Let’s get one thing straight: animation is not a genre; it is a medium. Animation is not “meant for children”. It is meant to act as a canvas for telling a variety of stories that can range from horror to sci-fi, drama, action, noir, suspense, crime, mystery, etc. They may be specifically targeted at adults, teens, and children, or all of the above. The “Night at the Museum” franchise, with its three live-action movies, is one that caters to kids. So, naturally, the latest animated sequel, “Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again,” continues in that tonality. That doesn’t make all animated movies “kids’ movies.” It just makes this a movie meant for kids. With that out of the way, I have to say that this Disney+ Hotstar release, directed by Matt Danner, is awful. Everything from the narration to the jokes to the voice acting to the music is just plain boring. The animation is largely 2D, which I’m a fan of, but nothing remotely engaging happens. So, set your expectations to zero before you jump in.
Major spoilers ahead
What has happened in the ‘Night at the Museum’ franchise so far?
“Night at the Museum”, the first film, was about Larry taking on the job of a night security guard at the Natural History Museum and realizing that Pharaoh Ahkmenrah’s Golden Tablet had the ability to bring exhibits to life. . The only caveat was that the exhibits had to be in their original positions at sunrise. Otherwise, they would turn to dust. The antagonists in that movie were three elderly guards, Cecil, Gus, and Reginald, who apparently benefited from that tablet’s powers. So, they stole it, along with other valuables, and framed Larry for the whole thing. Larry convinced all the exhibits to put their differences aside and team up against the trio of veteran guards. If those guards got away with it, then the exhibits won’t be able to have fun at night. Larry and the rest caused a lot of ruckus throughout New York City and eventually caught up with the guards. Larry was initially fired by Dr. McPhee for “misplacing” or “misusing” museum artifacts. But when that brought a lot of people to the museum, McPhee forgave Larry and rehired him.
“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” takes place two years after the events of the first film and finds Larry as the owner of a company that sells his inventions via DRTV (direct response television). The exhibits were being replaced by their holographic versions while the exhibits themselves were being stored deep in the Smithsonian. But with the tablet in the American Museum of Natural History, they couldn’t come back to life at night. Jedediah later revealed that Dexter did take the tablet to the Smithsonian, which awakened Kahmunrah (Ahkmenrah’s older brother), thus beginning his plans to take over the world. Larry took the tablet from her hands, but then Kahmunrah took it back. However, he was unable to open the Gate to the Underworld and forced Larry to figure out how to do the same. In an attempt to save Jed from drowning in the sand, Larry aided Kahmunrah, who then unleashed an army of Horus warriors. Larry and his team fought back and banished Kahmunrah to the underworld. Larry then proceeded to sell his company and used the money to renovate the Museum, and extended its nightly visiting hours so people could interact with the exhibits, thinking they were animatronics, and hired reenactors.
“Night at the Museum: The Secret of the Tomb” began with a backstory from 1938, when locals warned a team of archaeologists, led by a young Cecil Fredericks, that removing the Tablet of Ahkmenrah from its tomb in Egypt would to bring about “the end.” In the present day, we saw an event hosted by Larry with the exhibits go horribly wrong when the tablet began to rot and corrode. Larry contacted Cecil and learned that Ahkmenrah’s parents Merenkahre and Shepseheret could restore the tablet’s powers and prevent the artifacts from running wild. But with Ahkmenrah’s parents at the British Museum, Larry and his son Nick traveled to the UK, watching the exhibition situation worsen. After reaching there, they learned that the tablet can be repaired by moonlight, as it was powered by Khonsu’s magic. However, Lancelot made the situation worse by stealing the corroded tablet, assuming it to be the Holy Grail. Larry and his team recovered it and fixed it under the moonlight. Then we get a fake ending with Ahkmenrah staying in London with his parents and his tablet. Which meant the New York exhibits wouldn’t come to life. Three years later, Tilly the night watch brought back the tablet, allowing the exhibits to celebrate again.
What is Kahmunrah’s plan?
Larry calls Nick from the Tokyo Museum (which is where Larry currently works) to remind him that the tablet brings them all to life and that they all need to be back at the museum by sunrise, or else they will turn to dust. On top of that, Larry tells him that he shouldn’t forget to lock the basement and the loading dock. He says that sometimes new exhibits come in and turn out to be dangerous. Due to Nick’s fear of cellars and the general creepiness of the artifacts found there, he freaks out enough not to lock the loading dock and simply places a statue in front of the door to prevent it from opening. That statue is obviously falling. Kahmunrah wakes up and heads downstairs to steal the almighty tablet. Why? He well, like any other villain, he wants to awaken his army from the underworld and rule the physical world. After escaping from the Natural History Museum, Kahmunrah goes to the Metropolis Museum of Art and awakens his loyal subjects.
What do you plan to do there? Well, as Theodore Roosevelt explained, Kahmunrah will use the tablet to bring the Temple of Dendur (the art exhibit, not the real thing) to life and travel back in time to ancient Egypt. That sets the new rule that paintings or posters brought to life by the tablet can act as portals to the time and space in which they exist. There is a good joke (although I suppose unintentional) where Roosevelt throws his sword Andy Warhol-inspired image of oil drums. The oil then spills and causes Kahmunrah to slip, making it difficult for him to get away from the heroes. Unless he’s been living under a rock, he’ll know that anti-oil activists have been throwing soup at famous (glass-protected) works of art. That’s why this seems like a reference to that. Regardless, Kahmunrah awakens the god of chaos, Seth, who helps him keep the heroes distracted while they can escape to Egypt. In case it’s not already clear, Kahmunrah is trying to prove his father wrong by being the best pharaoh ever (because Merenkahre didn’t allow it), and Nick is trying to prove his father right by being a good guard. night.
‘Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again’ Ending Explained: Does Nick stop villains from taking over the world and heroes from turning to dust?
After some unadventurous ramblings, which can also be defined as redundant whining and empty consolations, Nick and his team arrive at the Temple of the Sun because that’s where Kahmunrah and Seth are. That’s where Nick’s musical prowess comes into play, as he realizes that with three holy chords, Kahmunrah can summon her soldiers from the underworld, lead them through the painting portals, and wreak havoc. Then they realize they have to stop Kahmunrah before he hits the final note. Kahmunrah puts many obstacles in the way of the heroes. But, since they are the heroes and this is a children’s movie, the stakes are basically non-existent. That’s why they defeat the living statues, cats, snakes and all that and reach Kahmunrah. I’m sure Nick is making a Hawkeye joke because “Night at the Museum” and the MCU are owned by Disney. Kahmunrah brings out the army of the dead. However, Nick and his team not only defeat the army and send Kahmunrah and Seth into the void, but also return the exhibits to the museum via the poster Sacagawea had given him.
During the final moments of the film, Larry learns that Nick has done a good job of handling the museum’s shenanigans. This gives Nick the confidence to audition for Ms. Montefusco and also to ask out his dream girl, Mia. The film ends with a huge party at the Natural History Museum, with Nick DJing. Look, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that the first three “Museum Nights” are some kind of misunderstood masterpieces with deep and relevant messages about the problems plaguing our society. They were fluff. And although the first one was great; the rest was kind of nice. “Kahmunrah Rises Again” had everything going for it: a new medium, a new lead, and quite relatable stakes about two sons doing complete opposite things for their respective parents. This could have been interesting. However, the Disney-fication of the movie, which essentially forces each character to make a bland joke and then over-explain it, just kills all the fun about it. But is there going to be a new movie trilogy now with Nick as the lead? Well, it sure looks like this movie gets the response the studios are hoping for.
“Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again” is a 2022 animated drama film directed by Matt Danner.