Sunday, 17 May 2015

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Like the titles, this series of films just doesn’t know when to stop. As happens so frequently with franchises, what started as a great concept quickly becomes over used and boring. Transformers did it, Jaws did it, hell, even Indiana Jones managed to do it. Not to say that Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian was terrible, it just wasn’t as good as the first. And now, the third isn’t as good as the second. 

Directed by Shawn Levy and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is now running a night-time show in a history museum in America. Labelled as a “special effects” show, Daley curates a show in which all the exhibits come to life, and when it matters most, things start to get out of hand. When the problem is identified, the magical tablet is slowly dying, Daley must take his gang of animated exhibits to London to find the only man who can help – Akhmenrah’s father, Merenkahre. As has been the case, if it isn’t fixed by daybreak, they’re all screwed.

Not a terrible plot. It’s nice to exchange America for somewhere else, but if you were hoping for some sightseeing or “I’ve been there” moments you’re out of luck and it isn’t often alluded to that they are actually in London. That being said, it offers up some healthy doses of new characters – such as Dan Stevens as Sir Lancelot, or Rebel Wilson as the security guard who will do everything to be an annoyance. Also thrown into the mix is Sir Ben Kingsley as Merenkahre, who, as always, offers up style and sophistication. And it would be wrong not to mention Robin Williams as it was his last ever performance. What can I say – the man is as consistent and heart-warming as tomato soup on a Winter’s day.

But great performances are only half the battle when trying to win over an audience. We need something to root for, and when we know exactly how it’s going to end, there’s little we can invest in. There’s going to be some kind of battle or race to survive at the end, and they’ll make it with seconds to spare. It’s the kind of film that makes you regret spending seven quid on a cinema ticket. The kind of film you’d have been happy to Wikipedia the plot of.

There are a couple of laughs, but they’re all the kinds of jokes to be expected. Look at Lancelot, he’s British, look at Tilly (Rebel Wilson), she’s lazy. Perhaps I’m not the target audience, and there’s lots going for it as a kid’s film. There’s mild excitement with no real threat, there’s people in silly costumes, and there’s a monkey – they’ve got it nailed. I just wish they’d take some risks with future films (if there are any), but I doubt they will.

No doubt it’ll become a film that is shown on Boxing Day just after lunch time, when the kids are so stuffed they can’t be bothered running around the house anymore, but apart from that there isn’t much going for it. The occasional original joke is undermined by typical, generic slapstick that becomes tedious after seeing it so often in previous films.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is flogging a waxwork horse, 2/5.


Jonny Naylor

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