April 05, 2010

Review of The Librarian: Quest for the Spear

I recently watched The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, a made-for-cable TV movie. A one-sentence summary of it goes like this: "When a magical artifact is lifted from his library, a meek librarian sets out to ensure its safe return."

Alas, it's a poor man's Indiana Jones and features similar Mesoamerican and Amazon Indian stereotypes. Here are some reviews of it:

The Librarian: Quest for the SpearThe Librarian: Quest for the Spear is the first in The Librarian franchise of movies which was originally released on American cable channel TNT in December 2004, directed by Peter Winther and starring Noah Wyle in the title role.The Librarian: Quest for the Spear (2004)Have No Fear The Librarian Is Here--or--How Temporary Brain Freeze Got The Best Of Me, September 19, 2005
By Brian E. Erland "Rainbow Sphinx"

"Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa," I should have known better but I bought it anyway. I simply couldn't help myself, I'm a sucker for anything dealing with the 'Spear of Destiny,' the legendary sword that pierced the side of Jesus as he hung on the cross.

How could I not have known it was going to be an inane comedy and not an exciting action/adventure a la Indiana Jones. Seeing the names of Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin listed among the cast on the back of the DVD case should have been a dead giveaway. I was a fool.

I can just imagine the conversation that must have taken place by the Hollywood 'Think Tank' that threw this one together. "Hey, how about this super secret, top security library like the one at the end of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark.' Only ours will have more than just the Ark of the Covenant. We'll have Excalibur, Pandora's Box, the Golden Fleece, the Holy Grail, the Spear of Destiny, H.G. Wells' Time Machine, the Goose that laid the Golden Egg, etc..."

[Getting the picture?]

"Then we'll have this librarian who's in charge of preserving and protecting all this stuff from an ancient and sinister cult like the 'Serpent Brotherhood' who want to steal the artifacts and rule the world. How about getting that Noah Wylie dude from 'E.R.', he's pretty popular with chicks right now and we'll need a couple of hottie's (Sonya Walger and Kelly Hu) to get the guys watching. It's sure to win the time slot!"

That's the 'Reader's Digest' version. Believe me when I tell you the extended, unedited version doesn't get any better.

Terrible waste of time..., December 11, 2006
By Ravi "travi_74" (Dallas, TX)

Rather than for prime-time viewing, this movie seems like it was scripted by, directed by, and made for 12 year olds. It looks and feels highly juvenile, immature, and really really stupid. I could trash this movie for hours, but I'll just leave it at this. I'm surprised so many people liked this movie, so go ahead try your luck.. maybe you'll like it too, but (as another reviewer pointed) if you don't like B-schlock movies, stay away.. stay FAR away... you have been warned... :-)

If you love King Solomon's Mines with Richard Chamberlain You'll Love this Turkey, July 21, 2006
By Davesfile2 (Pasadena, CA USA)

Perhaps I was expecting a different slant of Raiders of the Lost Ark but got a TV pilot that never saw, and rightly so, the light of day. Librarian indeed. The writers need to go to their libraries and look up how to write a good script because it sure wasn't evident here. Don't waste your money on this awful movie.
How DARE anyone compare this crap with Indiana Jones??The Indiana Jones movies are high quality entertainment, with good acting and good action scenes, whereas the Librarian is a stinking pile of garbage that should have never seen the light of day!!!! The acting is bad, the plot is horrible, and the special effects should be renamed into anything-but-special effects. Blurgh, I say. Blurgh!Comment:  Surprisingly, a lot of people loved this movie, giving it four and five stars on Amazon.com. Naturally, I agree with the reviews I've posted above.

We've all seen movies with an occasional scene that doesn't make sense. In The Librarian, almost every line, plot point, and character bit is a clunker. You literally could find something wrong with almost every moment in the movie.

In the DVD commentary, people talked as if Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin were Hollywood legends. Hollywood legends of the second-tier TV sitcom, perhaps. They're not exactly Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren or actors of that caliber.

And yet I watched The Librarian till the end. Mainly because of Noah Wyle, who's a poor man's Tom Hanks. The following blurb sums up his charms:

Librarian: Quest for the Spear, The

By David CorneliusIn fact, it’s Wyle who sells the picture. Yes, the film is overloaded with cheesy moments and cheap special effects, but we roll with them, forgive them, all because our guide on this tour of goofball adventure is an affable, oftentimes hilarious dopey guy. Wyle gives Flynn an endless supply of self-deprecation, but not so much that he becomes unlikable. The result is a geek hero worthy of his own film series.Yes, his own film series, but not this film series.

It does feel like a Saturday afternoon matinee for 12-year-olds. In the 1960s, this film might've been made with Don Knotts or Tim Conway as the star. In the 1980s, it might've been Mark Hamill, Richard Dreyfuss, or Kurt Russell slumming for a paycheck. In the 2000s it's Noah Wyle.

So give The Librarian: Quest for the Spear three points for Wyle and zero points for everything else. Rob's rating: 3.0 of 10.

For more on the subject, see Indiana Jones and the Stereotypes of Doom and The Best Indian Movies.

Below:  A typical scene that makes little sense when you think about it. Carsen receives a magical invitation but doesn't act surprised. He doesn't ask anything about the job he's interviewing for before showing up. He stands in line for hours without talking to or comparing notes with anyone. Etc.

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