Plot: What’s it about?
It was inevitable. With the remarkable success of “Night at the Museum” a couple years back, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood cranked out a sequel. Now that’s not bad as good family films are a bit hard to come by and aren’t exactly a dime a dozen. That, coupled with the fact that I’m always a sucker for a good Owen Wilson/Ben Stiller comedy (my favorite two being “Meet the Parents” and “Starsky and Hutch”). The first “Night at the Museum” introduced us to the characters and showed us what the museum was really like. As any good sequel, “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” expands on that and, of course, gives us a much larger and more diverse cast. Hey, if it worked once it’ll certainly work again (the formula, that is). Now if you’ve not seen the first installment, then stop right here and go watch it. It’s good. After that, come back and read the remainder of this review.
Stiller reprises his role as security guard Larry Daley. Larry’s enjoyed a bit of success since the first film. He’s now the head of “Daley Devices” which manufactures a trio of inventions that Larry found useful in his stint as a security guard. These inventions: a glow-in-the-dark flashlight, a keyring that can’t be lost and a oversized dog bone are to make him a rich man. However as he treks back to the museum, he finds that some of the exhibits have been replaced due to budget costs and that they’ve actually been moved to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Larry is reunited with his old pals from the first film and we’re introduced to a slew of new historical figures including Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams), Gen. George Custer (Bill Hader), Ivan the Terrible (Christopher Guest) and Pharaoh Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria). Suffice it to say that the cast has nearly doubled and madness ensues. Will Larry be able to save the day (again) or are the exhibits destined to spend the rest of their “lives” in the wrong museum?
Video: How does it look?
“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” is shown in a brilliant-looking 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer which accurately represents the theatrical release. Colors are bold and striking and detail is amazing, just look at the costumes for an example of this. As we might expect with a movie of this caliber, there’s very little to complain about. This is one of Fox’s marquee titles and they’ve done this one right. Flesh tones seem very warm and natural and given the vast array of characters in the film, there’s certainly a diverse palette to compare to. In a nut shell, this looks just as good as we might expect it to. A nice effort!
Audio: How does it sound?
Fox has given “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” a DTS HD Master Audio track that, predictably, sounds pretty darn good. While a majority of the film is dialogue driven, the score takes control during some of the action sequences. Like the first film, there’s a good selection of action and movement and this is when the surrounds take over and really give the film some depth. By and large, this sound stage is relegated to the front three channels, but the LFE do get involved and give the film a bit of extra “oomph”. Like the video, the audio delivers on more than one level – as we might expect.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Fox has wisely given this movie a vast array of supplements and we start off with a commentary by director Shawn Levy who offers up a good variety in his track, though it’s more on the technical side of things (as we might expect). More interesting is the track by the writers, Robert Garant and Thomas Lennon who provide more of an emphasis on the characters. If I had to choose between the two, this would be my choice. There’s also a Blu-ray exclusive “Scavenger Hunt Mode” which allows the viewer to play a game while watching the movie. We also get “Historical Confessions: Famous Last Words” in which the historical figures talk about living with the other famous figures (this is a hoax of course) and we also get “Directing 201: A day in the live of Director/Producer Shawn levy”. This is fairly self-explanatory as the twenty minute segment takes us through the course of the day. We also get some techincal featurettes such as “Music Magic: Entering the World of the Photograph” and it gives us some detail and insight as to how this effect was achieved in the film. “Secret Doors and Scientitsts: Behind the Scenes of the American Museum of Natural History” gives us a look at how some museums have thrived due to the success of these films.
Moving on we find “The Curators of Comedy: Behind the Scenes of ‘Night at the Museum 2′” in which we find everything we’re supposed to find, some interviews with the cast and crew how this is “better than the first” and “more exciting” and the larger cast as well. There’s a piece on actor Hank Azaria entitled “Phinding Pharaoh” and “Cherub Bootcamp” focuses on The Jonas Brothers. There’s also a dozen deleted scenes. We also get three “Monkey” featurettes: “Monkey Business”, “Primate Prima Donnas” and “The Secret Life of a Monkey Movie Star” All three are aimed at a younger audience and I took each one with a grain of salt. More still is “Gangster Levy” as he discusses the black and white scene for the film and “Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making a Scene” in which we get a walk through of of the Air and Space Museum. We also get two games: “Monkey Slap” and “Able and Dexter’s Flights of Fancy”. Also included is a digital copy of the film.