Night At The Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb: Film Review
Cast: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Ben Kingsley, Ricky Gervais, Owen Wilson, Dan Stevens
Director: Shawn Levy
So, the final installment of the Night At The Museum trilogy is unleashed, with the deaths of both Mickey Rooney and Robin Williams hanging over them (to whom the film is dedicated).
Ben Stiller returns as museum night guard Larry, who finds that the magic tablet of Ahkmenrah is decaying for no discernible reason, threatening the very existence of everyone in the museum. Convincing his boss (an uptight Ricky Gervais) to send him and the tablet to the British museum to reunite with the other half of the expedition that discovered it, Larry, his son and a gang from the museum head abroad.
But as they head to the British museum, their presence brings to life everything there - causing problems for Larry and the gang.
Night At The Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb is an uneven film, mixing in some nice emotional beats with a glut of CGI shenanigans and an OTT performance from a dashingly deluded Sir Lancelot played by former Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens.
Granted, a film that has a giant monkey peeing on Steve Coogan and Owen Wilson's mini-characters (to stave off lava from Pompeii) isn't promising to deliver much, but at times, it feels like Stiller et al are really phoning it in as they essentially go through a retread of the first film and the CGI shenanigans you've seen before.
And yet, in parts, the creatures in the British museum offer a degree of freshness even if the cast are simply moving from one corridor to the next, going through the episodic motions of a familiar farce. There are also some amusingly adult elements to the dialogue too with Larry remarking on how Attila the Hun was hacking into a dolphin like it was in The Cove and a certain cameo near the end offering up some smartly silly laughs. Equally, a showdown within an Escher painting brings a vital shot of cinematic creativity to the fore, an all too brief interlude before the cliched film resets to its default.
But too many of the scenes throughout drag on with strained banter that goes back and forth without any real punchline; too many opportunities feel wasted and the characters you know and love from the series are simply trotted out one last time because it's the end of the road.
There's no denying the poignancy of Robin Williams' final scene as Teddy Roosevelt, a last blast of sincerity and warmth which is punctuated with a manic rug-pull so endemic of Williams' own approach. It's a more than fitting send off which is then cruelly robbed of its emotional resonance just moments later in a lazy epilogue scene guaranteed to provide the sap and sentiment needed to wrap everything up happily ever after.
There's something to be said for Night At The Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb: its CGI (while over-used) brings real life into the creatures and will amaze the younger generation (much like David Attenborough's recent Natural History Alive special). But the lack of any real freshness or fizz within the cliched story and its execution (Larry's strained relationship with his son, everyone coming to terms with their place in life) lets down Night At The Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb quite badly, and leaves you with a feeling that you're quite glad that this exhibition is now being shut down.