Movie Review: Night At The Museum 3: Secret Of The Tomb

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(Copyright: 20th Century Fox, the
film publisher or graphic artist.)

Written By: Mark Armstrong

Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Production Companies: 21 Laps Entertainment and 1492 Pictures
Director: Shawn Levy
Producers: Shawn Levy, Chris Columbus and Mark Radcliffe
Scriptwriters: David Guion and Michael Handelman
Main Cast: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Dan Stevens, Ben Kingsley, Mickey Rooney and Ricky Gervais
Released: December 19, 2014
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Certificate: PG

I have found that, if you are planning to see a movie which acts as part of a series, it helps to watch the films in chronological order, otherwise it may get a little confusing to understand what is going on. That definitely applies with the third instalment of Night Of The Museum: although I was a little familiar with the trilogy and its basic elements, this was the first of the NOTM movies that I had actually seen, and it took me some time as a newcomer to the franchise to get to grips with the characters and situations. Once I had overcome these, however, the story began to make sense (well, within the parameters of this film, anyway).

A flashback to Egypt in 1938 sees the discovery of the tablet of Ahkmenrah by an archaeologist and his son, but before they can take it away, they are strongly warned that “the end will come” if they do so. Back in the modern day, a nighttime event at the Museum Of National History in New York City goes disastrously wrong (in a humorous way) when the exhibits that have come to life act abnormally (had I been familiar with the movies, I would not have found it strange that the exhibits were alive in the first place with it not being treated as unusual); we soon learn that this is connected to the aforementioned tablet.

Larry Daley (Ben Stiller), who is responsible for the exhibits, conducts some research and meets Cecil Fredericks (Dick Van Dyke), who is now long grown up but was the young boy who originally tried to take the tablet in Egypt, and learns that the message referred to the end of magic, something which would have a detrimental effect on the after-hours existence of the exhibits. And it becomes apparent that the tablet is corroding, hence the strange behaviour of the exhibits at the aforementioned event. A consultation with Dr. McPhee (Ricky Gervais), who is being fired, results in Larry travelling to London and to the British Museum, where Ahkmenrah’s parents are and where it is hoped that the problems that the tablet is causing can be resolved.

In the meantime, we see problems in the father-son relationship between Larry and his child Nicky, who is rejecting advice that he go to college and is instead looking to carve out a career as a DJ. Hoping that the trip to the UK may help them to bond, Larry allows Nicky to come along with him, but unbeknownst to Larry, most (if not all) of the other exhibits travel over as well. And chaos soon ensues when it becomes clear that getting the tablet to Ahkmenrah’s parents is not as easy as it seems. Both on the outside and the inside of the British Museum, there are human obstacles, but it seems that they have an ally in their quest to bring the tablet to its rightful home in the form of Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens). There is an initial confrontation but it is resolved and all involved are on the same page … or are they? And how will the developments to come affect the outcome of a mission which, if unresolved, could see all the exhibits return to a state of non-existence? And will the father-son difference of opinions have a happy ending?

The movie is notable for being the last movie to star Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney; both are cast here as Theodore Roosevelt and Gus respectively, but both passed away before it was released. As such, the film credits include separate tributes to both actors.

This is a film aimed at families and children (hence the PG rating), so it stands to reason that much of the humour is of the nature which would appeal to and be acceptable for kids. Given those barometers, I still found that the movie was enjoyable enough that adults should gleam a decent amount of entertainment from it. Without trying to provide a major spoiler, I will say that as a lifelong Liverpool FC fan, I for one appreciated the inclusion of an LFC mug during one scene at the British Museum (actually, it’s in two scenes, but it’s clearly a case of them being separated into two parts rather than being two different scenes). If you’re a Kopite watching this movie, keep your eye out for that one!

As I said earlier, it really does help to have seen the previous two entries in the trilogy before watching this film, as a lot of things would then make a lot more sense. Otherwise, I would categorise as a fairly good, but by no means a classic, comedy adventure movie which a family with young kids should enjoy. And it has a star-studded cast which never hurts, as well as a parade of unusual and interesting characters.

So, if you are debating whether or not to watch Night Of The Museum 3: Secret Of The Tomb, I would suggest that you give it a try, but don’t expect too much from it. And if you watch films one and two first, you’ll understand movie number three a lot more.

Overall Rating: 6/10 – Reasonable