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Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian
Genre Family
Year: 2009
 
Review:

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian returns with the same team that brought us Night at the Museum, with Ben Stiller at the helm, writers Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon in the engine room and director, Shawn Levy on the steering wheel. The movie is even bigger than Night at the Museum, by expanding into Washington’s Smithsonian museum, but this bigger is better ideology has its pros and cons. A bigger budget means bigger names, bigger effects and a bigger story, but that always seems to make a movie seem bloated. This is how the Battle of the Smithsonian works as a sequel… dazzle the audience with amazing effects, bringing history to life and instill a sense of patriotism to the flag. The D.C. monuments and references are just one frame away from “star-strangling” the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington montage. It’s clearly a film about American history with a prominence on the Civil War, and with most of the enemies derived from other nations/cultures. The movie really appeals to kids in a similar way to the first Night at the Museum. They may go to museums with unrealistically high expectations from now on, but let’s face it… getting them to museums is good enough! The series can also be applauded for inspiring greater learning… even more so than Ben Stiller’s Zoolander character, who “built” the Centre for Kids Who Can’t Read Good.

This time round… the cast is coupled with even more recognisable faces and names with Hank Azaria, Amy Adams, Christopher Guest and Bill Hader joining the Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Robin Williams and Ricky Gervais comic troupe. With so many talented comedians in the fray, it’s difficult to imagine Battle of the Smithsonian not being funny. Reno 911! men, Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, write yet another compelling screenplay with a few laughs, but this sequel does have an old-hat feel. The magic of discovering dead-air museum pieces coming to life is a given, the big factor dwarfs any chance of emotional connection with the characters and the dialogue just seems like glue to the special effect sequences. The cast is assembled to appease the adult component of the audience, but with so many stars… some are bound to get lost in the big picture. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian succeeds in retracing the popular original movie with a revival, however it’s the stellar cast, magical story and special effects that keep it from being archived.

Shawn Levy’s direction is a little shaky at times, but you can almost forgive directors that are working with predominant green screen imagination. The writers compose a story worthy of a sequel, but there are too many characters to generate any sense of real intimacy and it becomes as personal as sitting next to someone on a rollercoaster. Night at the Museum 2 is still entertaining and is a real treat for the kids, but it’s the sort of easy-to-forget sequel that filters back into the original. If you loved Night at the Museum, you’ll enjoy Battle of the Smithsonian. It has its moments and you’ll more than likely finish the movie with a light appreciation of the ride. The concept is second-hand, but still has a lot to offer in terms of visual decadence. Let’s just hope they have the presence of mind to tighten the ropes on the next Night at the Museum. That, or they’ll probably fall into the same trap as Spider-Man 3.

The bottom line: Fun.

Splingometer 6 - Night at the Museum 2

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