Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect strong visuals here.
At almost all times, sharpness seemed solid. The only minor softness resulted from effects shots; in particular, scenes with Ben Stiller in two roles could be a smidgen fuzzy. Otherwise, this was a tight, well-defined image. No issues with shimmering or jaggies occurred, and I saw no edge haloes or digital problems. Print flaws also failed to mar the presentation.
While Tomb opted for a standard teal and orange feel, those hues didn’t overwhelm. Even with those in the forefront, the movie still managed enough variety to provide satisfying colors. Blacks were tight and dark, and low-light shots displayed positive delineation. Everything here worked well.
In addition, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack fired on all cylinders. With so much action, the soundscape boasted plenty of auditory excitement, and the mix exploited those opportunities well. Creatures and drama emanated from all the speakers and combined to create a lively, involving sense of place. All of this ensured a vivid sonic impression.
Audio quality satisfied. Music was rich and full, and speech sounded natural and concise. Effects provided accurate, dynamic elements without distortion. I felt pleased with this terrific soundtrack.
As we shift to the set’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Shawn Levy. He offers a running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, visual effects, cast and performances, sets and locations, music and audio, editing, deleted scenes, and basic trivia.
A veteran of many commentaries, I enjoy Levy’s chats. While he maintains a positive attitude and praises all involved, he never seems obsequious or disingenuous; he displays a likable enthusiasm that ensures he doesn’t just slather on the praise.
Levy also manages to tell us a ton about the production. He seems happy to reveal “secrets” and he digs into many good notes about all the relevant areas. Levy’s Tomb commentary becomes engaging and informative.
Seven Deleted/Extended Scenes fill a total of 14 minutes, 13 seconds. Much of the cut material falls under the umbrella of unnecessary explanation, mostly related to Dr. McPhee and the NYC Museum. Though they would’ve made the movie drag, they’re fun, largely due to Ricky Gervais, and they also expand Rachael Harris’s non-existent part as the museum’s chair into something a little meatier.
Though not billed as such, one of the scenes offers an alternate ending. It’s an interesting choice, and because it’s more subtle than the actual finale, I feel like I should prefer it. However, I don’t, as I think the existing ending feels more satisfying.
After this we locate a bunch of featurettes. Improv, Absurdity and Cracking Up – The Comedy of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb runs eight minutes, five seconds and offers notes from Levy and actors Ben Stiller, Ricky Gervais, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Dan Stevens, Rebel Wilson, Rami Malek, Patrick Gallagher and Mizuo Peck. We see various improvised moments from the shoot. Some of this devolves into praise for the talents of those involved, but we get a lot of fun alternate lines from the actors.
During the 12-minute, nine-second The Theory of Relativity, we hear from Levy, VFX supervisors Swen Gillberg and Erik Nash, executive producer/1st AD Josh McLaglen, editor Dean Zimmerman, 2nd AD Maria Battle-Campbell and stunt coordinator/2nd AD Brad Martin. The program examines the challenges involved with a scene that takes place in the world of MC Escher’s art. “Theory” offers a tight, informative overview of the various elements required here.
Stiller’s double-role comes to the fore in Becoming Laaa. During the seven-minute, 24-second piece, we locate details from Levy, Stiller, Wilson and screenwriters Michael Handleman and David Guion. We find out how those involved used movie magic to allow Stiller to play against himself. Like “Theory”, we learn a lot of nice notes, and I love the shots of Levy as he acts out parts against Stiller.
Next comes A Day in the Afterlife. In this 16-minute, 26-second show, we get comments from Levy, Stiller, Stevens, “Ahkmenrah” and “Craig the Mummy”. “Day” pretends that Ahkmenrah’s undead buddy “Craig” weaseled his way onto the shoot and proceeded to annoy everybody. Parts of it amuse, but it runs way too long.
One of the movie’s real-life locations takes center stage in The Home of History: Behind the Scenes of the British Museum. The featurette goes for 21 minutes, 24 seconds and involves Levy, Stiller, Stevens, British Museum Head of Security and Visitor Services David Bilson, British Museum Deputy Director Jonathan Williams, British Museum Ancient Egypt and Sudan Keeper Neal Spencer, British Museum Medieval Collections Curator Naomi Speakman, Briitish Museum Ming China Exhibition Curator Yu-Ping Luk, British Museum Ancient Greece Senior Curator Ian Jenkins, British Museum Enlightenment Gallery Manager Janet Larkin, British Museum South and Southeast Asian Collections Curator Richard Blurton, British Museum Oceania Curator Natasha McKinney, British Museum Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan Assistant Keeper John Taylor, and actor Skyler Gisondo.
We get information on the British Museum, with an emphasis on ways the actual site connects to the movie. Though this occasionally feels like a promo, we mostly find a good collection of thoughts about the location.
Fight at the Museum lasts six minutes, 22 seconds and delivers details from Levy, Stevens, Martin, and Nash. As implied by the title, the short gives us notes about one of the movie’s fight sequences. It delivers another interesting piece.
Finally, we get the three-minute, 10-second Creating the Visual Effects. It lacks narration as it instead shows “before and after” shots that let us see how effects got added to the original photography. Some commentary would’ve been nice, but this still can be a nice glimpse at the stages involved.
Under Gallery, we get two subdomains. “Photos” shows 11 shots from the film, and “Pre-Vis” brings us 12 examples of concept art. The latter offers some interesting material, but “Photos” seems like a bore.
The disc opens with ads for Peanuts, The Penguins of Madagascar and Russell Madness. We also find two trailers for Tomb itself.
A second disc presents a DVD Copy of Tomb. It includes two of the deleted/extended scenes, the gallery, the “Comedy” featurette, the trailers and the previews. All of the other extras remain exclusive to the Blu-ray.
After a lackluster second film, the Night at the Museum franchise becomes fun again with the amusing Secret of the Tomb. The movie packs a lot of laughs and excitement to finish the series on a high note. The Blu-ray brings us excellent picture and audio as well as an informative set of supplements. Tomb might be my favorite of the three Night at the Museum films, as it offers a delightful ride.