Let’s make one thing clear: animation is not a genre; it’s a medium. Animation is not “meant for kids.” It’s meant to act as a canvas to tell a variety of stories that can range from horror to sci-fi, drama, action, noir, thriller, crime, mystery, etc. They can be aimed specifically at adults, teens, as well as kids, or all of the above. The “Night at the Museum” franchise, with its three live-action films, is one that caters to kids. So, naturally, the latest animated sequel film, “Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again,” continues that tonality. That doesn’t make all animated movies “kids’ movies.” It just makes this one a movie meant for kids. With that out of the way, I have to say this Disney+ Hotstar release, directed by Matt Danner, is awful. Everything from the storytelling to the jokes, the voice acting to the music, is simply boring. The animation is largely 2D, which I am a fan of, but nothing remotely engaging happens. Hence, set your expectations to zero before jumping into it.
Major Spoilers Ahead
What Has Happened In The ‘Night at the Museum’ Franchise So Far?
“Night at the Museum,” the first movie, was about Larry taking on the job of a night security guard at the Museum of Natural History and coming to the realization that the Golden Tablet of Pharaoh Ahkmenrah had the ability to bring the exhibits to life. The only caveat was that the exhibits had to be in their original positions by sunrise. Or else they would be turned into dust. The antagonists of that film were three elderly guards, Cecil, Gus, and Reginald, who apparently benefited from that tablet’s powers. So, they stole it, along with other valuable stuff, and framed Larry for the whole thing. Larry convinced all the exhibits to put aside their differences and rally against the trio of veteran guards. If those guards had their way, then the exhibits won’t be able to have fun at night. Larry and the rest caused a lot of ruckus all throughout New York City and eventually caught the guards. Larry was initially fired by Dr. McPhee for “misplacing” or “misusing” the museum’s artifacts. But when that attracted a lot of people to the museum, McPhee forgave Larry and rehired him.
“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” took place two years after the events of the first film and found Larry as the owner of a company that sold his inventions via DRTV (direct response television). The exhibits were being replaced with their holographic versions while the exhibits themselves were being put in deep storage in the Smithsonian. But with the tablet in the American Museum of Natural History, they wouldn’t be able to come to life at night. Later, Jedediah revealed that Dexter did indeed bring the tablet to the Smithsonian, which woke up Kahmunrah (Ahkmenrah’s older brother), thereby beginning his plans to conquer the world. Larry got the tablet out of his hands, but then Kahmunrah got it back. However, he failed to open the Gate of the Underworld and forced Larry to figure out how to do the same. In an attempt to save a sand-drowning Jed, Larry did help out 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 he extended its nighttime visiting hours so that 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 a team of archaeologists, led by a young Cecil Fredericks, were warned by locals that removing the Tablet of Ahkmenrah from his tomb in Egypt was going to bring about “the end.” In the present day, we saw an event hosted by Larry featuring the exhibits go horribly wrong as the tablet started to rot and corrode. Larry got in touch with Cecil and learned that Ahkmenrah’s parents, Merenkahre and Shepseheret, could restore the tablet’s powers and prevent the artifacts from going feral. But since Ahkmenrah’s parents were in the British Museum, Larry and his son Nick went all the way to the U.K., all the while witnessing the exhibits’ situation worsen. After getting there, they learnt that the tablet can be fixed with moonlight since it worked on Khonsu’s magic. However, Lancelot worsened the situation by stealing the corroding tablet, assuming that it was the Holy Grail. Larry and his team took it back and fixed it under the moonlight. Then we got a faux ending with Ahkmenrah staying back in London with his parents and his tablet. Which meant that New York’s exhibits wouldn’t come to life. Three years later, Tilly, the night guard, brought the tablet back, thereby allowing the exhibits to party 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 everyone to life and everyone has to be back in the museum by sunrise, or else they’ll turn to dust. In addition to that, Larry tells him that he shouldn’t forget to lock the basement as well as the loading dock. He says that sometimes new exhibits come in, and they turn out to be dangerous. Due to Nick’s fear of basements and the general creepiness of the artifacts lying in there, he gets spooked enough to not actually lock the loading bay and just puts a statue in front of the door to keep it from opening. That statue obviously falls over. Kahmunrah wakes up, and he makes his way to the ground floor to steal the all-powerful tablet. Why? Well, like every other villain, he wants to awaken his army of the Underworld and rule the physical world. After escaping from the Museum of Natural History, Kahmunrah goes to the Metropolis Art Museum and awakens his loyal subjects.
What does he plan to do there? Well, as explained by Theodore Roosevelt, Kahmunrah is going to 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 establishes the new rule that paintings or posters that are brought to life by the tablet can act as portals to the time and space they exist in. There’s one good joke (albeit an unintentional one, I suppose) where Roosevelt throws his sword at an Andy Warhol-inspired image of oil drums. So, oil spills out of it and causes Kahmunrah to slip, thereby hindering his attempt to get away from the heroes. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that anti-oil activists have been throwing soup at famous (glass-protected) pieces of art. That’s why this seems like a reference to that. Anyway, Kahmunrah wakes up the god of chaos, Seth, who helps him keep the heroes distracted while they can escape into Egypt. In case it isn’t clear yet, Kahmunrah is trying to prove his father wrong by being the best Pharaoh ever (because Merenkahre didn’t allow that), and Nick is trying to prove his father right by being a good night guard.
‘Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again’ Ending Explained: Does Nick Stop The Villains From Taking Over The World And The Heroes From Turning Into Dust?
After some non-adventurous dilly-dallying, which can also be defined as redundant whining and empty reassurances, Nick and his team get to 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 sacred chords, Kahmunrah can summon his soldiers from the Underworld, take them through the painting portals, and wreak havoc. So, they realize that they’ve got to stop Kahmunrah before he strikes the final note. Kahmunrah puts a lot of obstacles in the heroes’ path. But, since they are the heroes and this is a movie meant for kids, the stakes are basically non-existent. That’s why they defeat the living statues, cats, snakes, and whatnot and get to Kahmunrah. I’m sure Nick makes a Hawkeye joke because “Night at the Museum” and the MCU are owned by Disney. Kahmunrah does bring 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 get the exhibits back to the museum through the poster that Sacagawea had given him.
During the concluding moments of the film, Larry learns that Nick has done a pretty good job of handling the museum’s antics. This gives Nick the confidence to audition for Ms. Montefusco and also ask out the girl of his dreams, Mia. The movie ends with one big party at the Museum of Natural History, with Nick acting as the DJ. Look, I am not going to sit here and pretend that the first three “Night of the Museum” are some kind of misunderstood masterpieces with deep and relevant messages about the issues plaguing our society. They were fluff. And while the first one was great; the rest were kind of enjoyable. “Kahmunrah Rises Again” had everything going for it: a new medium, a new protagonist, and pretty relatable stakes about two sons doing completely opposite things for their respective fathers. This could’ve been interesting. However, the Disney-fication of the film, which essentially forces every character to make a bland joke and then over-explain it to death, simply kills anything that’s fun about it. But is there going to be a new trilogy of movies now with Nick as the protagonist? Well, it sure looks like it if this film gets the response that the studios expect.
“Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again” is a 2022 Animated Drama film directed by Matt Danner.