Ben Stiller leads an all-star cast including Robin Williams and Dick Van Dyke in this hilarious
blockbuster hit. When good-hearted dreamer Larry Daley (Stiller) is hired as night watchman at
the Museum of Natural History, he soon discovers that an ancient curse brings all the exhibits
to life after the sun sets. Suddenly, Larry finds himself face-to-face with a frisky T. rex
skeleton, tiny armies of Romans and cowboys and a mischievous monkey who taunts him to
the breaking point. But with the help of President Teddy Roosevelt (Williams), Larry may just
figure out a way to control the chaos and become a hero in his son's eyes. Boasting jaw-
dropping special effects and laugh-out-loud moments, Night At The Museum is your ticket to
For more about Night at the Museum and the Night at the Museum Blu-ray release, see Night at the Museum Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on August 5, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Ben Stiller has always been a bit of a Hollywood chameleon. While he considers himself a director first and foremost, it's his comedy roles that have defined him to audiences across the globe. His previous credits have veered more into the slapstick and gross-out genres of comedy, so it is a bit of a surprise to find him front and center in the lead role of a big-budget family comedy.
Night at the Museum follows the misadventures of one Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) as he attempts to right his life after a painful divorce. Larry's son, Nick (Jake Cherry) seems to have latched on to his new stepfather (Paul Rudd) and has left his poor old Dad by the wayside. Larry is a bit of a wanderer and has had a difficult time holding down his various jobs. So, with a little pressure from his ex-wife (Kim Raver) and a desire to not alienate his son, Larry takes a job as a night watchman at the New York Museum of Natural History. His first night on the job will reveal that the exhibits at the museum are brought to life by the mystical powers of an ancient Egyptian tablet.
Ben Stiller comes face to face with one of his new work buddies.
One of the criteria I look for in a family film, is that it is capable of entertaining the adults in the audience as well as the kids. While I have no doubt that children will love this film, I found myself a little bored through most of it. Unsurprisingly, Night at the Museum veers into silly, slapstick territory frequently - - that's where I found myself the most uninterested. However, when the film actually takes the time to develop the characters and gets to the heart of the story, it can be very warm and occasionally quite smart. There are plenty of likable actors in the film, with Mr. Stiller being at the forefront. Fun little cameos from Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan and a surprisingly effective performance from Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt also add to the finer points of Night at the Museum. Unfortunately, besides these few bright spots, the film was, on the whole, a bit tiring. How many times can a tyrannosaurus rex skeleton playing fetch be entertaining?
Night at the Museum is also a bit of a mixed bag regarding its video transfer. Many of the special effects shots have a very artificial look to them and I found the entire film to have a very strange grittiness to it. The picture quality varies from extremely slick to downright nasty. Grain is heavy throughout and contrast varies considerably from shot to shot. Colors are also strangely rendered with a decided lack of consistency throughout the movie. Mr. Stiller is perhaps the most ill-treated character in the film as his skin tone changes repeatedly throughout. He is occasionally very splotchy and pale and at other times he looks like he's been in a tanning bed for about a week. It's really quite distracting. On the brighter side, fine detail can be exceptional and I didn't notice even the slightest trace of banding. I'm torn as how to rate Night at the Museum, as I didn't experience the film theatrically. Perhaps the massive amount of effects work in the film affected its final picture, but I have to believe that problems of this magnitude would have been fixed in post-production.
The audio on Night at the Museum is another story altogether. Presented in DTS Master Audio (which isn't supported on even a single Blu-ray player on the market today), the 1.5 Mbs core DTS track is a real treat. Dialog is well represented with crisp highs and nice articulation. Some segments of the film's dialog were ever so slightly muddy. Hopefully this will be remedied when players that support the DTS Master Audio format are made available. Regardless, surround activity in this action-heavy film is wonderful to behold with a fantastic sense of dimensionality and an engaging mix that really catapults the viewer into the action. Overall, this film is a great example of the limitations of compressed audio formats. Even with the obvious strengths that this track contains, it still is begging for more clarity and spatial effect. I'll revisit this film's audio presentation when DTS Master Audio hardware is made available to consumers.
-Commentary by Director Shawn Levy – this is a pretty entertaining track with Mr. Levy delivering many enthusiastic anecdotes regarding the production of the film. < i>Night at the Museum is a real labor of love for Mr. Levy and his enthusiasm for the project is apparent.
-Commentary from Screenwriters Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon – Skip this one. These two just don't have much of interest to contribute to this commentary.
Night at the Museum is a family film that is sure to entertain the kiddies, but might just put adults to sleep. I wish the story had focused less on slapstick humor and had tried to build on some of the more intelligent aspects of the story. At any rate, the video presentation is somewhat problematic with some serious visual defects. The audio, however, is more in line with what to expect from Blu-ray. I can't wait to hear how this one sounds when I'm finally able to listen to a DTS Master Audio track. All in all, I can't completely recommend this Blu-ray disc. If you have kids, however, watching this one is more than likely unavoidable!
Night at the Museum: Other Editions
3-disc set $13.55
Blu-ray bundles with Night at the Museum (6 bundles)
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Amazon's current Blu-ray Boxed Set of the Week is for Night at the Museum Collection (comprised of Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian), which can now be had for $18.99 (53% off MSRP, or $9.5 per movie). This is the cheapest this ...