Director: Shawn Levy
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, Dan Stevens, Rebel Wilson
Written by: (also story) David Guion, Michael Handelman, (story) Mark Friedman, (based on the characters created) Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant
Running Time: 97 mins
Release date: 19th December 2014
If you are going to make a sequel (or third film), you can go down two paths. You can change everything you know about the series and give it a new lease of life or you can stick to the same formula that made the series successful in the first place and only change little moments. That is exactly what the makers of the third in the Night At The Museum makers have done: brought back the original cast, thrown in a few new characters to spice things up and more location, although you wouldn’t really notice. What do you have? Well, you have a familiar film that is still fun only this time with a tinge of sadness.
The Tablet of Ahkmenrah, the object that gives the exhibits in the museum their power to live, is slowly dying. Larry has to find the secret of the tablet and so, along with a handful of his friends, head off to London on a quest to rejuvenate it. There they come face to face with a whole new set of problems, none more so than Sir Lancelot, who doesn’t understand the truth about the power source.
Director Shawn Levy has touched nothing to upset the apple cart. This is a safe, predictable yet surprisingly funny entry into the series and, from what the makers tell us, the last time we are entering into this world (just wait for the countless direct to DVD sequels with low-rent cast replacements). So starting off with a pre-credit sequence straight out of the Indiana Jones series, where we are told about how the Tablet was found and the warning that went with it, we are then transported back to the New York Museum and re-introduced to all those characters we have come to know and love.
Moving the gang from New York to London doesn’t make too much of a difference. You would only know we were in England by the shots of famous landmarks and The Clash singing London’s Calling, the favourite for American film makers so the audience know exactly where we are. Most of the film is supposedly inside the British Museum (actually a studio in Canada) but they could have quite easily stayed at home.
The jokes hit and miss the targets pretty much at the same amount as the past films, although the inclusion of Sir Lancelot does provide the film with a hilarious sequence at the London Palladium in which a special cameo appearance (I won’t give it away) shows us just how much he doesn’t mind a bit of self-mockery.
The performances are all fine for this fare. Ben Stiller gets an extra dimension to his Larry the night guard character by playing a Neanderthal called Laaa (who does have a a passing resemblance to Tom Cruise). Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan get more of the slice this time as the tiny cowboy and roman leader, with a funny take on the YouTube society and Dan Stevens brings plenty of fun as Sir Lancelot. Only Rebel Wilson as a British security guard fails to bring the laughs with her awful British accent.
The film does have a sad undertone with a brief appearance from Mickey Rooney and the final time we will see Robin Williams on screen reprising his role of Theodore Roosevelt. Even though this might not be his crowning glory, it still brought a tear to the eye as the film came to an end and we say a final farewell (the dedication at the end managed to bring a lump to the throat).
Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb is perfect holiday fare with enough for the kids to enjoy and for the adults to appreciate. The special effects are as good as they usually are and there’s enough peril and excitement to give the little ones something to cheer about. It might be light and empty and afraid to try anything different but as the saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!