Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb Review

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night at the museum: secret of the tomb reviewRating: 5.5 out of 10

Cast:
Ben Stiller as Larry Daley
Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt
Owen Wilson as Jedediah
Steve Coogan as Octavius
Ricky Gervais as Dr. McPhee
Dan Stevens as Sir Lancelot
Rebel Wilson as Tilly
Skyler Gisondo as Nick Daley
Rami Malek as Ahkmenrah
Patrick Gallagher as Attila the Hun
Mizuo Peck as Sacajawea
Ben Kingsley as Merenkahre
Crystal the Monkey as Dexter
Dick Van Dyke as Cecil
Mickey Rooney as Gus

Directed by Shawn Levy

Summary:
While the London setting offers up a few new treats, “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” is generally more of the same from the previous two films. Kids will enjoy it, but adults may be bored.

Story:
This is the third film in the “Night at the Museum” trilogy.

Larry is enjoying his job at the museum as he continues to expand the roles of the magically animated displays at night. World renown as a special effects filled night program, new constellation displays have been added to the planetarium. However, something goes wrong and Teddy, Jedediah, Attila, Dexter and the other displays go nuts and start attacking guests. Upon investigation, Larry discovers that the ancient tablet that brings them all to life is slowly corroding away.

Ahkmenrah reveals that the only one who knows how to restore the tablet is his father, Merenkahre. However he’s on display in the British Museum of Natural History. Soon enough, Larry, his son Nick, and several of the re-animated characters make their way to London. But when the British Museum comes to life for the first time, a whole new group of friends and foes face our heroes as time to save them all runs out.

“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” is rated PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language.

What Worked:
If you liked the previous “Night at the Museum” films, you or your kids may enjoy this one. It’s more of the same, which is good in some respects and bad in others. But it does offer enough new tricks to remain somewhat entertaining.

The new setting of the British Museum in London offers up a lot of new animated artifacts. We see headless and limbless statues from Greece come alive like zombies. We see golden statues from Asia and India dance through the halls. We see medieval artifacts, animated M.C. Escher paintings, and Pompeii exhibits. It does give it a somewhat unique feel from the previous films.

But this film isn’t confined to the museum alone. When a character runs through the streets of London with the tablet, we get to see a bit of Trafalgar Square, the theatrical scene, and more. This is when the movie begins to feel a bit fresher, but it is relatively short-lived.

Ben Stiller returns as Larry Daley. While he seems like he’s bored to be in this movie in most scenes, he is allowed to spice things up by playing a Neanderthal version of himself. It’s one of the few times that Stiller seems like he’s having fun in this movie. Surprisingly, Skyler Gisondo stands out as his son Nick Daley. Having graduated from high school, the whole magic thing is old hat to him and he just wants to travel the world, party, and DJ. His interactions with Stiller are some of the more entertaining character moments in the film. Rebel Wilson is best taken in small doses, and she does a pretty good job as the British security guard Tilly. Her interaction with Stiller’s Neanderthal is fun. Ironically, Ben Kingsley has a minor role as Merenkahre, the Egyptian Pharoah. Considering he’s also on the big screen in theaters right now as a Jewish slave in “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” this is ironic. Finally, Dan Stevens adds a bit of energy to the cast as Sir Lancelot. He’s one of the better additions to the series.

However, the best moment in the film involved a cameo by an A-list actor. I won’t spoil it here, but his un-credited cameo in the movie is the undeniable highlight of this sequel. It was funny and unexpected and a big treat for comic book movie fans.

What Didn’t Work:
While “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” has a few highlights, overall it very much has a feel of “been there, done that.” It’s very formulaic and doesn’t break new ground like it could have. The tablet brings displays to life, Larry fights them or befriends them, there is a minor conflict over the tablet, and then there’s a happy ending. The only thing that is changing is the setting and how many times the monkey slaps Larry. I think there were opportunities to do some new things with the concept, but the creators opted to play it safe. That’s fine for kids, but adults may be looking for more.

On another note, it’s really sad to see Robin Williams in this film after his recent tragic suicide. He’s relegated to the background of most of this movie, and when he is on the screen he doesn’t look like his usual energetic self. In fact, he mostly laments about dying as the tablet loses its power. It’s a terrible, depressing reminder of his loss for adults, but kids more than likely won’t have a clue.

The Bottom Line:
If you need to entertain kids for a while over the holidays or are a big fan of this series, it’s worth checking out in the theater. But if you’re looking for something new, you’ll likely be disappointed. Wait and watch it on TV.