New museum, old ideas
The first Night at the Museum was good fun. It effectively plays out like a live action version of Toy Story. The second film lost all the charm of the first film by focusing more on the characters that have come to life and not the magic of things coming to life.
The third installment re-visits this essential part of the formula. The power that enables the museum to come to life , a power held within a magic tablet, starts to wain. In order to stop the tablet from losing all its power; Larry (Ben Stiller) must consult the Egyptian creators who happen to be on display in the British Natural History Museum.
Now I’m not a curator at the Museum but it didn’t look like anything I remember from my last visit. But who cares, this is a fantasy adventure film not a documentary, no need to grumble.
What you could grumble about though is the the lack of original ideas. You have a brand new museum in which we’ve already figured out it’s not based on the real one, so this becomes your blank canvass for almost anything ever in history, myth and legend.
What we are treated to instead is a pastiche of the original bringing to life Lancelot, the famous knight of the round table, a dinosaur that just wants to play fetch and act like a puppy and various other inanimate objects such as statues coming to life in an ambivalent way. That’s all fine I guess, and it was entertaining enough as it is, but I wanted it to evoke a stronger sense of awe and wonder similar to what you experience as a child when seeing mysterious creatures in a museum for the first time.
There were a couple of times the film hinted at such things the first being a room full of broken sculptures that had missing heads or arms trying to move about the hall. As the script rightly dictates it’s all rather creepy and mimics a real life experience in a museum – they can be a bit creepy! The next time we get to see this is when the characters fall inside an MC Escher painting – haven’t we all wondered what it would be like to walk up some stair only to find you are on a wall and turning a corner means you are upside down whilst simultaneously looking at the ceiling which is also a floor/window/wall?!
What we are left with is a really great portrayal of Lancelot played by Dan Stevens and a triceratops that needs taming. I’m really pleased that Dan Stevens is allowed to shine in this movie as one of his last major roles I saw him in was The Guest I wrote a line in my previous review that ended up getting cut but went along the lines that Stevens is a promising actor but is held back by the rest of that film.
Alongside Stevens it was really good to see Robin Williams revive the role of Teddy Roosevelt in what has unfortunately become one of his last ever films. He plays the role with such a charm that you’d have to be a miserable human being to not enjoy the character.
The absolute worst part about the film for me was Ricky Gervais who played err Ricky Gervais I guess and Rebel Wilson who plays generic, mouthy, fat, self aware security woman. It’s a shame because there is actually a lot of subtlety to most of the characters in the film, so much so that I found the rough characteristics of the above detracts from the film.
As it is the film is decent enough and outshines the second installment in the series. There isn’t enough magic or depth to fully appeal to an older audience, such as my cranky self, but as a family film or light entertainment it’s pretty good and worth a watch.
- Robin Williams
- Dan Stevens as Lancelot
- Fun for all the family
- Not enough imagination in the new museum
- Ricky Gervais and Rebel Wilson seem a bit out of place
- Feels a bit too similar to the first film