With "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb" as the last Hollywood film to be released in 2014, the year ends with a whimper.
The third film of the series, where the exhibits in a museum come alive during the night, is touted to be a comedy. Unfortunately, it is actually an uninspiring, dramatic, family pot-boiler where unlike its previous editions it lacks the lustre of a wholesome entertainer.
The film begins after a long prologue set in the deserts of Egypt in 1938, where an archaeologist who is searching for the tomb of Ahkmenrah, accidentally finds it and is warned, "If any one disturbs this tomb the end will come." To which the archaeologist replies, "We are not making a mistake, we are making history."
This sets expectations rolling and the narration shifts gear to the American Museum of Natural History in New York where night watchman Larry Daley is all geared up to put up a great sound and lights benefit show. But alas things don't go as planned and he soon correlates the corroding of a mystical tablet which was found in Ahkmenrah's tomb with the malfunctioning of the exhibits.
He learns that the solution to this lies with Pharaoh Merenkahre, who is an exhibit at the British Museum in London. So he travels all the way there to learn the secret of the tomb.
Layered with parenting issues, where Larry a single parent is worried about his son Nick's college plans, this fantasy-based adventure tale is superficially constructed and hence there is no depth to the narration.
Also with dialogues like, "Let no man stand between you and your destiny", "the young boy needs to slay his dragons," the dramatic junctures seem forced and pretentious.
Similarly the gags are staid, half-hearted and at the most draw only a chuckle.
With most of the characters being exhibits at the museum, their character graphs are bland and one dimensional with no scope for performance. Ben Stiller plays a double role which is distinct and cleverly plotted. Stiller as Larry, the night watchman and a single parent bringing up his son Nick, is jaded but he breathes life into the amusing Neanderthal exhibit "Laa."
Dan Stevens shines as the delusional Lancelot who is in search of Guinevere. Similarly, Rami Malek as Ahkmenrah, Steve Coogan and Owen Wilson as the miniature versions of the Roman leader Octavius and the cowboy Jedediah along with Rebel Wilson as Tilly, the night guard at the British Museum, have their moments of glory.
This being the last meaningful role of Robin Williams as the exhibit Teddy Roosevelt, there are a few touching moments. But it is his energetic voice as Garuda that enthralls you for a split second. On the other hand, Ben Kingsley as Pharoah Merenkahre is wasted.
With good lighting, excellent production values and computer generated images, the film is visually appealing but overall Director Shawn Levy's lethargic efforts ensure that the soothsayer's prediction, "the end will come" rings true in this series of "Night at the Museum."