers a connection that leads to Peter Sadusky – a recurring character from the original National Treasure movies. Sadusky tells Jess about her own personal ties to a lost treasure, and despite knowing nothing about it, this motivates her to discover more.
Jess enlists help from her closest friends – Tasha, Oren, and Ethan – while determining whether or not to trust Sadusky’s estranged grandson. Along with hidden rooms, puzzles to decode, and maps to follow, Jess must outwit Billie Pearce. Played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billie is an antiquities dealer who is also racing to find the treasure; however, her methods are much more unforgiving.
National Treasure: Edge of History is a 10-episode season, with each episode lasting between 45 to 50 minutes. This series tackles issues such as dealing with hidden pasts, death, and grief, while the characters present themselves lightheartedly (most of the time) to counterbalance serious topics – or when the villain is trying to kill them.
Why It’s Good for Parents
If you are a fan of the National Treasure films, this series presents a similar treasure-hunting vibe. The main character has an innate ability to solve puzzles, much like Ben Gates, the character portrayed by Nicolas Cage. Jess is able to visualize sequences in a puzzle that’s highlighted onscreen, which makes it enjoyable to see how her mind works.
Solving a good mystery is always satisfying, so Edge of History takes the foundation of National Treasure and National Treasure: Book of Secrets and introduces a new puzzle with a different cast. There are a couple of crossover characters, but they serve as a nice reminder to the originals, adding connective tissue to the National Treasure universe. Plus, Justin Bartha returns as Riley Poole and makes phone calls to Ben, making a future cameo from Cage himself wildly alluring.
Why It’s Good for Teens
Edge of History gives a youthful look at making tough decisions at a young age. Some of these life-or-death decisions are (hopefully) something viewers won’t encounter, but these characters indulge in fashion and social media and constantly question the decisions they make and the people they date.
Seeing young adults make good decisions or questionable mistakes encapsulates what it’s like to be young, even if this comes in the form of a centuries-old mystery where the likes of Billie and her minions are out to maim them. Despite some deadly sequences, most of the cast present likeable characters who only hope to support one another, even if lightly making fun of each other.
Parental Concerns or Limitations
Although this series is presented as TV-14, an argument could be made for a slightly younger audience depending on their maturity. There are a few death scenes where characters are shot and another is stabbed; however, the creators behind this show limited the amount of violence associated with those sequences.
For two of the gun-related deaths, the characters are filmed briefly where blood doesn’t overwhelm a lot of screen time or burden the senses with gory closeups of the wounds. This is an action series, so fighting and gunfire do pop up, but the age restriction could be looked at for a younger audience, if a parent were inclined to do so.
National Treasure: Edge of History dedicates its screen time to a closeknit group of friends who will do almost anything to help each other. Even though most people do not spend their time on ancient treasure hunts, several of these characters deal with real-world issues.
Open About DACA
Jess is a character with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status which allows those who come to the United States as children to remain in the country. A pivotal part to this story depends on all of them going to Mexico, and they point out that she will be unable to come back to the United States if she crosses the border.
There are allowances for travel, but the timeliness of getting “advance parole” to leave the country is problematic on multiple levels. One of the characters, Oren (played by Antonio Cipriano), highlights the disturbing title associated with earning travel privileges.
“It’s called parole? It’s not like you’re under arrest. Who is naming these things? Like, read the room.”
Yeah, what Oren said.
Making Dreams Come True
Many of the characters have various aspirations in life, and it’s important to see those who support you, while also recognizing those who do not. From wanting to be a musician, social media queen, lawyer, or solve a mystery that leads to ancient relics, the Edge of History crew gives present-day likeness to a classic tale of treasure hunting.
Several characters have moments where doubt fills their thoughts or encouraging words help to stabilize their determination. Friendships or significant others can be vital in alleviating such doubts, so having a show where life isn’t perfect but characters ultimately have each other’s backs is very relatable. Okay, so maybe offering to help a friend break someone out of prison isn’t too real world-like, but you get the point.
Additional Recommendations Beyond National Treasure: Edge of History
If you have not seen the beginning of the franchise, National Treasure should be the first item on your to-do list. Although the films do not have the same cast or storylines as Edge of History, the chemistry between characters is wonderful and the adventure is worthy of a sequel – which did happen and also should make your list.
National Treasure is PG-rated, as well as its sequel. There are fight sequences and gunfire like the TV series, but this movie might be slightly more approachable to a younger audience based on its rating. There is one death in the film where a character falls down a dark cavern, but there isn’t anything visually haunting for a younger group – unless they’re afraid of falling great distances or seeing the occasional skeleton from uncovering old pathways along their treasure hunt.
What do you think of National Treasure: Edge of History? Did it live up to its predecessors? Would you want to see more seasons, including cameos from Nicolas Cage? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking!