Night at the Museum is one of the most disappointing film franchises in general. Mostly because it houses one of the most compelling premises of the fantasy-comedy genre, yet it’s met with such a mediocre direction and writing that all the potential goes to waste. The first film failed to achieve the story’s overall potential, but at least it had an interesting character arc for its protagonist. The two films that’d follow it, however, fail to have any nuance, and despite not being the worst thing ever, they’re still painfully mediocre. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb suffers from nearly the same issues as Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian did.
Such a high-potential satire premise would work much better if it was in hands of people with a good understanding of satire. These films, however, only manage to make a stereotypical caricature of the satirical premise, which is made worse by the corny jokes.
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The Movie Review
The film begins in 1938, with a team of archaeologists coming upon the origins of the Tablet of Ahkmenrah around his tomb in Egypt. It is also shown that they’re warned that if the tablet is removed from its source, “the end will come.” The story then shifts to Seventy-six years later, with Larry Daley apparently being a guard at the American Museum of National History yet again.
He teams up with the other exhibits to host an event to cause the re-opening of the Hayden Planetarium. During the preparations, one of the exhibits reveals to him that a new Neanderthal model that resembled Larry was being commissioned by the museum. Ironically, the Neanderthal is named Laaa and chooses to see Larry as his father.
Ahkmenrah brings some bad news by showing that the tablet has begun to suffer from unexplained corrosion, and things begin to escalate very quickly, with the tablet behaving strangely and then temporarily causing chaos at the entire planetarium by making all the exhibits crazy.
Larry then meets Cecil after quite some time. Cecil was one of the archaeologists involved in the finding of the Tablet of Ahkmenrah. And that’s when Larry learns what the prophecy found at Ahkmenrah’s tomb really meant. It’s a situation that puts all of the exhibits in permanent danger, and the solution can only be found by seeking help from Ahkmenrah’s parents, who are located in the British Museum.
The adventure sounds quite intriguing even here, but with the way the characters are written, and with how there’s barely anything that connects you greatly with Larry or the exhibits, one doesn’t really get to care about anything that’s happening. The aspects of the fiction itself are highly interesting, but the way things play out makes it all quite bland. All in all, the film is just another example of Shawn Levy failing to utilize the potential of Night at the Museum’s premise.
Alan Silvestri’s original score here is quite better than it was in the first film. Guillermo Navarro’s cinematography, on the other end, fails to overcome the film’s campiness. David Guion and Michael Handelman’s script is full of corny dialogue and comedy.
The script fails at things the original succeeded at, and somehow manages to make things even weaker. There are worse scripts, but mediocre is the best way to describe this one, as well as Shawn Levy’s direction in the entire Night at the Museum franchise.
The Bottom Line
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is hopefully the final disappointment we get to see from this franchise. It’s not a terrible film at all, just that it’s sad to see such an intriguing potential go to waste. The film suffers from mediocrity through and through and has no aspects of the story or the storytelling that hook you on the seat.