Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Dick Van Dyke, Steve Coogan, Dan Stevens
If you thought that this tale of a magical Tablet bringing museum mannequins to life at night had run its course by now then… quite frankly you’d be right. With a plot that shamelessly draws on the same themes and ideas of the previous instalments, there’s very little that’s new about the third and final part of this rather forgetful franchise. And yet, it’s unlikely that you’ll come away from Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb without a great big smile plastered across your face.
This time night watchman Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) and his gang of walking waxworks have headed to the British Museum in London on a mission to stop the magical Tablet of Ahkmenrah from loosing its powers. However, their quest is jeopardized by the arrival of the institution’s resident Knight in Shining Armour, Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens).
Returning to the series following his flimsy attempt at a serious film, the trite and tedious This Is Where I Leave You, director Shawn Levy finds himself on much firmer ground here. His filmmaking fizzles with vim and vigour. As with the second film, Secret of the Tomb benefits from a looser narrative structure to that of the original, which affords it a steadier pace. Though the Manhattan-set start is comparatively weak, weighed down by clunky and excessive amounts of exposition, once the action arrives in London the film finds much more strength.
Levy’s depiction of our Nation’s Capital does reek of irritating romanticism, and comes complete with ‘The Clash’ playing on the soundtrack. But the location at least allows for some playful set pieces, including one particularly inspired confrontation with the Lions of Trafalgar Square. As ever, the special effects are seamless and superb.
With the titular secret barely alluded to throughout, it’s likely that the lack of mystery or intrigue will frustrate older viewers. But that shouldn’t put them off as there’s still enough charm and charisma to hold their interest. David Guion and Michael Handelman’s script may not be fresh, but it is fun, and has just enough witty one-liners to keep all ages giggling throughout.
As with the Battle of the Smithsonian though, it’s the ever-expanding cast that chiefly holds your interest. Of the newcomers it’s Dan Stevens, in particular, who lights up the screen as Sir Lancelot, shining like a silver blade that’s reflecting the sun. While Rebel Wilson, to her credit, manages to make the most of what is quite a thankless role.
Perhaps inevitably though, its Robin Williams’ joyously exuberant final performance that lingers in the memory and even instils the film with an unexpected poignancy during his last scene. As the sun starts to rise following this franchise’s final night, his star is the one that continues to twinkle in the sky.