Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Overlooked Movies: The Librarian: Quest for the Spear

A classic reprint from 12-06-2004. 

Last night there were several original movies on TV. HBO had the classy and well-reviewed Peter Sellers biopic. The Hallmark Channel had a comforting middlebrow fantasy called The Five People You Meet in Heaven with Jon Voigt. And TNT had the cheesy Da Vinci Code/Raiders of the Lost Ark rip-off, The Librarian: Quest for the Spear. Anyone who knows me will know immediately that I went for the cheesey rip-off. 

And I even watched all of it, though I was thinking all the time, "This is what we've come to. Starting with National Treasure, and now this, every movie made for the next ten years will be the same." And I was also thinking, "What a piece of crap." 

But, as I said, I watched it. 

There's no need to summarize the plot, since it makes very little (if any) sense. I kept watching mainly, I think, in hopes to see the rest of Kelly Hu's Serpent Brotherhood tattoo. (Ms. Hu, by the way, was seriously under-used in the movie. She was great in her few scenes.) 

There's no need to comment on the special effects. I've already said, "cheesey." That about covers it. If you could, for even a second or two, have believed that the stars (Noah Wyle and Sonya Walger, who has the best line in the movie) were walking over an actual bridge anywhere near an actual waterfall in one of the big scenes, you might have bought into the movie. But you couldn't believe it. Not even for a second or two. 

There was one point, however, at which I was willing to suspend my disbelief. Almost. The big martial-arts scene at the movie's climax features some of the lamest fighting I've seen since Diana Rigg turned in her leather suit. But even at that, to see Bob Newhart as a martial artist was worth sitting through the other two hours of the movie. Almost. 

Actually, if you can overlook the ridiculous plot and the cheesey effects, the cast is pretty good. Wyle is appealing as a geeky librarian, and Walger is aces as his hardboiled protector. I've mentioned Kelly Hu. Newhart is fine, as always. Jane Curtin has a small but entertaining role. Poor Kyle MacLachlan, though, must have needed the money. Desperately. Or maybe he just enjoyed being pure Virginia ham. 

You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll kiss two hours good-bye. 


Unknown said...

I was married to a Librarian and we watched all the movies in the series. How many were there? 30? 50? anyway, it seemed like I spent an awfully lot of time watching them.

Jeff Meyerson said...

We watched all three of the Librarian movies - I must admit Jane's snarkiness was a highlight, and Bob's martial arts scene - and each had a different "heroine" helping The Librarian. Unfortunately, when they turned it into a series, without Bob or Jane and with Noah Wylie barely in it, it was unwatchable.


Unknown said...

I did watch the second movie, but I never saw any of the series.

Mike Stamm said...

I've enjoyed the three Librarian movies, and to a slightly lesser extent the TV series, because they usually have good casts and they don't take themselves at all seriously. (Replacing Bob Newhart with John Larroquette was a stretch, though.) Your comment about the fight choreography was spot-on, though. I've been working my way through my Emma Peel AVENGERS set, and the fight scenes are usually awful if not worse. I don't know if any of this was intentional--that in the mid '60s it just would not do to have a woman definitively best a man--or just ineptitude in the face of a challenge that ITC TV had never had to face before. So combat in current TV that ranks as no better than AVENGERS fight scenes definitely needs a LOT of work.

Unknown said...

I saw those Avengers episodes on their original U.S. run, and the fights didn't seem as bad then. Maybe we were just used to crappy fight scenes. Now, they look totally awful.

Cap'n Bob said...

We saw this at Tankon years ago and the consensus was that it was enjoyable, even likable in places.

Todd Mason said...

We've gotten used to better fight scenes...but there was an AVENGERS repeat on the other week where Peel clocks another womah, who is leaping at Steed while he's looking the other way, rather convincingly. There might well've been some desire for her not to sow up the male actors too badly...and pretty clearly she never had much training nor choreography.