Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Librarian: Quest for the Spear 

I had a chance yesterday to watch this, which Tivo kindly recorded for me Sunday evening while I was watching Wrong Turn (hey - a girl can't study 24 hours a day, you know). Goofy but very fun, and lots of giggles for geeks like me.

Noah Wyle is Flynn Carsen, a perennial student with 22 - count em, 22 - degrees to his name, and working on number 23. His advisor decides that the educational system is doing Flynn a disservice by allowing him to avoid getting out into the real world, so with the Dean's permission he signs off early on Flynn's latest degree, timing it such that Flynn can't possibly enroll in another program for at least six months. The advisor breaks the news to him immediately after we've witnessed the installation of the capstone on the university's 1/20th size model of The Great Pyramid. This scene opened with Flynn leading students through the mysteries of the pyramid and the ancient Egyptians and he seems really cool and full of wisdom, but then the camera pulls back to reveal that they're in a model in a museum rotunda, and it appears that the other students think he's a dork (one of my classmates and fellow ACS-ers called me a dork on Saturday after I related to her in an IM that I was blogging from the floor by my locker). One calls him a freak.

Anyway, after Flynn gets the boot, the camera angles up and we see Bob Newhart looking down from an upper level.

The rest of a movie, in a nutshell: he's in his 30's, has never been out of school, and lives with his mother, Olympia Dukakis. Olympia is of course continually setting him up on blind dates. He gets a mysterious invitation to apply for a "prestigious" job at the Metropolitan Library. Upon arrival, he waits in line for hours and then faces grilling from Jane Curtin. After demonstrating his unerring eye for noticing details and a skill with wide-ranging pieces of information, plus a little homespun wisdom courtesy of Olympia, he lands the job, in which he will be supervised by Jane and Bob.

Turns out "The Library" is a repository of priceless legendary artifacts such as Excalibur, Pandora's Box, and The Spear of Destiny. Kyle MacLachlan promptly steals one of the pieces of The Spear, and hijinks ensue.

On his first full day on the job, Flynn is assigned the task of deciphering a previously undecipherable lost language in order to locate the other two pieces of The Spear, one of which is hidden somewhere in the Amazon. Along the way he must deal with Kyle, his enforcer (an Asian woman - why is it tha twhen the evil enforcer is a woman, she's evil?), and his evil group, the Brotherhood of the Serpent. He also must deal with Nicole, the Library's enforcer. It's kind of a Slayer-Watcher thing, with the attractive woman as muscle and the geeky guy as the brain.

I was briefly reminded of an episode of Fantasy Island, in which Ken Berry played a sheltered librarian whose fantasy was to have an adventure in the "real" world. He of course was able to win battles and solve the mystery due to the many skills he had acquired by reading about them over the years. The Librarian at least had most of Flynn's contributions be intellectual rather than physical, in contrast to Ken Berry's being able to defeat a fencing master because, although he had never before touched a foil, he had read about fencing.

Anyway, aside from a couple of minor issues (the height related CGI was incredibly bad, such as during the skydiving scene and the bridge over the chasm scene; also, we're apparently supposed to believe that the ancient book is made of some antiquarian secret waterproof material, because it survives numerous dunkings into the Amazon), Librarian: Quest for the Spear was entertaining, well-done, with a lot of stuff for geeks of all flavors (history, archeology, anthropology, biology, techie gadgets, you get the idea), and some fun dialogue. Among my favorite lines:

Jane Curtin, in response to Flynn's suggestion that they report the Spear theft to the police: "I hear thorazine comes in vanilla now."

Flynn, on receiving his assignment: "I really think that you should have a parking place before you get assigned to fight an evil conspiracy."

"What do you think is below the surface arrogance?"
"More arrogance, and then perhaps a few delicious layers of flaky disdain, all around a creamy sweet center of homicidal rage."

"The spear opens a portal that must be kept closed." Of course, there's always a portal. This particular one (surprise - it gets opened) reminds me of the Starfire in Babylon 5. I wonder if Mira Furlan (formerly Delenn on B5, more recently known as Danielle the crazy French woman on Lost) could use it on the Island? And by the way - does Kyle MacLachlan remind any other B5 fans of Neroon?

"Why are you smiling?"
"Because there are time-traveling ninjas out to kill us."

And my favorite:

"Get your own geek."

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:30 AM