IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 97 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
1938, Egypt: a team of archaeologists are digging into a tomb. A young boy falls through a hole that leads his father and the others to what they came for – the Tablet of Ahkmenrah. Several local men see the tablet and say: “The end will come”. New York City, Present Day: a big event is going on at the Museum of Natural History overseen by Larry Daley, but the tablet is starting to corrode, causing all the exhibits to run amuck. Larry sees a picture of the boy who found the tablet and learns it’s Cecil Fredericks, the former museum security guard that once tried to steal it. Larry finds Cecil and is advised that he go to the British Museum in London to see if Ahkmenrah’s parents can fix the tablet…
This has been touted as the last film in the Night At The Museum franchise and I guess it will be now Robin Williams, whose Teddy Roosevelt was one of its highlights, is no longer with us, though a spinoff featuring Owen Wilson’s Jedediah and Steve Coogan’s Octavius was mooted a while back and I still hope will happen, as those two are possibly my favourite thing about these films, the two actors working brilliantly together. An early scene in this film showing how the tiny twosome would be able to comment on a Facebook video is one of the funniest scenes of the year. In any case, I’ll be sad to see this franchise end as I have a real soft spot for it, the movies being based on a great premise and, at least when they’re at their best, being entertainingly off the wall and genuinely funny as well as providing just a bit of history for the kiddies, though to be honest this final instalment isn’t quite as amusing as the first two and at times feels a bit restrained [a fight in an MC Escher drawing notwithstanding], while a scene where Larry and his exhibit pals wonder through the British Museum as the exhibits in it start coming to life made me think what a great scary movie could be made from the same basic premise as these films.
Of course said premise is also quite limited and new ideas are in short supply here, as are new characters, though Dan Steven’s arrogant Sir Lancelot is a great creation, if obviously modelled on Buzz Lightyear, and gets a hilarious scene where he interrupts Hugh Jackman in a production of Camelot. The climax seems to be over before it begins – no big thrilling ending here – but the lengthy code, touching and rather downbeat, works very well and gives some heart to the shenanigans. A sub-plot of Larry not getting on well with his son feels clumsily inserted and both Stiller and, sadly, Williams, both seem a little tired, though the latter’s farewell scene seems especially sad considering we will never see the man on cinema screens again. Mickey Rooney also has his final screen appearance here as one of the three old security guards from the first film. Meanwhile Rebel Wilson does her usual shtick [okay in small doses] and shares some fairly amusing scenes with Stiller playing one of Larry’s caveman ancestors. Director Shawn Levy shows his action chops cutting back and forth from Jedediah and Octavius running from lava in a model of Pompeii to the rest of the main characters battling a Chinese dragon, though he’s hampered a bit by poor CGI. If not quite as good as the first two films, Night At The Museum: The Secret Of The Tomb is still solid family fun that provides plenty of entertainment for the kiddies and just about enough for the adults too.