Night At The Museum II: Battle of the Smithsonian


Rating 2½

Directed by Shawn Levy

Written by Thomas Lennon, from a story by Robert Ben Garant, based on the book by Milan Trenc

Starring Ben Stiller (Larry Daley), Amy Adams (Amelia Earhart), Owen Wilson (Jedediah Smith), Steve Coogan (Gaius Octavius), Hank Azaria (Kahmunrah, The Thinker and Abraham Lincoln), Christopher Guest (Ivan the Terrible), Alain Chabet (Napoleon Bonapart), Jon Bernthal (Al Capone), Bill Hader (General George Armstrong Custer), Jon Bernthal (Attila the Hun), Mizuo Peck (Sacagawea), Rami Malek (Ahkmenrah), Jake Cherry (Nicky Daley), the Jonas Brothers (the Cupids), Ricky Gervais (Dr McPhee) and Robin Williams (Theodore Roosevelt)

Three years have passed since Larry Daley was the night guard at the American Museum of Natural History. He now owns his own company that manufactures his inventions, including a glow-in-the-dark flashlight. When he visits the museum again he discovers that it is closed for renovation and most of the old exhibits are being permanently moved to storage in the Federal Archives at the Smithsonian Institution. Larry flies to Washington and is able to gain access into the archive where, when the suns sets, the exhibits come to life and he has to call on the help of Amelia Earhart and General George Armstrong Custer to help him to stop the Pharaoh Kahmunrah, who intends to unleash the army of the underworld.


I watched ‘Night at the Museum’ really wanting to like it and came away disappointed. It was, however, a major box office success and a sequel was inevitable. The second film, like its predecessor, was released to mixed reviews and has a 44% rotten rating at Rotten Tomatoes from 155 reviews. The first film was also given a 44% rating from 126 reviews. The sequel did not quite manage to emulate the success of the first film at the box office, although it did gross a little over £412 million against a production budget of $150 million, placing it at No.7 in the worldwide grosses of 2009 according to Box Office Mojo.

‘Battle of the Smithsonian’ largely follows the format of the first film, just with a bigger setting and, one supposes, a bigger budget. This time around there is no necessity to introduce Larry Daley into the secret magical world and have him come to terms with the reality of exhibits that come to life at night when the museum is shut. Perhaps that is part of the reason why I enjoyed this second film a lot more than the first one. It shares many of the faults of the first film, but it doesn’t get bogged down in the stilted exposition of that film and we are also spared the presence of the decidedly less than amusing Dick Van Dyke (who I don’t dislike) and Mickey Rooney. However, a more likely reason for my preference for the sequel is Amy Adams. The film undoubtedly benefits from her screen presence, her likeability and her already well established acting skills. Her Amelia Earhart might not be a multi-layered character study in this setting, but she is perfectly cast in the role.

Review posted 1 November 2009


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