Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Adventure / Family / Fantasy
Fox || PG - 105 minutes - $39.99 || December 1, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-12-08


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Shawn Levy
Writer(s): Robert Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon (written by)
Cast: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Hank Azaria, Robin Williams, Christopher Guest, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, Bill Hader


Theatrical Release Date: May 22, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director's Commentary
  • Writers' Commentary
  • 12 Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • Interactive Game
  • DVD Copy
  • Digital Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Portuguese

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.::THE FILM::.

The sequel to the 2006 box office smash, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian starts off awfully slow referencing many of the events of the original that even those who saw the first one (like myself) still was quite unfunny. But as the film dragged on and the inane plot took some kind of shape, the movie manages to be some fun by the end.

Night at the Museum 2 opens with former night guard Larry Daley (BEN STILLER) now a successful inventor creating many products including his latest: the glow in the dark flashlight. Life seems to be good as he has an upcoming meeting with Wal-Mart and riches beyond his wildest imagination. Although not so much of late, Larry occasionally visited his friends at night in the museum and on his latest visit he discovers most of them are being boxed up and shipped to Washington D.C. to be stored underneath the vast archives at the Smithsonian.

When Larry receives a distress call from pal Jedediah (OWEN WILSON) that he and his friends are under attack for the sacred tablet, Larry goes into action and flies to D.C. with no real plan or course of action. With the help of his son, Larry manages to get inside (thanks to an interaction of a putz security guard played by an uncredited Jonah Hill) and finds wax statues of warriors outside a shipping container and after the sun goes down, the tablet comes to life and animates everyone and everything in its vicinity, including the lovely Amelia Earhart (AMY ADAMS). Together, Larry and Amelia try to stop the world conquering plan of the ruthless Kahmunrah (HANK AZARIA).

As you can imagine, chaos and impressive special and visual effects ensue.

The biggest upside to this film is a fun performance by the cute Amy Adams playing Amelia Earhart. Now, I haven’t seen the bio-pic where the part was played by Hilary Swank, but from I’ve read, it seems Adams might’ve actually done a better job (I’m partially kidding). Meanwhile, Stiller and the rest of gang of comedians do what they do best with many ad-libs, and quiet humor that only the adults may find funny.

Night at the Museum 2 isn’t too bad of a family film if not for a surprisingly dull first act. I remember sitting there for a good 15 minutes as the filmmakers try and reacquaint everyone with our favorite characters and set up for the plot, the problem was despite some jokes – and in-jokes from the first movie –, none of it was very funny and it went from being dull or being a little uncomfortable as you wonder if the next 90-minutes will be just as brutal.

The supporting cast includes the return of Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt, Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan as Octavius, Hank Azaria in a fun role as the film’s antagonist plus Bill Hader, Christopher Guest and plenty of cameos like Jay Baruchel and members of “The Office”.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Fox is releasing Night at the Museum 2 with a nifty slip cover that is susceptible to those annoying stickers. If not done right, you may take off some of the film from the cover...

Commentary with Director Shawn Levy – I knew this was going to be a hilarious commentary when Levy starts off by saying they didn’t announce their intentions for a sequel until they had a story that merited one... Good one Mr. Levy. In all seriousness, the track is fairly routine with Levy providing information about the story, production, casting and the like but for a solo commentary, it wasn’t all too bad.

Commentary with Writers Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon is a slight change of pace as the writing duo hams it up and talks about the screenplay aspects of Night at the Museum 2 while cracking some jokes.

Scavenger Hunt Mode – With this turned on, you watch the movie and select icons as they appear (for people, objects, etc) and if you get it right it fills your own little tablet as you comes across those items. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

The Curators of Comedy: Behind-the-Scenes of Night at the Museum 2 (27:52; HD) – This is a typical featurette taking a look at how the sequel was made including interviews with the cast and crew; they are affable enough making for an enjoyable ‘making-of’.

Historical Confessions: Famous Last Words (6:29; HD) covers the historical figures used in the film with the actors playing the parts talking about themselves. Intertwined is footage from the film. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Directing 201: A Day in the Life of Director/Producer Shawn Levy (19:19; HD) – Another self-explanatory feature where we get to follow Levy around on the set from morning breakfast to the evening. Actually, this is a pretty interesting featurette for those who are interested in the process of filmmaking and Hollywood in general. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Cavemen Conversations: Survival of the Wittiest (4:18; HD) is another mock featurette where this time the cavemen ooh and aah answers to questions. Um, yeah. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Museum Magic: Entering the World of the Photograph (5:41; HD) is a cool featurette taking a look at how they did the fun sequence when Stiller goes inside the famous 1940s Eisenstadt photo. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Secret Doors and Scientists: Behind-the-Scenes of the American Museum of Natural History (15:58; HD) – This is a tour through the museum showcasing various exhibits plus some behind the scenes looks at the genetic samples in liquid nitrogen and restoration of different pieces. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Phinding Pharaoh (4:50; HD) are some screen tests with Hank Azaria as he tries out some various accents for his role.

Show Me the Monkey Featurettes (17:59) – These are available on a separate disc on the DVD 2-pack. Featurettes include: ‘Monkey Business’ (made from the original movie), ‘Primate Prima Donnas’ and ‘The Secret Life of a Monkey Movie Star’ and are, for the most part, just silly and made for the kids.

Deleted Scenes (26:44) – Available with optional commentary by Shawn Levy, these 12 deleted/extended scenes (the DVD apparently only has 5) also include an alternate ending, which includes cameos by the original night guards from Night at the Museum 1. ** Partial Blu-ray Exclusive **

Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making a Scene (9:36) and Fox Movie Channel Presents: World Premiere (5:29) are just typical made-for-television featurettes that also serve to advertise the movie. Also, one is presented in letterboxed widescreen and the other in full frame.

Other ho-hum features include: The Jonas Brothers in Cherub Bootcamp (3:53; HD), an overly long spoof featurette; Gangster Levy (1:57; HD) ** Blu-ray Exclusive **; a funny Gag Reel (8:10; HD) and some trailers (HD).

And in what’s becoming more and more the norm for Blu-ray, the set includes a DVD Copy and the Digital Copy (** Blu-ray Exclusive **) (which I never use).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian is presented in almighty 1080p high definition and in its original 2.35 aspect ratio. The film isn’t overly vibrant but the colors are well defined without bleeding over. Detail level also is quite good as I noticed no signs of tampering which is sometimes done using DNR or edge enhancement, even for current releases; plus there weren’t any obvious flaws like dust or scratches. But given it is a newer big budget film, I expect nothing less from this disc.

The DTS-HD 5.1 audio track isn’t anything amazing as it seemed to be a little soft at first, but after some adjusting, it’s a good track. The dialogue generally comes from the center channel while all the audio effects make use out of the side and rear channels. The sequence inside the Air and Space Museum was probably the best sounding of the entire movie.



.::OVERALL::.

Although Night at the Museum 2 never quite caught the magic of the original, I thought as kid-friendly sequels go, it had enough of an entertainment factor that even adults might find parts of it enjoyable. The Blu-ray does have some nice visuals and a half-decent audio experience to go along with many exclusive features unavailable on the DVD counterpart.