Starring: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Hank Azaria
Director: Shawn Levy
Running Time: 104 mins
Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian is an American film and the sequel to Night At The Museum. After Larry discovers that Dexter has stolen the tablet during the exhibits’ transfer into storage at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C, and that the evil Kahmunrah is close to taking control of it, he is forced to go back to his night guard work to save them, and possibly the world.
The first Night At The Museum really isn’t all that bad. It’s fun, it’s got good comedy, and it pulls off a preposterous premise very well. However, Battle Of The Smithsonian doesn’t really match up no matter how big it goes. Despite a couple of strong additions in the form of new characters and environments, this sequel is neither funny nor consistently entertaining enough to provide the fun of its predecessor.
This film isn’t all awful, however, so let’s start on the bright side, with the performances. For one, Ben Stiller turns up yet again to give an energetic and entertaining performance, even if his character is far from fascinating or well-developed from the first film. What’s more is that, amidst the huge range of new characters introduced here, we get a couple of new entertaining performances.
Hank Azaria plays Kahmunrah, the villain, and although the film’s iffy humour burdens him with an ultimately annoying lisp, he plays the character well enough for you to look past that and see him as a pretty good comical villain. Also, Amy Adams puts in a great show as Amelia Earhart, putting on a brilliantly over-the-top performance that helps the film to move slightly away from the Ben Stiller show.
The performances are the best part of the film, and definitely help to provide more laughs than the somewhat underwhelming script. There are some decent jokes (the Thinker/VJ Day etc.), but I definitely wasn’t enjoying this as much, particularly in a comedic sense, as the first film.
The problem is that this film just feels so repetitive. I’m not saying that Night At The Museum was a classic work of comedic genius, but when we’re seeing so many of the same jokes again and again, and you don’t have any really stunning performances, writing or directing to keep it entertaining, it’s not easy to laugh in the same light-hearted way, which was a shame to see.
However, the biggest problem of all is in the story. Apart from the fact that we’re watching an incredibly similar plot to the first film, the pacing and structure are all over the place. For one, the film takes far too long to get into its principal story. At the beginning, the film attempts to rekindle the emotional attachment to the museum’s exhibits that was surprisingly effective last time out, however it comes across this time as overly cheesy, and even more frustrating given how long it goes on for.
Also, once we do reach the Smithsonian, the film splits into three poorly balanced side plots. At the centre, we have Ben Stiller and Amy Adams evading the villains’ henchmen, but the film too regularly splits off from the most entertaining part of the film to look at the villains plotting, or the New York exhibits sitting stuck in a container, which really destroys the flow of the adventure part of the film.
Overal, Battle Of The Smithsonian is a pretty disappointing sequel to a surprisingly entertaining family blockbuster. Whilst it features some strong performances, it suffers from poorly-written comedy, an unoriginal plot and poor structure, all leading to a more frustrating than enjoyable watch, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.5.