Monday, June 15, 2015

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014)

 “You're done your job. It's time for your next adventure!”
“I have no idea what I'm going to do tomorrow.”
“ [reassuring] How exciting.”

            I love museums. I have an MA in Museum Registration and a BA in Art History. Objects of every kind have fantastic stories to tell. When I go to a museum I see stories and histories that most people never hear or learn about. I see passion, despair, lust, sadness, creativeness, happiness, longing, desire, beliefs, love, politics, progression, intelligence, poverty, and wealth in every object in a museum. I have learned more social history through Art History than I ever did in any history class. My favorite time period of art to study is European art from 1860-1900 with a focus on French (screw the Impressionists!), German, and Austrian art. I love the artists of that time period and society in those decades is so fascinating.
            There are so many stories attached to paintings and objects that historians are still puzzled over. Most of the time stories and histories of artists and their works are not known because there is not that much documentation. When I hear that there is not a lot if information about a work of art or object or artist I always wish I could go back in time to find the artist and speak to them or go back to when the work was made to see what I can find out about it. My favorite painting in the whole of Art History is Madame X by John Singer Sargent in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I call Madame X my sassy girl because that is exactly what she is. In the gallery the painting is located in she is surrounded by other portraits by Sargent and a few other artists. The people in those portraits look down at the visitors vying for our attention yet it is Madame X who manages to grab it. She has porcelain white skin, wears a midnight black dress against a golden brown background and her right hand resting against a brown table. She is profile with an expression of annoyance and arrogance as if she is conveying that she does not have time for those who come to admire her. There is a wonderful book about Madame X aka Virginie Amelie Avego Gautreau called Strapless. Gautreau was an American like Sargent who immigrated to Paris. She became a well known socialite and her portrait by Sargent shocked Parisian society because the strap on her dress had fallen around her arm from her shoulder (Sargent years later painted over the strap moving it up to her shoulder which is what visitors see today). Besides her portrait for Sargent and all the sketches he made not too much is known about Madame Gautreau. I would love to travel back in time and learn about her or even talk to her or witness Sargent painting the portrait.
            As a kid I thought how cool it would be if everything in a museum could come alive. How awesome and terrifying would that be?! I would love to at least try to have a conversation with  my sassy girl Madame X because in my mind she would think I was trash and not worthy of speaking to (I’m nerd and a weirdo I get it, no need to tell me). Well, Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon somehow got into my brain and created Night at the Museum in 2010 where an Egyptian tablet brings everything in the Museum of Natural History to life.
            As of this writing I somehow never reviewed the first two Night at the Museum movies which I cannot believe. I have recently watched Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb so this is the first Night at the Museum I shall be writing up.
            Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) started out as a night guard at the Museum of Natural History in New York City four years ago. He was the one to discover that a tablet in the Egyptian wing held the power to bring everything in the museum to life. Since that time he has let people believe that all the objects are special effects instead of them actually coming to life.
            The night of a big fundraiser, Pharaoh Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek) shows Larry the tablet. There is something corroding it and messing with the all the objects causing them to go a little haywire. Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Sacagawea, Atilla the Hun, Dexter a capuchin monkey, and Rexi the dinosaur, and the constellations all glitch and cause the fundraiser to go into a mass of hysterics. Ahkmenrah tells Larry that his father is the only one who knows the secrets of the tablet but unfortunately his father is in the British Museum. His family was divided among the Americans and the British when their tomb was discovered. Despite the director of the museum being fired he agrees to help with transferring the tablet, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ahkmenrah to the British Museum.
            The British Museum comes to life for the first time. One of the objects/people from history who comes to life is Lancelot from the legends of King Arthur. He is arrogant and does not fully understand the plan and the real world since it is the first time he has been awake in centuries. Ahkmenrah finds his father and mother. His father tells him that the reason the tablet is corroding is because he had a spell cast on it and the priest who put the spell on it made it so that the tablet had to come under moonlight. It has been centuries since the tablet was under direct moonlight. They almost get the tablet under moonlight in the museum until Lancelot comes and takes it because he believes it is the Holy Grail King Arthur had been searching for.
            Larry and all the characters now have to scramble to find Lancelot and the tablet before they all cease to exist.
            The cast was excellent. Robin Williams was unbelievably perfect as Teddy Roosevelt. Rebel Wilson I find funny but I feel she goes a bit too far with some of her scenes and lines. Rami Malek as Ahkmenrah is just love. He is too fantastic for words as the pharaoh. Ben Kingsley played Ahkmenrah’s father and he was also fabulous in the part. Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan as a cowboy and a Roman soldier who have become best friends is probably one of the best aspects of the movie they are hilarious together.
            I just have to have a quick museum professional fit for a second: There is a scene where Larry goes into what is supposed to be the archive in the Museum of Natural History. The archivist is nerdy old woman with glasses and seems out of her mind. Not all archivists and museum people are like that. My three biggest fits I will have about this scene is that the archivist just lets Larry go into the archives and look for what he wants by himself! As they are both sitting at the table he does not have gloves and the archivist bring coffee over to the table with all the documents spread out! She would have been fired on the damn spot! SHE SHOULD KNOW BETTER! I also cringed to death at all the damage to the objects and the displays in the British Museum. Also they were essentially breaking into the British Museum. Do not even get me started on theft and theft prevention in museums I love that topic so much (NERD ALERT!!!). And yes I do know this is a movie I will take a chill pill. 
            Like the other Night at the Museum movies I loved this one. I enjoyed this one a lot because it took place in the British Museum. I was there five years ago and I just remember walking around with my mouth open. I got to see the altar pieces and caryatids and statues from the Pantheon in person and they were absolutely breathtaking. In the movie all the pieces eerily come to life as they realize they are missing body parts. The best was a relief of a centaur and a man fighting each other, they were literally face to face punching each other in the face it was hilarious. It was interesting to see how the objects’ movements were interpreted not only the altar pieces from the Parthenon but the objects from India and China and even some of the mummies.
            Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb was so much to watch. I felt like a little kid watching my dream come true. Do yourself a favor if you do not like museum, make it fun for yourself by really taking a look at a statue or a painting or figures in a relief or vase. As you are looking at these figures look at how their bodies were created, look at their muscles, their faces, their posture, their poses. Then think to yourself if they were to come alive how would they move. Create stories for yourself. Make your stories humorous and exciting (for example: there is a bust in the Greek and Roman Galleries in the Met Museum that looks exactly like Voldemort! Also in the same gallery there is a small statue of Bacchus that looks like a perverted Santa!) by thinking of how you would react if they came alive and if they would chase you or have a conversation with you.
            You do not have to be an art or museum fanatic like me to enjoy Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. All you need is a sense of a humor, a love of good stories, and a great imagination.

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