By Graham "GSM" Matthews
When I first heard that they were making another sequel to "Night at the Museum," it was on the same day Robin William, one of the film's most notable stars, passed away in August. It was when I learned that "Night at the Museum 3" would be one of Williams' final acting performances. It came as a surprise to me when I heard that this movie had just wrapped up production because I hadn't heard anything about it prior to that point and it never felt like the "Night of Museum" movies were intended to be a trilogy. I've seen them referenced as a trilogy recently, but I never knew that was the plan when the first two were released. Nevertheless, I loved the first two movies and I enjoyed this installment very much as well.
I haven't seen this movie getting the greatest of reviews, but it seems to me that those that understood the concept and enjoyed the first two movies (such as myself) are going to like this one, too. The premise of "Secret of the Tomb" is essentially the same as the first two: Ben Stiller, his son (who is portrayed by someone different than the kid in the first film) and the exhibits from the Museum of Nation History travel to London's British Museum. They introduce a few new characters (Dan Stevens as Sir Lancelot) much like the second one, but in the end, the plot doesn't differ too much from the first two. Some people may have found that too repetitive or predictable, but they added several new twists that made it stand alone as its own film and not an exact repeat.
What I liked most about the film was how it all tied back to the first installment, whether it be through running gags or the returning cast of characters such as the villains from the first film. I didn't expect that going in and it really made for a cool moment, especially since one of the bad guys Mickey Rooney who passed away last spring. Of course, they must have filmed his small role before his passing, but it was still great to see him especially at his old age.
The England setting was a breath of fresh air for the movie, especially after the first two took place in New York and Washington D.C., respectively. Other than that, the story was essentially the story: Ben Stiller, his son and the museum exhibits embark on an adventure to figure out why the tablet (which brings the museum exhibits to life) isn't working. Obviously, the plot slightly varies, but if you're someone who doesn't like repetition, this movie may not be for you. It's designed for a family-friendly audience that wouldn't care about that kind of thing anyway, so it's understandable they went the route they did with it.
After the movie ended, I was thinking to myself, "That was the darkest installment of the trilogy." By that, I don't mean there was murder or anything too risque, but with the life of the museum exhibits at stake (I don't spoil the ending), there's a lot more intensity to it than the last two. It's still appropriate for a family-friendly audience, but it switches things up in a way the first two movies didn't. That's in addition to the fact that it gets very emotional at the end since this is the final installment in the trilogy.
Speaking of such, they do an excellent job of wrapping up all the stories from the first film to this one. Stiller's son plays a much bigger role in this movie than he did when he was first introduced and his story comes full circle, as does Stiller's. As noted, I never thought they would make another sequel to Night of the Museum, so I didn't know what to expect from the ending going in, but for those still waiting to see it, the movie has a fitting conclusion to say the least and they couldn't have finished it off on a better note.
My favorite parts of this movie had to be the performances of Williams and Rooney. Both passed away shortly following the production of this movie finished, so I was curious as to whether they'd make mention of that in the post-credits. Obviously, they did (and it nearly made me shed a tear when they paid tribute to both of them), but in Williams' case, his final appearance was beautiful (no word describes it better). What he had had to say was almost like his way of saying goodbye. It's sad enough that he's saying farewell to the movie audience, but when taking into account that this was his final live acting performance before his death, it hit home for those who loved his work.
You don't have to see the first two movies to enjoy this one, but it certainly does help. It's a fun movie on its own, but in comparison to the last two, it's a great way of wrapping up the trilogy. I never thought "Night of the Museum" needed a third movie or that there was another story waiting to be told, but what they pulled together was very enjoyable and entertaining. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was a great movie, but it was a nice nod to those who liked the last two. If nothing else, go out of your way to see this film for the performances of Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney. You'll be balling your eyes out by the end.
Should you watch this movie? Yes.