Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
December 3, 2009 by Dennis Amith
The sequel to “Night at the Museum” features more gags, higher production and action. “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” definitely looks great on Blu-ray and is absolutely loaded with special features. If you enjoyed the film, you’ll definitely enjoy this solid Blu-ray release!
Images courtesy of © 2009 Twentieth Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
DURATION: 105 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/Widescreen 2:35:1, AVC @ 20MBPS, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Portuguese
RATED: PG (Mild Action and Brief Language)
COMPANY: Twentieth Century Fox
RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2009
Directed by Shawn Levy
Written and Characters by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon
Executive Producers: Thomas M. Hammel, Josh McLaglen
Produced by Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus, Shawn Levy, Mark Radcliffe
Associate Producer: Ellen Somers
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography by John Schwartzman
Editing by Dean Zimmerman, Don Zimmerman
Casting by Donna Isaacson
Production Design by Claude Pare
Art Direction by Michael Diner, Anthony Dunne, Helen Jarvis, Grant Van Der Slagt
Set Decoration by Lin MacDonald
Costume Design by Marlene Stewart
Ben Stiller as Larry Daley
Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart
Owen Wilson as Jedediah Smith
Hank Azaria as Kahmunrah, The Thinker and Abe Lincoln
Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt
Christopher Guest as Ivan the Terrible
Alain Chabat as Napoleon Bonaparte
Steve coogan as Octavius
Ricky Gervais as Dr. McPhee
Bill Hader as General George Armstrong
Jon Bernthal as Al Capone
Patrick Gallagher as Attila the Hun
Jake Cherry as Nick Daley
Rami Malek as Ahkmenrah
Mizuo Peck as Sacajawea
History is larger than life — and twice as funny — in this monumental comedy sequel. Ben Stiller (Meet The Parents, There’s Something About Mary) stars as Larry Daley, a former night watchman at the Museum of Natural History, where the exhibits come alive after dark. But now Larry’s nocturnal friends are being retired to the archives of the Smithsonian Institution, luring him back for a hilarious, all-out battle against a cranky Egyptian Pharaoh who plans to take over the museum… and the world!
With the box office success of “Night at the Museum” in 2006 (the film made over $525 million worldwide), both director Shawn Levy (“Cheaper by the Dozen”, “Pink Panther”) and actor Ben Stiller (“Madagascar”, “Tropic Thunder”, “There’s Something About Mary”) waited for the perfect script before getting involved in a sequel. And if they were going to do a film, it would be in a much bigger scale and trying to make the film better than the original and sure enough, this time around, the film worked with the Smithsonian.
“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” went on to make over $412 million worldwide and now the film is available on Blu-ray via a 3-disc set which includes the Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
In the first film, we learned about Larry Daley (played by Ben Stiller) who worked at the American Museum of National History as a night guard and every night, because of the Tablet of Ahkmenrah, since it’s arrival to the museum in 1952, at nights the various props at the museum turn to life. The first film focused on Larry winning his son and also trying to prevent three older night guards from stealing the magical tablet.
In the sequel to “Night of the Museum”, It has been nearly three years later and Larry Daley no longer works for the museum as a night guard. He is now an inventor in which his creations for Daley’s Devices are sold via TV infomercial and has become successful.
But on his day of visiting the National Museum of Art and History, he finds out that the place is temporarily closed and being renovated. The props are being moved to the Smithsonian to make room for holographic props. But on that night, some will be moved to the Smithsonian and some won’t, and with the Tablet of Ahkmenrah being moved, Teddy Roosevelt (played by Robin Williams) explains to Larry that the night is their final celebration together and it would be his final time of turning to life.
While Larry is saddened by the situation, it’s when he receives a call from Jedediah (played by Owen Wilson) and learns that Dexter the monkey has stolen the tablet. To make things worse, evil Pharaoh Kahmunrah (played by Hank Azaria) is now after the tablet (and joined by Napoleon Bonaparte, Ivan the Terrible and Al Capone) and also with the tablet at the Smithsonian, that means that ALL props will now turn to life and possibly causing some major problems.
As Pharaoh Kahmunrah goes after the the tablet (his goal is to raise an army from the underworld), he captures Jedediah and locks up a few of Larry’s museum friends.
Will Larry and Amelia Earhart (played by Amy Adams) with the help of a few friends, be able to prevent the evil pharaoh from retrieving the tablet?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” is featured in 1080p, Widescreen (2:35:1) and once again, Twentieth Century Fox delivers with vibrant and detailed picture quality. You see the textures within the costumes, the metal lining of the pharaohs headdress, the detail of various settings and overall, a colorful film. Even the prop/characters such as the Abraham Lincoln, the fossilized T-Rex, Teddy Roosevelt look very good. There are scenes where the green screen effect wasn’t too convincing (ie. Amelia and Larry on a plane outside of the museum) and almost looked a bit campy. But you can’t help but be hooked in by the awesome production of the film and watching this film in HD really brings out the beauty of the film. So overall, picture quality for “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” is solid.
As for the lossless audio of “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”, the film tends to be front channel heavy. I actually was expecting the film to be quite immersive and there are some scenes (one with Amelia crashing into the museum with the plane or Abe Lincoln taking on the underworld soldiers) that sound quite awesome, but it was not filling up the soundscape that I was quite hoping for. But for the most part, dialogue is clear and understandable, Silvestri’s music also comes out quite nicely through the front channels as well.
Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin and Portuguese.
“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary by Director Shawn Levy – Very informative, upbeat and detailed audio commentary by Shawn Levy. Complimentary to the cast and crew, Levy’s commentary is pretty thorough on discussing many scenes, setting it up and what he wanted to accomplish.
- Audio Commentary by Writers Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon – An upbeat commentary. Informative and fun, both writers tend to joke around but also give information on what is seen at certain museums and explain certain experiences and more.
- Gag Reel – (8:09) “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” bloopers.
- 12 Deleted Scenes Including Alternate Ending -(11:28) Twelve deleted scenes (which include Out of Town Emergency, Brunden: The Director’s Cut, Meet Ivan, Napoleon and Al Capone (Extended), Ivan Interrogates Larry, World Twister, Capone Gets Invited, How Many Bad Guys Can You Fit In an Elevator?, Custer’s Plan (Extended), Moon Rover, Takin’ Em Down, Gangster Style, Larry’s Pep Talk to Custer (Extended), Alternate Ending with Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs) featuring optional audio commentary by director Shawn Levy. From improvisation with Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill, Amelia Earhart’s moonrover scene and more.
- Curators of Comedy: Behind The Scenes With Ben Stiller – (19:55) Behind-the-scenes of “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”. Interviews with the talent and how they wanted to make this series much better than the first and making history come to life. And the cast discussing their favorite scenes in the film.
- Museum Scavenger Hunt Game – While watching the film, you can activate a scavenger hunt where you find items during the film.
- The Jonas Brothers in Cherub Bootcamp -(3:53) Director Shawn Levy talks about needing to hire people to play the cherubs and so he found out that the Jonas Brothers would be perfect. A hilarious featurette featuring Shawn Levy putting the Jonas Brothers through cherub bootcamp.
- Phinding Pharaoh With Hank Azaria – (4:48) Director Shawn Levy talks about having Hank Azaria experiment with various vocals.
- Show me the Monkey Featurettes – (17:56) “Monkey Business” – Interviews with director Shawn Levy and cast about the Crystal the monkey who is in the film and how the trainer utilizes the skills of the talented monkeys in the film. Behind-the-scenes footage of the trainers working with the monkey and more. (12:52) “Primate Prima Donnas” – Showcasing the monkeys Crystal and Squirt and using a second monkey for the film. (6:24) “The Secret of Life of a Monkey Movie Star: Life Off Camera”. A look at how a typical day is for the monkeys.
- Historical Confessions: Famous Last Words – (6:27) Featuring interviews with the characters of “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” and what they contributed in their career.
- Secret Doors and Scientists: Behind-the-Scenes of The American Museum of Natural History – (15:57) Ellen Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History and other staff talk about what is seen in the film can be seen at the American Museum of National History and more. A walkthrough through various parts of the museum and more.
- Cavemen Conversations: Survival of the Wittiest – (4:17) Interviews with the three cavemen of “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” (and of course, all the cavemen do is grunt and make noises).
- Museum Magic: Entering The World Of The Photograph – (5:39) The filming of the post-World War II (VJ Day in Times Square) scene recreating the scene of the Eisenstaedt photo.
- Director 201: A Day in the Life of Director/Producer Shawn Levy – (19:17) The camera follows Director Shawn Levy on the set of “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” for a day. Also, meeting the various crew members working closely with Shawn Levy.
- Gangster Levy – (1:55) A B&W noir short featuring director Shawn Levy and his assistant director. Recreating a gangster noir clip which would be used in the film.
- FOX Movie Channel Presents Making a Scene – (9:35) Interview with the cast and crew and discussing the “No Go for Launch” scene.
- FOX Movie Channel Presents: World Premiere – (5:28) Host Tava Smiley in Washington D.C. at the Smithsonian for the world premiere of “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”.
- TRAILERS – Trailers for upcoming Twentieth Century Fox films.
“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” was a film that was entertaining but similar to the first film, both films are not strong on plot but a film that features good use of CG, special effects and action.
If anything, the hijinks and craziness of the film is still intact and I really did enjoy the scenes featuring both Larry and Amelia. But the film seems like a clutter of comedians and characters trying to get their time on the screen and director Shawn Levy tried to focus too much on these crazy antics of those characters than focus on the overlying storyline.
If anything, the film is your classic cat and mouse game with the evil pharaoh trying to catch Larry and Amelia for the tablet. It’s a simple storyline that tries to include jokes and things that just come out of left field and just sputters downward. Darth Vader and Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch in a scene together? Or an octopus trying to hug and kiss Larry? The humor of some of the jokes just didn’t fly well with me and felt some of the comedy was not funny at all.
Granted, it was nice to see some of “The Office” (USA and UK) cast in the film, Hank Azaria showcasing his voice talent for the character of the Pharaoh and giving the character a comical spin and although short, the improv scene with Stiller and Jonah Hill was fun. I do admit that I felt my attention of the film was more for Amy Adam’s Amelia Earhart character. Adam’s is a talented actress and seeing her act on screen was definitely one of the highlights of the film.
And as for Ben Stiller, although he was in the film, I felt that his character was downgraded and most of the focus was on the surroundings rather than his character. And I suppose it depends what one expects from this film. Those wanting more props, special effects, gags and action…then this film is for you.
Of course, “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”, like its predecessor, is looked at as a family film. A film where kids can be entranced by the surroundings of the museum and almost be taken to a fantasy world. Seeing how my son enjoyed both films tremendously, I suppose the formula works especially since the film has achieved tremendous box office success worldwide.
But in the end, I felt the film was mediocre at best but as a Blu-ray release was quite solid when it came to picture quality and definitely for the inclusion of so many special features. And for children who loved the film, the fact that the Blu-ray release comes with the Blu-ray disc, a DVD and a digital copy of the film is pretty awesome.
Overall, “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” may not be a great film but it does make for a good popcorn flick with awesome production and also has plenty of fun moments. But as long as you are not looking for a serious plot or anything deep, then you’ll definitely be entertained. As for the Blu-ray release, it’s a pretty solid release with 3-discs, awesome picture quality and a lot of special features. So, I have no doubt in my mind that fans of the film will definitely enjoy this release.
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