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|Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb|
dir Shawn Levy
prd Chris Columbus, Shawn Levy
scr David Guion, Michael Handelman
with Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Dan Stevens, Skyler Gisondo, Rebel Wilson, Steve Coogan, Owen Wilson, Rami Malek, Ben Kingsley, Ricky Gervais, Patrick Gallagher, Mizuo Peck
release US/UK 19.Dec.14
14/US Fox 1h37
The halls are alive: Williams, Malek and Stiller
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
There's a whiff of exhaustion about this third chapter in the series about a museum that comes to life at night. It's a clever premise, but there aren't many new ideas about what to do with it beyond indulging in more elaborate digital effects work by pointlessly bringing to life lots of inanimate objects. Then a couple of new characters arrive bringing a fresh blast of sharper-edged humour.
In New York, museum security guard Larry (Stiller) is thrilling crowds with what they think are whizzy special effects rather than exhibits come to life. So when there's a glitch in the magical powers, he heads to London to reunite Ahkmenrah (Malek) with his father (Kingsley) at the British Museum and fix the problem. Larry's son Nick (Gisondo) tags along, as do Teddy Roosevelt (Williams), tiny warriors Octavius and Jedediah (Coogan and Wilson) and others. And in London they awaken perplexed knight Lancelot (Stevens), who complicates the plan.
Stevens adds a badly needed jolt of dashing charisma and impeccable comic timing as the handsome but misguided knight trying to save the day. There's also the addition of Rebel Wilson's Tilly, the London night watchman who has her own adventure over the course of this fateful night. By comparison, the returning characters feel rather tame and uninspiring, although Coogan and Wilson inject a constant stream of deranged one-liners and witty innuendo.
The special effects work is up to the challenge of bringing these people and objects to life. One memorable freak-out touch is a sequence in which broken ancient statues struggle to move without arms and/or legs. And there's a surreal adventure inside a living Escher painting. So it's annoying that the script simply ignores any sense of internal logic. It may seem petty to ask why there are dinosaurs and Escher paintings in the British Museum, a historical collection. And why it seems to take about 10 minutes to jet between London and New York.
But then the filmmakers don't much care about things like plot cohesion. This is an excuse for flashy effects and raucous cameos (there are several of those, including the film's funniest moment on a West End stage). But it's clearly too much to Levy and company to actually use history or art to propel their thin story or characters. That might have made these films something special. As is, they're just a momentary bit of escapist fun.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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