Or Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, to give it its full title, is an example of why Ben Stiller should stick to playing “ordinary” people and ditch all the over-the-top characters he insists on resorting to. One Larry Daley is worth fifty bloody Derek Zoolanders.
Plot-in-a-nutshell: Larry, from NatM1, has gone on to bigger things. Sadly, he’s too late to find that his friends from the museum are being shipped to the Smithsonian to go into long-term storage. He sets off to rescue them and stop a mad pharaoh from taking over the world. As you do.
NatM2 is a prime example of how to do a sequel. Take the best elements of the first film, forget about wasting time setting up the premise (most of the audience saw the last film anyway) and roll with it. This manages to be one sequel that’s at least as good as the film it follows on from.
There are some genuinely witty moments and Stiller shows some great comic timing. The new characters are, in honesty, better than the ones they replace or add to from the original. Hank Azaria, in particular, is superb as the lead bad guy Kahmunrah (and The Thinker and Abe Lincoln). You may recognise him from such roles in the Simpsons as Chief Wiggum. And Comic Shop Guy. And Professor Frink. And Apu. And about 150 other roles. Vocal talent, he has it.
A quick thumbs-up for Steve Coogan in one of his best rÃ´les, as well. Oh, and for Amy Adams (no, I’d not heard of her either) who sparkles as Amelia Earhart. It’s good to see a sidekick in a film who’s not annoying.
The effects are also superb, and lend themselves well to the film. The original made do mostly with miniaturisation of a few of the cast and a bit of CGI, mainly on Rex. The scriptwriters and effects team have let their imaginations run a little wilder on this one with some excellent visuals. I particularly liked the paintings that came to life and the black and white gangsters.
If there’s a downside, it’s that Hollywood keep throwing money at Ricky Gervais. He’s not funny – stop it. The film could have managed fine without him – as could the first one. Please, please, just stop feeding his ego and let him quietly slide into obscurity where he belongs.
Oh, and sit into the credits briefly. There’s a cracking little joke a minute or so in.
Great all-ages fun. The kids will love the big effects and whacky bad guys. Adults will appreciate a lot of the humour and historical nuances. Recommended.