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Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) Print E-mail
Wednesday, 09 December 2009
ImageIn 2006 “Night at the Museum” captured imaginations.  Bringing the Natural History Museum of New York to life was inspiring.  The success of the film has spawned a sequel three years later.  While the majority of the cast returns, they are all an underwhelming part of the story.

“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” is somewhat exciting, but suffers from the typical sequel syndrome.  The story is very disappointing.  It is uneventful and rather chaotic.  Right from the start the story is unexpected.  It is two years after the end of the first film and Larry has left the night guard position to start his own company that creates gadgets.  This isn’t what any viewer would expect the way to movie to start, leaving you somewhat disappointed from the start.

When Larry finally revisits his pals at the museum, he discovers the exhibit is closed for renovations.  All his pals are being crated and ready for shipment to the Federal Archives in Washington D.C.  Despite his newfound pull with organizations, he is unable to stop the change at the museum.  The very next night he receives a call from a panicked Jedediah (Owen Wilson).  It seems that the monkey stole the sacred tablet that brings them to life.  In doing so, the tablet brings to life Kamunrah, the owner of the tablet.  He intends to use the tablet to open his gateway and release his army.

When the code doesn’t work, he holds Jedediah captive and gives Larry one hour to figure out what the tablet’s code is.  He has since teamed up with Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams).  She has a strong sense of adventure that becomes quite helpful to Larry.  Larry seeks out help from some works of art such as The Thinker and crews at the Air and Space Museum.  The sequence of events is uninspiring, resulting in a film that will hardly be memorable.  This sequel is a good attempt by the filmmakers, but it certainly should not result in a third film in the franchise.

“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” is presented on Blu-ray with a striking video transfer.  The colors are more than exceptional.  They are vibrant and accurate throughout the film.  The color and black levels provide a nice since of depth to the image.  Along with the fine layer of film grain, the image retains a nice texture.  Contrast can get a bit hot at times.  Some of the visual effects can also flatten the image a bit.  Outdoor daytime sequences suffer a little.  Groves of trees are not as distinguished as they should be.  Other than that, details are extraordinary.  Every costume and set is very ornate.  The included DVD doesn’t hold a candle to the Blu-ray transfer.  This is a winner, hands down.
Despite the terrific video transfer, I was disappointed by the audio.  Most of it has to do with the original audio, but it certainly doesn’t hold up well in a home theater.  Much to my surprise the mix is largely front-heavy.  I expected immersion to be intense due to the nature of the story.  Unfortunately, it is not.  The audio track moves from front heavy to the occasional discreet surround effect and pans to full force.  Dynamics don’t go much of anywhere despite the constant use of airplanes and rocket engines.  Dialogue remains intelligible at all times.  The LFE channel is smooth, but only really noticeable in the final battle and the walking of the Lincoln memorial.  The panning of sound effects varies from being spot on to being cut short.  Overall, the audio track could have conveyed much more activity than what was included.

The Blu-ray disc package comes with a rather terrific supplemental package.  There is plenty of information here for fans.  First, there are two audio commentaries.  The first is with director Shawn Levy.  The second commentary is with writers Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant.  Neither track is truly interesting.  Both offer standard information.  To be expected, there is a gag reel and 12 deleted scenes, which includes and alternate ending.  Scavenger Hunt is a trivia track that plays with the movie.  “Director 101: A Day in the Life of Director Shawn Levy” follows Levy around the set.  “The Curators of Comedy: Behind the Scenes of “NATM:BOTS” is a more than traditional behind the scenes featurette.  “Historical Confessions: Famous Last Words” allows historical figures to say a last line or two.  “Phinding Pharaoh” takes a look at the search for Kamunrah.  “Caveman Conversations: Survival of the Wittest” is a not at all funny sketch.  “Secret Doors and Scientists” goes behind the scenes at the operation of the museum.  “Museum Magic: Entering the World of the Photograph” explores the effects of entering the artwork of the museum.  “Cherub Bootcamp” is a brief look at the Jonas Brothers’ part as the cherubs.  “Monkey Mischief” is a lengthy exploration with Dexter and Able, the true stars of the show.  Finally, “Gangster Levy” examines Levy’s starring role in the film as one of the gangsters and the necessity to create an original sequence.

The Blu-ray package also contains a DVD Copy of the film and a Digital Copy of the film.

“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” is an underwhelming adventure that had potential.  The video quality is absolutely stunning, but the audio quality falls short.  This disc is certainly worth a look.

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