Streaming on Disney Plus
Mild Spoiler Alert
Disney’s animated continuation of Night at the Museum with Kahmunrah Rises Again is a decent finale to a beloved franchise. Despite having to get other voice over talents in to voice this latest entry to the franchise, I’m okay with it. That’s because bringing Ricky Gervais and Ben Stiller back is probably too expensive. And to continue it as a live action film without Robin Williams, who passed away many years ago, would be a disservice. Thomas Lennon, who replaces him, does his best to honour this comedian, even though his vocal performance isn’t entirely perfect.
I am a fan of 20th Century Fox’s original trilogy, and even after the acquisition by Disney, I’m glad that the roots are honoured. The reason objects come to life is because the Moon God Khonsu empowered the Golden Tablet of Pharaoh Ahkmenrah to animate them. Historically and spiritually, the ushabti figurines placed in the tombs come to life to take care of the deceased person’s needs. However, in this film’s world, any effigy don’t have to do that. They can serve a greater good should they happen across a person whom they recognise needs their help to overcome problems in his or her life. In the live-action films, Larry Daley finds a new purpose, and in the animated continuation, Nick (Joshua Bassett), acquires the confidence he needs to become a young adult who can take on the world.
This fourth film is more of a direct sequel to the second film than the third. That’s because there’s nothing said about what happened to Ahkmenrah and his parents (who found their peace in the third film). Kahmunrah does not even acknowledge them, and as for why a statue of him is sent to the New York Museum for display is not explained. When he awakens and sees a picture of his dad, the brief conversation isn’t enough to express all the hate the despot held all these years. With that information in place, what happens next suggests the memories one version of the statue have with another are connected. The version that vanished long ago didn’t find a way back. Instead, his soul just awakened in another figure.
The youth feels like he’s in over his head when having to deal with this evil, but Roosevelt (Thomas Lennon), Octavius (Jack Whitehall), Jedediah (Steve Zahn), Attila the Hun (Alexander Salamat) and the new crew–which includes Joan of Arc (Alice Isaaz)–do their best to help him out. What happens next is as good as the films, if not better, and the adventure even heads to Egypt where Kahmunrah needs to find another portal to bring his soldiers to Earth! To see those artefacts come to life is all the action I need to enjoy the work, and as for whether this series has lost its mojo, I don’t think so.
That’s because we see some classic Disney tropes being used. Unfortunately that includes animal sidekicks, and thankfully that gets twisted around as Kahmunrah has to enlist the help of the canine-like god Seth (Akmal Saleh). When he’s brought to life, this little figure is not there for comic relief. This villain’s goals have not changed. Also, everything I recall about Hank Azaria’s version is amplified in Joseph Kamal’s take. His performance in Kahmunrah Rises Again is more silly. Although his goals are not in the same vein as The Scorpion King’s or Imhotep’s from the 90s The Mummy Series, the nod exists and he’s still a viable threat that I see returning once a millennium.
As for whether more films will be made, my guess is that there won’t be. The new owners are merely bringing closure to all the properties they’ve inherited. It’d be a miracle to see A Night at the Museum continue as a series.
4 Stars out of 5