Friday, December 4, 2009

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 37.8 GB
Film Size: 20.1 GB
Film Rating: PG
Region: A

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. You may notice the film has a different look than the first, several noted differences are the aspect ratio, level of film grain, as well as intensity of colors.

I always thought the first film had a very oversaturated look and of course lacked film grain, which made it look very digital and less film-like. Night at the Museum 2 definitely is the opposite though, sporting a very strong film look with a welcome layer of film grain present throughout.

Colors are rich and fantastic, without ever looking pushed or forced, it all just looks very natural. Detail is also very strong on this release, the sharpness and clarity over DVD can be quite impressive.

The film's effects are not always the greatest, despite some moments of looking very nice, the octopus for example lacks quite a bit of detail and the high-def presentation only makes that issue much more clear. Overall though the video presentation is very good, and will certainly leave fans pleased and impressed. 8/10.

A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included. Night At The Museum is quite the action packed film, there's always something crazy going on. I had high expectations for the high-def mix, but unfortunately it was a bit disappointing. There were no actual technical issues with the mix, but I felt much more could have been done with it.

Dialogue of course is front heavy, always clear through. The part that disappoints is the use of the surround sound area, it is used, but certainly not as aggressively nor as much as it could have been. The majority of effects actually stay quite front-heavy, making this a rather dull audio track.

There is still a lot to love about the upgrade in clarity, particularly when compared to the DVD audio track, I just thought this could have been a stunning demo track rather than just good. 8/10.


Disc 1:

Audio Commentary
by Director Shawn Levy.

Audio Commentary
by Writers Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon.

Scavenger Hunt Mode
Embark on a scavenger hunt while you watch the film, includes easy and hard difficulty settings.

The Curators Of Comedy (27:52) (HD)
Behind-the-scenes of Night at the Museum 2.

Historical Confessions (6:29) (HD)
Famous last words.

Directing 201 (19:20) (HD)
A day in the life of Director/Producer Shawn Levy.

Cavemen Conversations (4:19) (HD)
A sit-down interview with the cavemen.

Museum Magic (5:42) (HD)
See how they film a period piece in current day.

Secret Doors And Scientists (15:59) (HD)
Behind-the-scenes of the American Museum of Natural History.

Phinding Pharaoh (4:50) (HD)
See the many ideas Hank Azaria and crew had for the voice of Pharaoh.

Show Me The Monkey Featurettes (18:00) (HD)
Includes Monkey Business, Primate Prima Donnas and The Secret Life Of A Monkey Movie Star: Life Off Camera.

The Jonas Brothers In Cherub Bootcamp (3:53) (HD)
See the Jonas Brothers train to become cherubs.

Deleted Scenes (26:44) (HD)
With optional commentary by Director Shawn Levy. 12 scenes are included, some deleted, some extended and an alternate ending.

Gangster Levy (1:57) (HD)
The Director filmed a film noir scene for the film, which is on display in the museum during the film.

Gag Reel (8:10) (HD)

Fox Movie Channel Presents: (9:37) (SD)
Making A Scene.

Fox Movie Channel Presents: (5:30) (SD)
World Premiere.

Trailers (HD)
Trailers are included for Aliens In The Attic, Fame, Amelia, (500) Days Of Summer, Post Grad, All About Steve and Glee.

Disc 2:

DVD copy of the film.

Disc 3:

Digital Copy of the film
Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media.

The extras on this release are quite impressive and they are almost all in high-definition. For a family film this is more than I am used to seeing, with features for all ages to enjoy. The inclusion of a DVD and Digital Copy only makes the extras value much more impressive. I certainly don't see a double-dip release anytime soon. 9/10.

Blu-news Summary
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is a sequel that could have felt like a quick cash-in based on the success of the original film. Fortunately the film is far from a quick cash-in, I actually think it's better than the original in quite a few ways.

The entire cast returns for the sequel, some with much less camera time than the first and some with more. With sequels come character additions, and in this case it's completely positive. The addition of Amy Adams and Hank Azaria in particular add so much to the film. Amy Adams always has that likeable charm and appeal, while Hank Azaria proves he's more than just funny voices.

The Night at the Museum sequel is much bigger than the original, filled with much more action and special effects. The addiiton of more effects can be a bad thing as seen with many sequels, but in this case it actually works much better. The effects themselves may not always be so strong, but they make a lot more situations and characters possible for the film.

The movie is aimed at families in particular, featuring silly on-screen gags that are mostly aimed at kids. Those with children may find themselves enjoying the film more than they expected to, as they do try to make it appealing to adults as well. I think it's a well-balanced mix for a family film, and if you liked the first film you will certainly like this sequel. 8/10.

The Blu-ray release is strong, featuring a great video presentation, a good audio mix and so many additional features. The Blu-ray release is 'Highly Recommended' for fans, and certainly 'Recommended' to all others.

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