DVD releases / Dec. 1

  • Friday, November 27, 2009 12:01am
  • Life

“A Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”

The Smithsonian Institution gives a fantastic performance in Ben Stiller’s new family comedy; the museum sparkles, but the movie is awfully dull.

Last seen wowing his son by handling the late-night shenanigans at the Museum of Natural History, onetime night guard Larry Daley (Stiller) is now a CEO. On one of his visits back to the museum, he learns that most of his moonlight pals — Dexter the capuchin and belligerent tiny cowboy Jedediah (Owen Wilson) among them — are being shipped away.

Stiller underplays a little too much. It’s not nearly as much fun to watch him coolly face down a dozen spear-toting warriors as it was to watch him screaming and running from a T. rex.

Rated: PG for mild action and brief language

“Paper Heart”

Something cold and calculating beats at the center of this ingratiating, mostly mock documentary by comedian and actress Charlyne Yi (“Knocked Up”).

A shy, bespectacled tomboy, Yi announces at the beginning of the movie that she doesn’t believe in love, then sets off with a film crew across the American South to interview real-life couples about their long-term, failed and budding relationships. (Yi’s director, Nicholas Jasenovec, is played in the film by Jake Johnson.)

Rated: PG-13 for profanity

“Terminator: Salvation”

The latest installment in the “Terminator” series offers towering mechanical assassins; writhing, chrome-plated centipedes; humans engaged in an epic battle, all in a movie that mixes blockbuster hysterics with moody, visual grit.

Director McG picks up the pre-apocalyptic cue from “T3” and drops us in 2018, with the machines of the malevolent Skynet well into their campaign against humankind.

Leader-to-be of the human rebellion John Connor (Christian Bale) is an insubordinate lieutenant but has been prophesied to be the savior of humankind.

The film takes itself far more seriously than its predecessors. That might have come off as pretentious but instead seems believable — as believable as a movie can be, anyway, when it’s about besieged humanity, occupational forces, rebel insurgencies, torture, lawlessness and warfare by remote control.

Rated: PG-13 for vulgarity, intense action and violence

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