The Librarian: Quest For The Spear (2004)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 2/3/08
Producer: Dean Devlin
Cast: Noah Wyle, Sonya Walger, Bob Newhart, Kyle MacLachlan, Kelly Hu, Jane Curtin

This goofy movie is probably the best video game adaptation I've ever seen. Too bad it's not actually based on a video game... Flynn Carsen (dorky Noah Wyle) is a professional student, having attended college for sixteen years and holding over twenty degrees. Everything is great until he gets kicked out of school and is forced to find a real job. Fortunately for him, he has been scouted by the Metropolitan Library to become their new librarian, responsible for guarding such treasures as Excalibur, Pandora's Box, the Ark Of The Covenant, the Golden Fleece, and the Spear Of Destiny among others. When a piece of the spear is stolen by the Serpent Brotherhood, Flynn must become a hero and save the world by not allowing the other two pieces to fall into the wrong hands. Aided by a female bodyguard named Nicole Noone (Sonya Walger), he treks to the Amazon Jungle and the Himalayas to secure the other pieces (which end up in the wrong hands anyway). Through sheer dumb luck and his uncanny knowledge of ancient cultures he manages to come through. One of the few cinematic instances I've seen of the nerd coming out on top.

Yes, it's cheesy and the writing is firmly tongue-in-cheek so that no one takes anything overly seriously. The visual effects are supremely tacky and add to the goofy charm of the film. The structure of the film is oddly reminiscent of a level in a "Tomb Raider" video game, with its globe-trotting scope, mystical locations, supernatural architecture, and overly elaborate traps. The film has a great opportunity to showcase some female action pieces, but they're very poorly realized. Sonya Walger doesn't seem to be able to pull off the tough chick persona in a convincing way, whereas her counterpart Lana (delicious Kelly Hu) has no problem at all. In fact, Ms. Hu can knock someone down with just a well placed glance. She is sadly underutilized, but she does have some amusing moments due to her pathetic crush on Flynn. Naturally, the fight choreography and execution are lame and embarrassing, but it all builds up to the film's single most mind-blowing moment - Bob Newhart fighting. At this point it doesn't matter that the fight scenes are silly, since it's all your mind can do to wrap itself around the notion of a 75-year old Bob Newhart throwing punches as an ex-Marine. It's one of the most surreal and utterly absurd things I've ever seen... The film is peppered with this kind of silliness, and that's what gives it its innocent and naïve charm. It's purely unabashed made-for-TV fluff, and never strives to be anything more.