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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb Film Review: Not as much about teaching as impressing

So dinosaurs have company in mythical demons, and Pompeii's volcano meets Camelot's swashbuckling Lancelot.

Rating: 1 out of 5
Written by Shalini Langer | New Delhi | Published: December 26, 2014 2:55:31 pm
Night At The Museum The premise of this one involves the tablet again, which has started corroding in the confines of the New York Museum of Natural History.

Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb Fil Review: Not as much about teaching as impressing
Cast: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, Ben Kingsley
Director: Shawn Levy

EVEN the “magic tablet” has had enough, but Stiller, just voted one of the most over-paid Hollywood stars, is not done retelling the old joke. So here the historical figures are dusted for another airing of bumping, crashing, crying and bonding inside now two of the world’s best museums. Robin Williams’s own tragical demise is milked to the most, with several scenes of him and death, without it all turning too distasteful.

The premise of this one involves the tablet again, which has started corroding in the confines of the New York Museum of Natural History. Since it is the power of the tablet that makes all things come alive at night at the museum, the corrosion has its “night guard”, “head of the night program” Larry (Stiller) worried. So he heads out with it to the British Museum, where reside the other half of the Egyptian family that forged the tablet.

One presumes that it is the lasting goodwill for Stiller that still gets some good names to sign up for this franchise, including Kingsley as the pharaoh whose name and introduction take up most of the time he spends on screen. Williams would have regretted that this would be one of his last films, but Wilson and Gervais have little to be proud of either. And then there is Stiller himself, in a double role, his doppleganger being a Neanderthal whom the museum director has created in his image. The Neanderthal calls himself “Laaa” and Stiller’s Larry “Dada”, and that’s about the most you learn about him. Laaa falls in love — the kind of love that such a film allows him — with the British Museum’s night guard, who is of course overweight and lonely.

In fact, much as the film, a third based on an original children’s story, underlines how one comes away from museums learning a bit or two, Secret of The Tomb is not as much about teaching as impressing. So dinosaurs have company in mythical demons, and Pompeii’s volcano meets Camelot’s swashbuckling Lancelot. And one gets a sort-of tour of the British Museum in London, all the way to its Egyptian wing via Asia and Rome. But those who don’t know their history or their mythology would be none the wiser for it.

Worse, Stiller’s films have acquired this irritating habit of talking out a joke to death. Being funny is one thing, assuming no one else is is another. And just when you think Levy and company may finally be done, it’s evident they are far from.

Williams’s Teddy (Roosevelt) tells Stiller’s Larry at one point in the film, “Son, it’s time to let go.” Williams as usual could have the last laugh.

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