Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Video Review: "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian"
The "Night at the Museum" movies are the epitome of everything wrong with modern filmmaking. They have lots of whiz-bang special effects, two or three humorous moments, and no heart or brains.
Night museum guard Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) survived a job inside a museum where all the exhibits come to life. Since then, he's moved on to a successful career as a TV product pitchman -- which brings monetary benefits but not much fulfillment.
Meanwhile, the living exhibits (which turn inanimate during daytime) are shipped off to storage at the Smithsonian museum complex, where the magic tablet brings all those exhibits to life, too.
Unfortunately, one of them is an Egyptian pharaoh (Hank Azaria) who wants to use the tablet to rule the world; he has recruited Ivan the Terrible, Al Capone and Napoleon as his henchman.
And Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) fleshes out a bomber jacket long enough to give Larry a hand, along with a few slaps and smooches.
There's a few clever jokes -- the Jonas Brothers as cupids is cute, and I liked the spoof of the slo-mo action sequences from "300" performed by 2-inch-tall Romans.
But mostly, it's goofy computer-generated mayhem without much point.
Video extras are quite ample. Separate commentary tracks are provided by director Shawn Levy and screenwriters Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon. There's a 19-minute making-of documentary that touches on most aspects of filmmaking, though it's a lot of glad-handing.
The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack also comes with a gag reel of outtakes, about a dozen deleted/alternate scenes, and more. I particularly liked the "Phinding Pharaoh" featurette, which has screen tests of Azaria trying out various accents for his character -- including a Southern one -- before settling on what he dubs a Boris Karloff impression.
A limited edition "Monkey Mischief" disc adds games and featurettes about the monkey star and his handler.
The combo pack also includes a digital copy of the film.
Movie: 1.5 stars
Extras: 3 stars