Star Trek + ER + Buffy = The Librarian

16-Jul-09 10:46 AM by
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I'm a fan of Jonathan Frakes, be he acting as Commander William Riker or directing silly sci-fi flicks. It's been two years since the second Librarian film, a made-for-TV series of action-adventure movies in the style of Indiana Jones. Looking back, I wonder why I judged the first two entries so harshly, as I thought the recent third film, The Curse of the Judas Chalice, to be a fun romp.

The main character, Flynn Carsen, is a young man with an eidetic memory and a knack for finding himself in trouble — a perfect combination for someone charged with finding and preserving all the artifacts of lore. His newest adventure sends him not through mountains, deserts, and other exotic locales (been there, done that, I suppose), but to New Orleans in search of the relic that made the first vampire.

And yes, this film features not just vampiric cups but vampires themselves (in much the way the fourth Indiana Jones film featured aliens — do we really need to suspend our disbelief this much?). But I love how stereotypical they aren't. They aren't pale, they don't wear all leather, they don't mope around, and they definitely don't sparkle. There's hardly anything to give away who is or is not a vampire. And really, isn't that how it should be? If I had to flop my sleeping schedule and change my diet, I don't know that it'd make me evil.

I've never seen Noah Wyle play any role other than Flynn Carsen or Steve Jobs, so I can't attest to his acting range, but one trait he has down cold is subtly competent. Flynn can get himself out of any situation, even if he is easily distracted and rarely sees them coming. Stana Katic (Quantum of Solace, The Spirit) as the love interest has a twinkle in her eye that reminded me of… I'm not sure who. Perhaps Famke Jannsen's character on Star Trek: The Next Generation? Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin (Third Rock from the Sun) are amusing in supporting roles as library staff.

Jonathan Frakes (can you spot his cameo?) directs the action well, though again, The Librarian scores points for execution, not originality. There was one odd transition, one scene that made no sense, and a plot twist that can be seen coming a mile away (when has Bruce Davison ever played a good guy?). There's also a plot device that's lifted right from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the ending is similar to Twilight. But it's obvious the actors are having fun, which makes it easy to empathize with them and the occasionally hard decisions they make.

The DVD's special features includes a deconstruction of the special effects, similar to the Pink Five video previously posted here. Though some are obvious, the extent of the subtle effects is astounding. A rural library becomes a metropolitan one; a townhouse becomes a cathedral. It's a stunning reminder that little of what we see out of today's Hollywood is truly authentic. Kudos to the actors for not letting that stop them from making a film on par, in both quality and enjoyability, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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