Ben Stiller again proves why he is one of Hollywood's most bankable actors.
At 110 minutes this movie is simply too long.
Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is having all kinds of problems. His ex-wife thinks he's a loser, his son is starting to have doubts about his old man, and even Larry is beginning to wonder if following his dreams is still the best course of action. So he decides to take any job he can get. This lands him the duties as a night watchmen in the Museum of Natural History. The job seems easy enough until Larry comes to realize that this place is cursed. He doesn't just hear weird noises throughout the night, he sees things that nobody could ever imagine.
In short, the museum comes alive.
Yes, you read that correctly. The exhibits come to life and suddenly lovable Larry is reliving some of the most interesting and deadly events in history. From the Civil War, to Attila the Hun, to battling a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Larry certainly has his work cut out for him. However, amidst all this chaos Larry finds out that if any of the priceless artifacts in the museum get touched by daylight they will turn to dust. So, with a little help from a replica of President Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Larry makes it his mission to preserve the museum.
Night at the Museum is an uplifting family film that shows us how sometimes, when we adjust our focus in how we believe in ourselves, we end up doing greater things than we could ever imagine.
Two commentary tracks make up this section. There is one with Director Shawn Levy and then another one with the film's Writers Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon. I chose to listen to the one with Shawn Levy only mainly because I didn't know anything about him. He discussed the "genesis" of the project, how it was based on a book and that it'd been circulating for 10 years prior. Levy talks about backing actor Dick Van Dyke when other people didn't think he could pull this role off, the camerawork from Cinematographer Guillermo Navarro, and how open Ben Stiller was to changing up the script at a moments notice.
2.35:1 - Widescreen. MPEG-2. I was glad to get to screen this movie on Blu-ray disc because I found that the Standard Version looked so good. While I thought that things looked pretty good here, for the most part it wasn't too much different than how things looked on my standard DVD. Things were a bit sharper, with the mix of dark and on set lighting giving this movie a lush look. While it might contrast with the the zany, slapstick subject matter of the movie, it is nevertheless impressive. The effects in the film are where this DVDs bread and butter are. Blu-ray disc is so clear that it could magnify the effects if they weren't done pristinely. That isn't a problem here.
DTS HD 5.1. The audio on this movie was great. It seemed to be leveled awesomely as I heard it coming out of my speakers. It makes this movie a very full experience (and I thought it was full in the standard format). In the film, when the Museum comes alive, you really feel it. You hear every nuance of every particle of sound that is coming through your speakers (depending on where they are positioned in the room). I would say when you watch this film on Blu-ray, turn your system up a little louder than you might normally. Doing this will increase the fullness of your viewing experience immensely.
The front cover on this Blu-ray disc features a shot of Ben Stiller shining his flashlight around the museum. The back cover serves up a tiny description of this film, some shots from the movie, a Special Features list and a some system specs. What surprises me the most about this release is that this disc technically has more space than the Standard Version, yet, Special Features-wise it comes with a lot less.
My only complaint with Night at the Museum is that I feel for a children's film it is a tad too long. The subject matter is light but at the same time this movie is filled with a solid message and great effects. It isn't like Larry's life becomes perfect at the end of this film. Despite how family friendly this movie plays it doesn't soften the blow of Larry's life. However, in seeing him take care of the museum we get to see a man become responsible. Stiller has Larry grow up but not abandon everything that he is. Also, this film showcases some of Ben Stiller's best physical comedy. It is easy to see why audiences like him. He puts forth a brand of humor that older audiences seem to like, yet he falls over himself enough to make the younger audience members laugh.
While there aren't any real surprises with Night at the Museum, this movie works because, like it's main character, it doesn't ever deviate from being what it ultimately is.
Night at the Museum was released October 20, 2006.