By Nur Hussein, staff writer
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is the third movie in the Night at the Museum film series, and one of the final movies where the late Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney appear. While Rooney’s appearance was a cameo as a retired old security guard, Williams was present throughout the film, and watching him made this film more poignant than it originally set out to be.
I’ve always been a sucker for the Night at the Museum series, as I love the real-life versions of the museums they take place in, which are mainly the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian in the second movie. This third movie starts off at the New York museum, but later we take a trip to London, with the British Museum which is the setting for the rest of the film.
If you’ve seen the previous films, you’ll know that Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is a museum night security guard whose museum artifacts and exhibits come to life at sundown, thanks to a magic Egyptian tablet that the museum owns. Various characters inhabit the museum, including a wax statue of Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Atilla the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), Sacagawea (Mizuo Peck), tiny mini figures of a cowboy named Jedidiah (Owen Wilson), a Roman soldier named Octavius (Steve Coogan), and a mischievious stuffed Capuchin monkey named Dexter. The tablet itself belongs to an Egyptian mummy named Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek).
They are all back in this movie, and they are in trouble; the magic of the tablet is running out somehow. Ahkmenrah himself doesn’t know what’s wrong, but his parents do. Their mummified bodies are exhibits in the British Museum, and Larry somehow convinces his boss Dr. McPhee (Ricky Gervais) to send him there with Akhmenrah’s mummy. Larry takes his son Nicky (Skyler Gisondo) with him, and they sneak into the museum at night to try to find out how to fix the tablet from Akhmenrah’s parents.
Unbeknownst to them, many of the other characters also tagged along in the crates, and as usual wanton havoc takes place in the museum as the exhibits come to life. At the British Museum we meet Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens), a knight who just wants to go on quests, and the night guard there is an awkward lady named Tilly (Rebel Wilson).
This film offers more of the same hijinks as the first two films, but it kind of suffers from fatigue of the premise. It isn’t ever boring, but it is really difficult to top the previous movie which had both Hank Azaria and Amy Adams, the former being a hilarious antagonist and the latter being a truly interesting female lead. We get neither in this film, and despite Robin Williams’ brilliant charm and Ben Stiller’s best efforts, it felt like an overly-long coda to the franchise rather than an installment that stands on its own.
If you go in hoping to see some fun action from walking museum exhibits, you’ll get a lot of that here, and yet it doesn’t feel like quite enough. Again, the previous films were just teeming with characters, some more off the wall (sometimes literally) than others. In this film, we don’t spend nearly enough time in the British Museum, and we get a shoehorned cameo from Hugh Jackman and Alice Eve playing themselves (complete with a forced Wolverine joke).
Despite its flaws, if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll still want to see this. It’s the final time we’ll see Robin Williams in this role, and probably the final installment of the film franchise. It’s a last goodbye to the characters we’ve grown to love over the series, and an especially heartbreaking one if you think of Williams. I give the movie three out of five stars.