Historical figures come to life one last time in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.

Historical figures come to life one last time in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.

Reel Reviews: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is a charming farewell

Watching one of Robin Williams' last films, Night of the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, has reviewer Brian Taylor feeling a bit of melancholy.

  • Dec. 28, 2014 12:00 p.m.

There is something wrong with the magical Egyptian tablet that has been the source of life for the exhibits at New York’s Museum of Natural History.

To fix it Larry (Ben Stiller) takes the tablet back to its original owner Merenkahre (Ben Kingsley), who is on exhibit at the British Museum of Natural History.

Larry brought along Merenkarhre’s son, Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek), to reunite his family, but there were a few more stowaways hiding in the crate. Larry needs all the help he can get as the British Museum comes to life in the presence of the magical tablet.

I say, “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is a charming farewell.”

Mr. Howe has gone on Christmas holiday, so I am left to fend for myself for the last film review of the year. This third installment of the Night at the Museum films is much the same as the others, cute, punny, funny and a little cheeky, not unlike the behaviour of everyone’s favourite Capuchin monkey.

Although the film does sport a sort of redone quality to it, because they go to the British Museum of Natural History and have a whole new batch of exhibits to come to life. The film is also sentimental, both in story and execution as there are a lot of goodbyes in it. This is because of the failing magical tablet, for instance, slowly turning Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams) back into a wax figure. Throughout the story, the threat of not being alive anymore, (sounds weird to say it like that, but they are statues and figurines) creates the tension.

I don’t think I’m going to spoil anyone’s Christmas by letting you know that they get the golden tablet figured out, the magic is fixed and everyone is happy to be together again, but now there are two museums full of living historical figures (and creatures) yet only one magical tablet. This leads to a self-sacrifice and a whole bunch more goodbyes.

It is these goodbyes that tug at the heartstrings, especially when you look into the eyes of Williams, who looks so tired and sad. I heard that they had to re-edit the ending as Williams’ farewell was too sad. I think that might have been wise. I, for one, went in knowing I was watching one of his last films and felt a bit melancholy the whole time. (Robin Williams is still going to be in a few more movies that haven’t come out yet, but they’re smaller pictures and might not come to Vernon.)

However, although I might be dwelling on this sad note a bit, there is a great deal of comfortable fun to be had in this movie. The gang is all here, including: Sacajawea, Atilla the Hun, tiny Octavius and Jedediah. Even Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs make an appearance. Plus they are joined by a museum full of new characters, most notably Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens) who does his best to steal the show. There are also a some major stars in surprise appearances.

The film itself is quite lazy, relying on callbacks to old jokes and using dialogue to explain what is happening, so it’s not going to score very highly, but is still good, clean fun for kids of all ages.

I give Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb 3 neanderthal doppelgangers out of 5.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column, Reel Reviews, appears in The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.