Saturday, 23 May 2009

Movie Review - Night at the Museum - Battle of the Smithsonian

If there's one film I hadn't been expecting a sequel to, it was Night at the Museum - somehow it felt like they'd done all that could be done with the idea. However the decision-makers obviously thought otherwise and Ben Stiller is back in the role of the museum's night guard, awaiting the time each day when all the exhibits will come to life thanks to an ancient Egyptian talisman.

Well, not quite - Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is now a successful inventor who owns his own company and appears on TV with George Foreman to promote his latest inventions, while museum manager Dr McPhee (Ricky Gevais) is upgrading the museum to have holographic displays and sending all the old exhibits are being sent to the world's largest museum, the Smithsonian. When Dexter, the mischievous monkey, steals the magical golden scroll which brings things to life at night, things start to get a bit tricky... after all, not only the old museum exhibits come to life, but so do the inhabitants of all 17/19 museums that make up the Smithsonian. Only Larry knows about this, of course, and so only he can stop it.

An awakened Egyptian prince (Kah Mun Ra) knows that the does more than just bring museum exhibits to life, and is planning on world domination. Several famous villains and military leaders from history are ready to join him - Napoleon, Ivan the Terrible, Al Capone... and it seems that nothing can stop him. Larry teams up with Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams), and gets some more help from old and new friends along the way as he tries to stop the sinister plan from coming to fruition.

Though overall this is an enjoyable enough film, it's an odd mixture of mediocre minutes and inspired moments. There are some wonderful scenes but an awful lot of rather mundane action in between. Ben Stiller is okay in the main role, reprising his performance from the first Night at the Museum movie. Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan etc get a few reasonable scenes apiece, and as the heroine Amy Adams does a fine job with a character who could have been rather annoying, but instead comes across as charming and feisty. Alain Chabat and Christopher Guest have fun as Napoleon Bonaparte and Ivan the Terrible. The acting honours here definitely go to Bill Hader for his memorable performance as wide-eyed General Custer, but mainly to Hank Azaria as Kah Mun Ra, easily outshining everyone else with his extremely funny bad guy. If you're not quite sure about whether to watch this film, watch it for Hank Azaria's performance.

There are a few very funny moments dotted throughout the film (look out particularly for Groucho [from Sesame Street] and Darth Vader trying and failing to join the evil gang). A lot of the film is really quite bland an uninteresting, but every so often there is a flash of pure genius. Like the first movie it occasionally gets tediously childish. The dependable Alan Silvestri provides a decent enough music score to accompany the film, and the special effects are mostly good. In particular the way that Al Capone and his cronies appear in black and white while everything else is in colour is very well done. A couple of scenes don't look quite as good but not to the extent that it really detracts from the film.


Overall

Not as good as the first movie, but some moments were pure genius. Watch it for those moments and let the rest of it, which is somewhat mundane, wash over you.


Other Information

Directed by Shawn Levy (also directed the first Night at the Museum)
Runtime: 105 minutes
Rated PG for mild action and brief language

Though I'll probably always refer to it as "Night at the Museum 2", the film's official title is: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.


Kah Mun Ra's verdict on Darth Vader:

Is that you breathing? Because I can't hear myself think! There's too much going on here; you're asthmatic, you're a robot. And why the cape? Are we going to the opera? I don't think so.



Review of Night at the Museum




CaptainD - Movie Reviews Blog


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