Sunday, March 1, 2015

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! The secret is love...and a dash of paprika!



Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb – 4 out of 5


I really enjoy the Night at the Museum movies. The first one sucked me in and made me laugh while filling me with child-like wonder. The second went bigger and, in my opinion, was just as enjoyable as the first installment.  Then, as an added bonus, had Hank Azaria and Bill Hader in it! I guess I don’t really need to inform you that I was a teensy bit excited to see one more movie.

I'm ready for Round Three, boys!

Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is living the big life at the museum thanks to the Tablet of Ahkmenrah. The attractions coming to life bred new life into the museum and people flock everywhere to behold the wonder. However, something is happening to the tablet. A green corrosion is slowly starting to cover it and it is sucking out all the magic that is bringing the exhibits to life. And, if that’s not enough, he’s also dealing with his son Nick (Skyler Gisondo) growing up and looking to take a year off before considering college. With his family trouble directly in tow, Larry takes Nick and the familiar faces of Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Sacajawea (Mizuo Peak), Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Octavius (Steve Coogan), Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), Dexter the Monkey, and Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek) to England in order to meet with Ahkmenrah’s parents; Merenkahre (Ben Kingsley) and Shepseheret (Anjali Jay). The only problem is that he has to content with the English museum’s night guard (Rebel Wilson) and an entire museum that is coming to life for the first time…which just so happens to include a Triceratops skeleton and a very determined and driven Sir Lancelot of Camelot (Dan Stevens).

Sure, a monkey peeing is immature but...it's a monkey peeing.  That's just funny.

While I will say that this isn’t my favorite of the series, I still immensely enjoyed it. Once again, director Shawn Levy helms a family-friendly comedy that never gets too serious but won’t get too silly either. Sure, some of the gags are callbacks to the other films—like the gag they do with Jedediah and Octavius where they are dealing with some hardship that seems insurmountable to them but, when the perspective is adjusted to the height of the viewer, it seems like nothing—but I didn’t really see this as lazy comedy but a comfortable and familiar joke that feels like it belongs.

Wait a second...the movie has Matthew Frewer and he's barely in it?!?
You're lucky you're funny, Secret of the Tomb.  Otherwise, I couldn't forgive this crime.

The trailer basically showed the whole scene...only
it's ten times longer in the film and ten times less
funny.
My complaints with this one are extremely minor and didn’t really do anything to kill the fun I was having watching it. For example, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Rebel Wilson’s character or her performance. In small bits, I find Wilson very amusing but sometimes more of her gets to be grating. For example, when she first arrives in the film, her scene lasts a little too long and the comedy starts to fade away quickly—granted, they make a joke about this scene going to long and it sorta redeems itself but it doesn’t complete do away with the awkwardness of the dead horse-beating sequence. Also, this introduction comes with not one but two poop jokes and that wasn’t really helping me with things in the scene. However, Wilson has her moments—including a great Dirty Dancing reference that had me rolling.

Forget spoilers.  This is the Dirty Dancing reference.

There was also an addition to the film that I simultaneously enjoyed but wished it was a little better developed. The story begins with the discovery of the tablet and, here’s the surprise, the man who gave his job to Larry; Cecil (Dick Van Dyke), was there and actually made the discovery. While Larry is trying to figure out why the magic is leaving the tablet, it requires him to meet with Cecil and his two grumpy old security guards from the first film. While it was cool to see Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobbs return to the franchise, nothing really comes of it except that Cecil directs Larry to England. While it works for what it is, it would have been cool to see a little more from Cecil since it was established that he was the one responsible for finding the thing.

Mr. Van Dyke's piercing blue eyes have not faded with age.

It also would have been nice to see a little more development between Ahkmenrah and his parents. Their story sorta parallels what Larry and his son are going through and, if Ahkmenrah’s part was feathered out a little more, it would have more strongly complimented what Larry and Nick are going through and vice versa. However, it works for what it is and it was cool to see how Ahkmenrah’s parents created the tablet…also, further development would have resulted in more Ben Kingsley and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Seriously, this movie should have had more Kingsley.

Finally, the film lacks a central protagonist. The first film and the second both shined brightly in this department (especially Azaria) but this one felt lacking. Granted, the main conflict in the story is trying to figure out why the magic is leaving and trying to stop that but the film definitely needed something to stand in that way. Secret of the Tomb does provide this in the form of one of the newly awakened exhibit but it doesn’t feel nearly as strong or developed as the antagonists in the previous films. 


That's a terrible Blue Steel.


Even with these minor complaints, I still really enjoyed this final outing for Night at the Museum. The film is hysterical, the characters are still fun, and the acting is great. There are even some very touching moments that go beyond me just getting a little choked up at seeing Robin Williams in his final performance.

Williams may have left this world too soon but he got to play one of history's
most badass presidents!
I really enjoyed seeing Ben Stiller return as Larry but also seeing him as the new caveman Laaa.  There are many hilarious back-and-forths between the two and the tricks they used to combine them into single scenes were damn near flawless.  Additionally, I was really enjoying the performance of Skyler Gisondo as Nick Daley, Larry's boy.  The way he delivers lines and interacts with Stiller was ridiculously amusing and his sarcasm, wit, and delivery is very entertaining.

Honestly, I thought Gisondo was going to be annoying in the film but was complete
wrong about him.  He was great!
Another returning player that I have enjoyed in this series is the very talented Ricky Gervais.  While his role still isn't that large compared to other characters, he did seem to get more screen time and any time you get more Gervais is a good thing, in my book.  He has a absolutely fantastic scene with Stiller before the story crosses the pond that left me in stiches.  The man is just a great performer and hysterical comedian.

I don't want to meet the people who don't like Ricky Gervais.  I don't need that type
of negativity in my life.
These two just play so well together.
Once again, two show-stealers in the film are Wilson and Coogan as Jedediah and Octavius.  While some might feel their scenes and gags inserted into the story might come off as gratuitous since the story kinda forces their characters to be separated from the rest; however, their moments were still very fun to me and the chemistry the two actors have is easily enjoyable.  It's a bit sad that the spin-off that was planned for the two was canned after Robin Williams death (rest in peace, good sir!  You are missed).

Goodnight, Sweet Prince.
The Triceratops has a bone to pick with them!

I'll show myself out.
Finally, I really liked the inclusion of the new character of Lancelot.  The moment he is introduced with a hilarious and exciting action sequence with the Triceratops, Lancelot is shown to be someone that is of the same cloth as the other museum exhibit characters. He's likable, a bit over-the-top, and undeniably charismatic.  While I did find it strange that actor Dan Stevens sounds and looks like Cary Elwes in The Princess Bride, I admit there was an element to his development that I felt wasn't handled the best.  It worked for the film and story but it could have probably been so much better.  For the sake of Spoilers, I am intentionally not mentioning what development that is but, for the sake of clarity, Lancelot ends up becoming conflicted with suddenly being brought to life and learning he's not real and it ends up becoming a road block to Larry and his mission.

Sweet Lobster Bisque!  He is a handsome and dashing man, isn't he?
One element to this film series that has always worked for me is the special effects.  Sure, these films are not big budget superhero spectaculars or summer popcorn action films about aliens invading or something like that but bad special effects definitely would have hurt the overall magic of the film.  In the past, some of the scenes with Dexter the Monkey have felt slightly awkward (but workable) but, in this final film, I saw no special effects that made me say, "Eh...that's not the best but it's okay."  Instead, I found myself saying, "Wow, that was really good."  I know I already mentioned it (and I know I'll mention it again) but I really dug how seamlessly they were able to not only edit Larry and Laaa into one sequence but have them in the same frame without it looking like the shot was spliced from two different shots.  They moved and interacted like they were two separate actors on one set and it produced a fluid and believable scene.  That's basically what the special effects were doing in this one, creating a fluid and believable world that isn't looking like a cheap cartoon.

Infinitely funnier than the Geico cavemen commercials and the show.

While not as strong as the previous two films, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is a very decent send-off to the franchise.  The story wraps up Larry Daley’s tale nicely and it even manages to throw in a hysterical cameo from Hugh Jackman.

Jackman...he's the total package, people.  And the movie even states that!

Someone is blaming this scene on both Obama
and gay marriage.
The film has some very minor hiccups but they are easily overlooked by some hilarious scenes with Ricky Gervais, absolutely fantastic special effects—especially the near seamless integration of Ben Stiller as both Larry and the caveman Laaa (told you I would mention it again)—as well as a stand out performance from Skyler Gisondo. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I have to go hit a museum or two before this film gets a gritty reboot and the magic of the tablet is used in a museum that is showing the Body Worlds exhibit.

That's sweet...

What's that?  Nope, I'm not crying.  There's...um...dust in my eye.  Yeah, that's it.

2 comments:

  1. RIP Robin Williams. You left behind an enormous trail of painful laughter.

    ReplyDelete
  2. you're gonna want to see this film because of the ending, especially if you were a fan of the franchise before this.

    ReplyDelete

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