We missed the third part of the NATM trilogy at the cinema, but we’ve waited eagerly for the DVD release. So when were offered the chance to cover a Night At The Museum 3 Review we naturally shouted yes. The whole family are huge fans of the first two, so we had high hopes – and I admit we settled down to watch with mild feelings of trepidation.
What if they messed up?
What if they ruined these characters we’ve come to love?
I’ve read mixed reviews, rather a lot of ‘it’s-a-damp-squib-of-a-film’ comments. But we’re no high-expectations film critics. We’re a family; and we’re looking for a great film that will amuse the grown-ups as much as it does the 8yr old.
So we settled down, complete with our own Sacajawea, Dexter the monkey and a sprinkling of cowboy hats.
And from the first few minutes, we were entranced. Again. It’s no work of geniosity, it won’t win major awards… and yet it kept all six of us utterly entertained for the whole of its 98 minutes. Not as great as the first, but for me it’s definitely better than the second (if less dramatic in its effects, perhaps); the storyline is less contrived, the characters deliberately comfortable and welcoming rather than impressively new.
We start by going back almost 100 years, to when the tablet is discovered in the ancient tomb – setting the scene for ‘the end must come’. All the Museum of Natural History characters are back, and there’s a new face with Laa (another neanderthal that is made to resemble Larry – Ben Stiller makes the most of the chance to play both parts, hamming Laa up to the hilt and clearly relishing every second). Obviously we couldn’t do without the Jedediah and Octavius double act, Attila the Hun is subtly wonderful, and of course Theodore Roosevelt. Oh Teddy.
The major new character is Sir Lancelot, played by Dan Stevens who was surprisingly excellent at the comedy role.
I loved that the movie has moved the characters on a few years – it felt right that there was no re-hashing of the same old plots, that the personalities had changed and grown in the time they’ve been absent from our screens.
In addition to all our favourites, there were a host of walk-on parts. It was wonderful to see Dick Van Dyke’s truly impressive dance moves, the children adored Hugh Jackman’s surprise appearance (Huge Act-man!), and Ben Kingsley was his usually wonderful, quietly touching self.
I loved the odd cleverness set inside the MC Escher drawing, I loved the expectedly obvious humour, the mild peril was exciting… we were not left gasping for more, but we were taken on a romping adventure of a journey; we laughed, we gasped, we held our breath… and in the end, we had a satisfied feeling that the places we left the characters in felt good. The ultimate message of ‘letting go’ felt absolutely right.
But the abiding memories for me are bittersweet; over all the fun I will remember the sharp sweetness of Robin Williams making his goodbyes, quietly exclaiming that “It’s OK, Lawrence. We’re ready.”
The fact that this is the last time that we will see him on screen makes the whole film an unexpectedly perfect cinematic farewell.
Night at the Museum Secret of the Tomb is out NOW on Digital HD!