Now in its third instalment, it's clearer than ever that this franchise is based on one joke that has been stretched far beyond the breaking point. And not too cleverly at that. Fortunately, this movie retains much of the deranged idiocy that made the second part rather enjoyable. So it's watchable even if there aren't many new ideas, and even if filmmaker Shawn Levy is far too happy to settle for unnecessary digital effects work where a bit of character comedy would have been much more engaging.
Back on the job as a night watchman in New York, Larry (Ben Stiller) is now orchestrating the museum exhibits when they come to life to provide spectacular shows for visitors who think this is all a special effect. Even his boss (Ricky Gervais) isn't sure what's really going on. But when a glitch in the magical Ancient Egyptian powers causes chaos, Larry learns that he needs to travel to London so he can reunite Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek) with his father (Ben Kingsley), who's on display at the British Museum. Larry's teen son Nick (Skyler Gisondo) comes along, as do his revived pals Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), tiny soldiers Octavius and Jedediah (Steve Coogan and Owen Wilson) and others. But in London, while sneaking around local night guard Tilly (Rebel Wilson), Larry's team awakens a statue of the knight Lancelot (Dan Stevens), who dives into their quest with rather a bit too much gusto.
Until Lancelot turns up, everything about the film feels oddly tired, from the starry cameos to effects work that strains to be clever. Then Stevens injects a badly needed jolt of blue-eyed charisma and warped comical timing that makes the rest of the movie rather good fun. Rebel Wilson's side-plot is also rather amusing, with some wonderfully ridiculous touches. And even the cameos get better, notably a scene on a West End stage that's genuinely inspired silliness. Coogan and Wilson offer some raucous banter to accompany everything that happens, and Stiller kind of hangs on for dear life. But the filmmakers don't really care about these characters; they're just trying to create something visually impressive that's also goofy fun.
Continue reading: Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb Review