Friday, January 4, 2013

The Librarian: Quest for the Spear Movie Review

Most television release movies are released on TV or directly to DVD because they are low quality films, not likely to earn a great deal in ticket sales at theaters. There are exceptions where a TV release movie becomes wildly popular for some reason, like High School Musical. I found The Librarian: Quest for the Spear (2004) while I was working at my University's library. The appeal to me was a silly action adventure about a librarian. My expectations were low, but the movie exceeded those expectations by a lot.
Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle) is a 30-year-old perpetual college student who has managed to collect 22 university degrees. Despite his brilliance, shy Flynn seems to have a hard time with the real world, and his mentor at school finally has him expelled mid-semester so he can start putting his great knowledge to use. Things are not much better at home, where his mother, Margie (Olympia Dukakis), wants him to meet a nice girl and settle down on his own. Needing a job, Flynn finds an unexpected opening with the New York Metropolitan Library, where Judson (Bob Newhart) and Charlene (Jane Curtin) hire him to look after a special collection. This collection is unknown to the world; the library has been caring for the world's most precious relics, including the Holy Grail, Pandora's Box, the Golden Fleece, The Sword of Excalibur, and the real Mona Lisa (the real one; the Louvre only has a copy). It's not long before Flynn learns how dangerous his job can be when he's approached by Lana (Kelly Hu), Rhodes (David Dayan Fisher), and Wilde (Kyle MacLachlan), members of a secret underground mob known as the Serpent Brotherhood who happen to know that Flynn is the new guardian of the Spear of Destiny, the spear said to have pierced the side of Jesus as he hung on the cross, and will stop at nothing to take it from him.
The Librarian is about as historically accurate as most films of its type; Indiana Jones, The Da Vinci Code, etc. It features ancient artifacts that may or may not exist. Excalibur and Pandora's Box probably don't exist, but we like to believe they do. This Spear of Destiny is the spear that pierced Jesus's side as he hung on the cross and is said to be a powerful artifact that makes its wielder unstoppable. The Library divided it into three parts so it couldn't fall into the wrong hands. Hitler, they said, had only one piece. Nothing in this movie is based on actual facts, but it's fun to believe such things actually happened. As a result, you have to take the movie with a grain of salt and enjoy its silliness. It is not trying to teach or even be accurate. It is trying to be fun and entertaining.
This movie is an action-comedy; there's plenty of chases and silly fight scenes. You couldn't have asked for a better cast for such a light-hearted action-comedy. Bob Newhart as one of the curators at The Library was an excellent choice. Newhart is a stand-up comedian who is known for his deadpan delivery. In The Librarian, he plays kind of a curator at The Library. He's very blunt in his delivery, but very funny. The best actor is probably Noah Wyle. He's had lots of experience playing rather serious roles in television programs, and this was his first comedy role. He played the intelligent, bumbling twit type character very well; he tries to impress people with his smarts, but usually comes across as humorously awkward. The expressions that Wyle has as Flynn are priceless as he gets to see the world he's read so much about and apply his knowledge to real world experiences. He's just so full of wonder, it makes his character and the story all the more endearing.
The sets are reasonably good for being a television release movie, but the CGI special effects and pretty cheesy. They aren't exactly bad, but the CGI helicopter, for example, lacks proper shading, lighting, and texture, so it's obviously artificial. This isn't uncommon for television movies; they have a similar budget to television programs. But what was impressive is they actually filmed on location. They actually filmed in the Metropolitan Library, in jungles, in mountains, etc. That made the end result a bit more believable, even if the special effects were not.
Since The Librarian was a television release movie for the TNT channel, the content was subject to the FCC's censorship. That doesn't mean it has parts edited out or anything. The content is what you would find on TNT. It's a good family film that is funny and exciting. There is an implied sex scene, but it's no worse than a brief flirt and fade to black. I didn't think the implication was necessary, but it's not explicit by any means and is safe for any age of viewers.
The Librarian: Quest for the Spear was a fun, light-hearted action-comedy. It's not trying to teach a history lesson any more than Indiana Jones does. It's just trying to be a silly, fun, exciting, light viewing movie that is safe for the whole family. Even though it gets hokey at times, I think this movie achieves what it sets out to do. I thought it was enjoyable and fun to watch. I recommend seeing this when you're in the mood for a few chuckles and something that doesn't expect you to think very deeply about it. It's a good renter.

Do you have a favorite Television release movie? What is it, and why do you enjoy it? I don't want to miss out on anything good. Comment below and tell me all about it!

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