Sunday 4 January 2015

Film Review: Night at the Museum - Secret of the Tomb

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is the third and final film into the family film series and sees Ben Stiller reprise his role as Larry Daley, a night guard at the Museum of Natural History in New York who protects the exhibits that come to life during the night.

In this third entry, Larry and the various exhibits must travel to London and unravel the secret behind the magic artefact that gives them life, the tablet of Ahkmenrah. The tablet is losing power with every passing moment causing exhibits such as Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Octavius (Steve Coogan) and Ahkmenrah himself (Rami Malek) to weaken and revert back to their daytime waxwork selves.

Whilst it's not the most inspired send-off for the trilogy, Secret of the Tomb does have its moments which combine to form a sporadically entertaining family adventure. I did enjoy the film, but I'm also glad they're leaving the dust to settle on this series.

Ben Stiller (who plays the protagonist Larry as well as Neanderthal waxwork Laaa) is pretty good in the lead role and quickly settles into his usual deadpan demeanour. There are some really great physical moments of slapstick comedy where Stiller becomes more animated, but for the most part this is a fairly reserved performance from him.

This is mainly because the wackiness sprouts from the supporting cast, many of whom are regulars with the series. Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan are a highlight as a miniature cowboy and centurion, providing many of the laughs and witty one-liners.

Ricky Gervais crops up once again as the museum curator Dr. McPhee and, despite having a fairly small part to play, actually stuck around as being the most annoying character. I'm usually a big fan of Gervais' brand of comedy but felt he overacted this part and relied too heavily on silly voices and general squeakiness.

Rebel Wilson joins the cast as Tilly, the British night guard Larry must bypass in London. She's actually pretty funny and has some great scenes with Stiller (as both Larry and Laaa). Another newcomer is Dan Stevens as Sir Lancelot. He starts out as the group's helpful aide, but soon transforms into the primary antagonist.

The main problem with this is that it doesn't take shape until well into the third act by which point the plot is starting to lose steam. Secret of the Tomb lacks a bonafide villain for the entire first half, drawing away from this sense of urgency or danger. Then, to cap it all off, Lancelot's arc was rushed and contrived. I also found that the conclusion was tonally inconsistent, trying to blend both emotional dialogue and silly sight gags together with mixed results.

There are a couple of really cool cameos near the end of the film which I won't reveal here - it's worth not knowing and finding out for yourself. This scene livened up the whole movie and made the audience smile and laugh a whole lot more - it's short-lived, but a great inclusion. This was probably because it doesn't fit within the framework of the series, but by breaking from convention it actually improved the show.

Secret of the Tomb serves as a final send-off for two cherished actors who sadly passed away since it was filmed - Mickey Rooney and Robin Williams. The former sadly has minimal screen-time near the start of the film, but Williams has a large role to play and delivers a brilliant performance that brightens the whole film.

The final scene he shares with Stiller is impactful stuff - as Roosevelt and Larry say their farewells it almost feels as though Williams is also farewelling the audience. Even then Williams is the life of the party - right until the final credits he is making the audience laugh and is larger than life.

The Verdict: 6/10

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is a mismatched final entry into the trilogy - the visuals are slick and approachable for kids whilst the characters are a bag of jumbled caricatures that will entertain sporadically. Wilson (both Owen and Rebel) are funny whilst Gervais is a little OTT.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is in cinemas now.


  1. I love reading your reviews! You definitely know what factor is a thumbs up, and which part of a film needs improvement. It must've taken you quite some time to check all those details, and to sweep everything from start to finish. Anyway, I’ll be looking forward to your future reviews. Cheers!

    Simon Walker @ The Viewlorium

    1. Thanks man! Be sure to keep checking back for more new release reviews and features! :)

  2. Night at the Museum III never really works as a whole. Instead, it makes for a suitably diverting showcase for an all-star cast who seem to be having a great deal of fun working together. The result is unspectacular, but also inoffensive.

    1. Not a bad summary Thomas! :) Thanks for commenting.



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