Shawn Levy returns to his franchise with a set of fresh eyes as the opening scenes break the pattern set by the previous installments indulging in the scope and wonder of the museum and the exhibits themselves. Instead, an archeological dig set in 1938 Egypt begins our globetrotting feature. This break is wonderfully executed and really starts off Secret of the Tomb faster than any of the other entries.
The sequences of the film are laid out in such precise order that it emulates the original film, that the hidden underlying subplots sneak their way in and the results have a plethora of value and surprise. This film is being marketed in such a risky way. It promotes itself as just another romp with the family for the holiday season, possibly turning away cautious viewers, but it actually facilities itself on a more mature level that can still get you somehow to laugh at monkey potty humor. Unfortunate as it may be to see Robin Williams’ last feature film one he doesn’t quite star in, Secret of the Tomb will do extremely well at bringing people in regardless of previous notions to the franchise’s history. The final moments between Stiller and Williams’ characters resonates tenfold due to the actual finality behind the words. Don’t worry, we also get a great scene with Mickey Rooney as well.
Story wise, the unfolding elements and additions to the mythology help strengthen the entire franchise and I personally would rank this script as the best so far. Magical, like the original and ambitious, it’s not overly so like the Smithsonian, which somehow added less supplement to the mixture. Secret of the Tomb works as both a standalone and a healthier continuation than its counterpart by showing more without overloading the audience. Many elements even completely go so far as ignoring the second film’s existence. Ahkmenrah’s parents never once mention his older brother, even midst a back story sequence. Other than small nit-picky inconsistencies I probably spent too much time thinking about, the film’s only other small flaw lies in its less historical characters.
Larry’s son Nicky (newcomer to the series, Skyler Gisondo), lacks any real depth, coming off only as a weak-willed teenager who like clockwork, has a 180 degree turn on his outlook on life during the final act. I don’t hold Gisondo personally responsible as he could compete within many scenes and be just as funny opposite Stiller, but it’s hard to work within such a cookie cutter role. Rebel Wilson flat out steals the entire show slowly and methodically with each scene involving her odd love affair. That also reminds me, thank you film for not putting another leading lady opposite of Stiller’s main character. Seriously, why can’t he keep a girlfriend?
Dan Stevens’ introduction to the series is also noteworthy on his outstanding performance as Lancelot, especially during the final act. It was also marvelous to see Ricky Gervais return as the curator and offer much more to the plot. Ben Kingsley’s appearance as Merenkahre, Ahkmenrah’s father left so much more to be desired, but he perfectly fit with the entire family previously established. Many other minor characters (I’m talking to you 1938 extras), seemed ripped out of movies also set in that time (I’m talking blatant ripoffs from Indiana Jones, The Mummy, etc… (You’ll know when you see them)).
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is not only the perfect holiday film for the whole family, but the perfect send off for the series. Just don’t question why they only ever hire one guard to watch the entire museum at night.
Photos via: 20th Century Fox