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Battle of the Smithsonian pits degraded characterization against uninspired dialog

  • Jun 1, 2009
Night at the Museum is still an interesting premise, but the writing on this particular film was not very good.  The plot was not as engaging and the characters were not as empathetic as the original.  So although it was still a somewhat fun movie, it was disappointing.

Here are some of the reasons for the disappointment on a character by character basis:
  • Ben Stiller was about the same.  So this was not a disappointment, but the further development of his character was.  For me, the storyline of him developing a successful infomercial business was not believable or endearing.  In the first movie, he was the nice guy who is down and out that everyone roots for.  In this movie, he has become some huckster ala George Foreman, so I wasn't as engaged with his character.  He does have probably the best scene of the movie with a museum security guard, but other than that I was not impressed with the story or the performance.
  • Amy Adams was fun as Amelia Earhart, but at the same time I found her character to be a little too salacious for a family movie and I doubt very true to history.
  • Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan had some great scenes together in the first installment, but this time around their scenes were not as interesting or engaging.  It is tough to live up to the expections set by the original sometimes.
  • Robin Williams reprises his role as Teddy Roosevelt, but again he is not given much to work with regarding story line or dialog.  Another phoned in performance.
  • Mizuo Peck also returns as Sacajawea, but for what reason I do not know.  She had a very prominent role in the first film and gave a fairly nuanced performance for this genre.  However, she was given nothing to work with this time around and the interesting storyline of the first film is completely dropped.
  • There were a host of new characters, e.g. Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Al Capone, that could have provided some very interesting material to work with.  Instead, their characters were largely cliched and dull, adding nothing to the excitement of the movie.  The writing just wasn't very good and the talents of these actors, Christopher Guest especially, were wasted.
  • Ricky Gervais' return was the most disappointing of all.  He literally stole the first film with his hilarious lines as the museum curator.  He doesn't really have any funny lines this time around and so is added to the list of characters that went downhill in the sequel.

The premise of a museum coming to life is still a fun idea.  With the sequel set in the Smithsonian, there were limitless possibilities to expand on this theme.  However, without good writing, it just results in fairly pointless scenes of action that are less interesting and exciting.  A swing and a miss.

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September 10, 2010
Very nice review. Stated differently than in my own, but I certainly have to agree with pretty much everything you say. I'd love to see this idea, with this enormous budget, executed well.
September 10, 2010
Thanks for the feedback. It is really disappointing when a sequel doesn't attempt to live up to the promise of the original. I am not holding my breath for part III . . . :-)
June 03, 2010
Impressive revewing style! I like it a lot! I am really amazed how you managed to get a lot of depth in your discussion of the characters in the review...nicely done! I haven't seen this movie and after your review, I am staying away, far away....
More Night at the Museum: Battle of... reviews
Quick Tip by . September 14, 2010
It featured more of the same of the first movie, but on a much larger scale. Also, Custer was hilarious.
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
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The special effects are breath taking without compromising the story telling.
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
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a super cute sequal to a great family movie. ben stiller is great in these films. not only is it funny but semi-historically educational especially for younger kids.
review by . December 22, 2009
   This review is a compilation. I'm giving the movie 3 stars and tossing in some thoughts from those I watched the movie with.       My twenty-something daughter loved it, thought it was fresh and fun and she loved the long list of visitors in the film. I found the talent that dropped in to be fun and charming as well...but...the inclusion of a few of them in more than just a scene or two would have maybe made the movie even more fun.       My husband …
review by . December 01, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is no longer an out-of-work loser who needs to step up to the plate. This time around he's a highly successful CEO and workaholic who needs to slow down and focus on what really matters. That means he's got to accept that his true calling is not to invent new and mostly useless gadgets (like a glowing flashlight and a super-sized doggie bone) but to be an ordinary night guard in a far from ordinary museum.     One thing that was even more evident in …
review by . December 28, 2009
It's hard for me to grasp that the actors/comics who play Reno Sheriff's Department members Dangle & Junior are the same guys who wrote the 2 NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM movies. It's like telling me that Lenny Bruce wrote BAMBI. RENO is foul-mouthed, fast-paced, improv-heavy and most certainly not kid friendly. The MUSEUM movies are noisy but never untidy, by-the-numbers and family friendly.     But that strangeness aside, it's also amazing to me that so much technical wizardry, hard …
review by . December 22, 2009
This review is a compilation. I'm giving the movie 3 stars and tossing in some thoughts from those I watched the movie with.    My twenty-something daughter loved it, thought it was fresh and fun and she loved the long list of visitors in the film. I found the talent that dropped in to be fun and charming as well...but...the inclusion of a few of them in more than just a scene or two would have maybe made the movie even more fun.    My husband thought that …
review by . December 01, 2009
This is yet another family-pleasing installment in this series (Can you tell I'm hoping for more?). I thought that I preferred the first one to this one, but after watching this again, it sure does stand up. I think that it has even more laughs than the first. Hank Azaria is absolutely fantastic as Kahmunrah (sp?), and there's a battle of the night guards scene between Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill that is not to be missed.    I think that the first one has a bit more heart, but …
review by . November 21, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
I had the unique pleasure of watching this movie in the Smithsonian's IMAX theater. Perhaps it was the surroundings, but I found myself enjoying the movie quite a bit. It's got a great mix of action, romance, and comedy for both kids and adults. It's the type of movie that I hope Hollywood makes more of - decent movies that the whole family can enjoy without any sexual undertones.    Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian builds upon the last movie, Night at the Museum, …
review by . August 16, 2009
My wife and I enjoyed the original "Night at the Museum" we expected to the sequel to be typical of seconds... not quite as good. However, "Battle of the Smithsonian" bucks this trend - and in our opinion it is significantly better than the original. The plot is a bit silly - our favorite night-watchman had made it big as inventor of useless products. His new position as CEO means that he is no longer working at the museum. The museum has also undergone a few changes - namely most of the exhibits …
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David P. Nesbitt ()
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Soul: The first thing to know about me is that my worldview is decidedly Christian. Therefore, my chief end in life is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. My content on this site and my life in general … more
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Ben Stiller returns to Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian as Larry Daley, the unfortunate night watchman who continues to encounter living and breathing museum exhibits. The film brings the Smithsonian to life, the world's largest museum complex with more than 136 million items in its collections, ranging from the plane Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) flew on her non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic to Dorothy's ruby slippers and Fonzie's jacket from Happy Days.

As caretaker of the Smithsonian, Larry faces conflict when an evil Pharaoh comes to life with the reestablishing of a tablet as a magical force in the museum, bringing the old exhibits (such as Theodore Roosevelt and Dexter) and new exhibits (like General Custer and Al Capone) back to life. Larry enlists the help of Amelia Earheart, who he later develops a romantic interest in, and together they try to put the museum back in order.

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