“This place is waking up for the first time and we have no idea what is out there,” says Larry (Ben Stiller) to Teddy (Robin Williams), Attila the Hun, (Patrick Gallagher), Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek), and the rest of the New York Museum statues who come to life when the sun goes down due to the magic from a mysterious tablet. The gang have sneaked into the British Museum in hopes of fixing the magical tablet that’s quickly losing its powers in the third and final installment of the family, fantasy adventure movie, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.
After a horrible premiere night at the New York Museum of Natural History where all the statues, who are pretending to be special effects, go berserk and almost get him fired, Larry discovers the mysterious tablet that causes all the museum’s pieces of fine art to come alive at night is showing signs of decay and is losing its power. Ahkmenrah tells Larry the only person who knows all the secrets of the tablet is his father, Merenkahre (Ben Kingsley), who’s currently housed in the British Museum in London. Not wanting his friends to go back to being just lifeless pieces of art, Larry and a small band of museum exhibits travel to London and bluff their way past the night security guard, Tilly (Rebel Wilson), to get into the museum with the tablet.
Once inside, Larry and the gang set out to find Merenkahre and learn from him how to fix the tablet. Given that it’s the first time the British Museum artifacts have come to life, they quickly begin creating all kinds of chaos and distractions for Larry, Teddy, Jedediah (Owen Wilson), and the rest of the gang. With only a few hours left, Larry becomes more and more desperate to find Merenkahre before time runs out and his friends become lifeless, motionless statues forever.
Funny, bittersweet, and at times even a bit poignant, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb ends the trilogy with just the right amount of hijinks, magic and heart that the first film had…and perhaps even more. Ben Stiller is back as Larry Daley the divorced, single dad and nighttime security guard and in this third film he’s more mature and capable than in the first two movies. Larry’s determined to save his friends no matter what the cost, and Stiller’s obviously completely comfortable handing the role for this third outing. Stiller also does double duty this time out as a caveman who was made in the image of Larry and who, when he comes alive, believes Larry to be his “Dada” which leads to lots of silly and very funny moments.
It’s extremely difficult not to get a little sad and perhaps choked up when watching Robin Williams, who the world lost far too soon this past summer, reprising his role as Teddy Roosevelt and Larry’s right-hand man. It’s a more subtle and controlled performance by Williams as Teddy fights and faces his fear of becoming a lifeless statue. Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan return once again as Jedediah and Octavius, the tiny Cowboy and Roman soldier who end up going on their own little adventure away from the rest of the group and provide many of the laugh-out-loud moments in this third film of the series.
New to the Museum universe is Ben Kingsley who is pitch perfect as Merenkahre, the Egyptian Pharaoh who knows all the secrets to the tablet but is in no hurry to share. Even Kingsley gets a few funny lines and is entertaining to watch as he banters with Stiller. Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens joins the cast as Sir Lancelot who has just come to life and doesn’t realize he’s really a museum piece as he joins the quest to save the tablet.
The production design and special effects in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb are once again first rate as dinosaurs, lions, serpents, and all kinds of museum artifacts come alive and create chaos. Also, there are a few terrific cameos (which will not be revealed here) to watch for that add even more energy to an already jammed-packed adventure.
Humorous and with plenty of heart, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is a fitting farewell to Larry, Teddy, Jedediah, Octavius, and the rest of the gang from the New York Museum of Natural History.
(Appearing on screen during the end credits: “For Robin Williams – The Magic Never Ends.”)
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is rated PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language.
Running Time: 97 minutes
Release Date: December 19, 2014
– Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
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