In 2006, the world was introduced to the Night at the Museum film series, a cinematic adaptation of Milan Trenc’s 1993 children’s book of the same name. The film focused on Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) and his adventures as a night security guard at New York’s Museum of Natural History. A magical artifact eventually causes the exhibits to come alive and it is then up to Larry to basically survive the night. A sequel, Battle of the Smithsonian was released in 2009 and it continued the plot with Larry trying to survive another night, this time in Washington, D.C.’s famed Smithsonian Institution. A third and final installment, Secret of the Tomb, will be released this year during the holiday season, so the whole family can enjoy one final museum adventure with Larry and the gang.
This time around, Larry must save the magical artifact The Tablet of Ahkmenrah which is dying out and will soon mean the extinction of all the living exhibits. He must venture to a museum in England to unlock the secret of the artifact so that he can save all of the exhibits (and his friends) from certain doom. These friends include Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), cowboy Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Roman warrior Octavius (Steve Coogan), Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), Egyptian prince Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek), Sacagawea (Mizuo Peck) and slaphappy capuchin monkey Dexter (Crystal the Monkey). Refreshing to see all of these characters back again, they are all instrumental in helping Larry complete his mission. Also along for the adventure is Larry’s son Nick played by an annoying Skyler Gisondo.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is more of the same from director Shawn Levy, who helmed the first two Nights. In the hopes of making a complete trilogy, he and 20th Century Fox felt it was necessary to crank out one more film and while occasionally fun and humorous, Night at the Museum 3 is just an uninspired sequel with many familiar moments. Stiller is his usual neurotic self and his living exhibit compadres all provide their own unique personalities especially the late Robin Williams in his one of his last film roles. It’s truly sad to see the great comic on screen and knowing that it is one of his last. He is underused here but his moments on screen are simply priceless.
New addition to the cast is the wildly funny Rebel Wilson, who plays a night security guard at the British museum. She adds her own brand of the humor to the proceedings and it is very welcome, indeed. Dan Stevens also provides some laughs as a way too literal Sir Lancelot. Other highlights include Ben Stiller who plays another role in the film, that of Neanderthal Laa, a caveman who looks like Larry and the “two” of them have some really funny scenes playing off of one another and the visual effects are also worth mentioning as they are really well-done and really showcase the wonder of the artifact.
Basically, the magic and fun are alive and rampant in this well-meaning sequel and it is very kid-friendly. Children will enjoy it throughly and adults will chuckle here and there. Unfortunately though, Secret of the Tomb has been done before… twice, and staleness is very apparent. It is obvious that this was just another big-budget studio moneymaker and 20th Century Fox will prosper because of this. While a cute and relatively enjoyable film, let’s hope after this installment, the museum will remain closed.