Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian

PLOT:

Two years after Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) defeated the three night guards that plotted to steal The Tablet, he is now head of Daley Devices, a company that he founded to manufacture his inventions. These inventions, including The Glow-In-The-Dark Flashlight, The Unloseable Keyring, and The Oversized Dogbone, were created from his experiences as a former night guard. Upon revisiting, he finds that The American Museum of Natural History is closed for renovations and upgrades, and some of the museum pieces are being replaced by interactive holograms due to budget costs. The actual exhibits are due to be moved to The Federal Archives at The Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. On the last night, Larry reconnects with his museum exhibit friends including Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Rexxy The Tyrannosaurus Skeleton, and Dexter The Capuchin Monkey (Crystal the Monkey) and when Larry asks Teddy where his crate was, Teddy tells him that himself, Rexy, The Easter Island head (Brad Garret) and Ahkmanrah and his Tablet are not making the Journey and are remaining at the museum-Without the Tablet the exhibits won’t be coming to life anymore which is something Teddy didn’t tell them so they can enjoy their finale night. The next night, Larry gets a call from Jedediah (Owen Wilson), saying that Dexter stole The Tablet last midnight and evil Pharaoh Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria), Ahkmenrah’s older brother, is attacking him, Octavius, Attila the Hun, Sacagawea, Neanderthal and animals. Larry goes to Washington and visits The National Air and Space Museum, The National Gallery of Art and The Smithsonian Institution Building to find The Federal Archives with the help of his son Nick Daley (Jake Cherry).

Larry sneaks into The Archives and locates the exhibits, frozen in the middle of a battle with Kahmunrah and his troops, who are trying to lock the exhibits in a crate. Larry gets hold of The Golden Tablet Of Ahkmenrah, which had been stolen by Dexter, just when the sun sets and all the exhibits come alive again. Kahmunrah and his soldiers lock the crate and take The Tablet from Larry, and he tells Larry that bringing the exhibits to life is just one of the tablet’s powers – he intends to use it to raise an army from The Underworld and conquer the world, by placing The Tablet into its sister artifact: The Gate Of Kahmunrah. Larry tries to convince Kahmunrah to give back the Tablet by telling him about the “Cube of Rubik”. He leads Kahmunrah and his troops to a large box which he found earlier, opens the lock and from it escapes a “Kraken”, which escapes and starts attacking everyone in its way and knocking over other exhibits, including those of a pteranodon and a saber-toothed cat skeleton. Larry manages to run away from the Egyptian troops and escapes with the help of General George Armstrong Custer (Bill Hader), who gets captured, and meets Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams), who is thrilled at the prospect of adventure and accompanies Larry. Larry and Amelia then go through an assortment of paintings and photographs and trap Kahmunrah’s soldiers in one (V-J day in Times Square). They escape Kahmunrah’s men, but are captured by Napolean Bonaparte (Alain Chabat) and his soldiers, who joined Kahmunrah along with Ivan the terrible (Christopher Guest), and Al Capone. Napolean then takes Larry to Kahmunrah, separating Amelia from Larry.

Meanwhile Jedidiah and Octavius tries to help Larry but they are found out by one of Al Capone’s goons, and Jedediah tells Octavius to run away while he distracts them, which leads him to get captured by Kahmunrah and places him in a hourglass, saying that within one hour, he will suffocate in the sand. Octavius sees this and vows to get reinforcements and save him.

Larry is taken to Kahmunrah and Kahmunrah then attempts to activate The Tablet to open The Gate Of The Underworld by pressing the symbols on The Tablet (which difers from the first movie, in which Akmunrah used an incantation to activate the Tablet’s powers), only to find out that the combination has been changed. He orders Larry to decipher The Tablet’s riddle and figure out the new combination before sunrise, and traps Jedediah in an hourglass to hasten his attempts. Larry and Amelia consult a bust of Teddy who says that the answer is in The Heart Of The Pharaoh’s Tomb. The duo then consult The Thinker, but he gets distracted by a beautiful statue of Aphrodite. Larry an Amelia flee from Russian troops and arrive at the Lincoln Memorial where the huge statue of Lincoln comes to life. Finally, at The National Air And Space Museum, they consult a group of Albert Einstein bobbleheads who tell them that the answer to the riddle (and hence the new combination) is the value of pi (because The Tablet is a 3×3 grid, the combination is treated like a phone pad). Larry and Amelia fly the Wright Flyer, return to The Smithsonian Institution Building, and Amelia goes for help while Larry delays Kahmunrah. Ivan, Napoleon and Capone arrive and tell him the code (having intimidated one of The Einstein Bobbleheads into revealing it to them), and he opens The Gate Of The Underworld and summons an army of Horus warriors. Suddenly, the statue of Abraham Lincoln from The Lincoln Memorial bursts through the window, frightening the bird-men back to The Underworld. Amelia arrives, having freed the other exhibits and taken all of the Smithsonian’s exhibets ( including the octopus, the “Thinker’ and some stoneangels), and Custer orders them to attack. During this battle, Octavius frees Jedediah, who is now covered in sand to the head, by smashing the glass with his helmet. They then attack the gangsters, streltsys, and hussars by poking their shoes with swords à la 300. When Larry distracts Napoleon Ivan, and Capone, he runs into Kahmunrah, and when the battle ends Larry duels Kahmunrah with his flashlight (Which he took out of the locker room) and Kahmunrah is defeated when Larry kicks him and then grabs Kahmunrah by the neck. Kahmunrah gives Larry a final comment (“What are you?!”) before Larry then banishes him into the underworld forever. Everybody then cheers a victory cry and Larry says that he only has an hour until sunrise and he tells the exhibits he wants them back at the museum. They wave goodbye to Custer, Thinker, and the gods of love, and Amelia then flies them back to New York where she tells Larry she knows that she won’t be alive anymore. She then says her goodbyes and she leaves.

Teddy welcomes him back, and Larry assures him he has a way for them to remain there. He tells Teddy he’ll remain at the museum and be happy, instead of working at Daley Devices. Some time later, it is revealed that Larry generously sold his company and donated the money to the museum to pay for Audio-Animatronics exhibits – since the museum now opens late, the exhibits can come to life under the guise of “animatronic” figures, including Teddy as a tour guide, Ahkmenrah and Dexter displaying The Tablet, and Attila as a storyteller. Larry is rehired at the museum as the night guard so as to watch over the rest of his friends, and meets a young woman who looks just like Amelia. The film concludes as they talk and walk off as Larry guides her toward The Hall Of Miniatures. Jedediah and Octavius then fly by in a miniature airplane. During the credits, a man from a black and white photo of V-J day in Times Square is seen examining Larry’s Motorola Q cellphone, which Larry left in the photo, and makes a new discovery (for his time period). His mother calls him, and it is revealed that his name is Joey Motorola.

REVIEW:

Does every flick that has a little success automatically get a sequel? It sure seems like it. Following the success of Night at the Museum, a sequel was tossed around and eventually pitched, greenlit, and subsequently released. This is the result.

On the positive side of things, many of the characters that made the first film a success return, as well as some new ones. There isn’t a subplot of Larry trying to prove himself to his son that gets a little bit preachy and took away from the first picture. The mysterious magic that brings things to life is still there, which makes the picture.

On the flipside of things, the film doesn’t have the surprise hit feeling of wonder that its predecessor possesses, but rather comes off as if its trying too hard to surpass it, and fails miserably. Again, we don’t know what it is that cause the magic in the tablet. I kind of wish they’d let us in on the secret. I think this time around, there may have been too many characters, including a the Lincoln Memorial coming to life, which while it was cool, didn’t really make sense. Also, two characters from the first picture, Nicky and Akmenrah, who I figured would have had a bigger part in this one, didn’t. I was a little disappointed in that. When all is said and done, this film seemed to be all about Larry, rather than the characters in the museum.

With the way the first film ended, you’d think this one would pick up right where it left off, but instead Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian fails to deliver on that magic feeling. It is because of this that I think this film wasn’t made to further the story or devlop characters, or whathaveyou, but rather rushed into production so that they could make money. It really is a shame, though. I was hoping this could have improved on the first. Should you see this? Eh…I wouldn’t go so far as to say you HAVE to see it, but it is a nice little picture. If you haven’t seen the first film, it makes it a better experience. Still, it is a pretty good viewing.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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