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Indiana Jones' Influences
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Tales of the Gold Monkey
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King Solomon's Mines
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DuckTales: The Movie

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The Librarian: Trilogy
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TheRaider.net Research Indy's Influences Legacy The Librarian: Trilogy
 
The Librarian: Trilogy
 

Quest for the Spear - 2004
Return to King Solomon's Mines - 2006
The Curse of the Judas Chalice - 2008

Executive Producers: Dean Devlin, Kearie Peak, Marc Roskin
Screenplay by: David Titcher (first film),
Marco Schnabel (second & third films)
Directed by: Peter Winther (first film), Jonathan Frakes (second & third films)

Starring (in all films):
Noah Wyle .... Flynn Carsen
Bob Newhart .... Judson
Jane Curtin .... Charlene

 

The Librarian trilogy, a series of television films subtitled, Quest for the Spear (2004), Return to King Solomon’s Mines (2006), and The Curse of the Judas Chalice (2008), plays like a throwback to early ‘80’s adventure fantasy. In the credits one half expects to see the names Chris Columbus and Steven Spielberg. While such is not the case, writer David Titcher and producer Dean Devlin were clearly nostalgic for high-spirited fun in the style of Gremlins, The Goonies, Back to the Future, Young Sherlock Holmes, and Romancing the Stone. Indiana Jones’ quest for the Lost Ark, Sankara Stones and Holy Grail provide the most obvious influence, and the filmmakers make no effort to hide it.

Film: Return to King Solomon's Mines
Noah Wyle & Bob Newhart in the Library.

Conceptually, the series offers ingenious promise. At its start, Noah Wyle's Flynn Carson has been resistant to move from pupil to professional. After earning 22 degrees (4 in Egyptology), all while living with his mother, a professor finally pushes him into "the real world."

Flynn gets hired as a librarian but this library holds a big fat secret — all the world’s fantastic treasures are housed deep in its well-guarded basement. Revealed to Flynn is the Ark of the Covenant (exactly as it looked in Raiders of the Lost Ark), Golden Eggs belonging to a special goose and Excalibur, among other improbable possessions. Then, the day after Flynn starts, the Spear of Destiny is stolen.

Film: Quest for the Spear
Sonya Walger & Noah in Quest for the Spear.

Long-time guardians of the library, played with a sharp easy wit, are Jane Curtain and Bob Newhart. They assign Flynn with the task of saving the world. The Spear must be returned, they inform him, before its special powers provide global domination to the evildoers who grabbed it.

Such is the basic formula played out in each of the three films. The overall quality remains at a high level throughout the trilogy, though some special effects seem unpolished (even for a television budget). While the series’ success should be credited to all who contributed, the talent that stands the highest here is Noah Wyle. He delivers a screwball comedy era performance as if he’s been perfecting it for years -- while roles like this haven’t really been performed in decades. His geeky enthusiasm is infectious and charming. Wisely, the camera rarely leaves him.

Film: Return to King Solomon's Mines
Noah & Gabrielle Anwar in Return to King Solomon's Mines.

But, The Librarian trilogy’s best asset — the main character — also turns into somewhat of a liability. While the external world of Flynn Carson changes dramatically, his internal world remains barely touched. Flynn pulls his face out of the books, experiences extraordinary adventures, but "the real world" his professor pushed him into has no profound affect on him.

There are fine touches added here and there; the lonely bookworm geek becomes the lonely protector of a well-guarded secret; a heroine who mocks him initially develops affection for him once she gets to know him, but there are no pivotal scenes that demand Flynn Carson evolve.

Film: The Curse of the Judas Chalice
Stana Katic & Noah Wyle
in
The Curse of the
Judas Chalice
.

Writer Marco Schnabel and Director Jonathan Frakes took over parts two and three of the trilogy. Results would indicate they had terrific fun with the series, tossing in classic film influences while maintaining a disciplined straightforward narrative each time. The casting is brilliant. Watching Bob Newhart inform Flynn Carson that "The… um… fate of the world… is… um… probably in your hands," is to witness what makes these films so charming.

Producer Dean Devlin hopes the series will continue. Original comic books are being published, and there is talk of a feature film. Hopefully, that will happen. This trilogy could be a foundation on which to build something durable. The trick would be to expand on its originality and depth of character, while allowing what is derivative to become simple decoration. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, when Indy says to Belloq, "All I want is the girl," we see a changed Indy. In Star Wars, Han Solo goes from saying, "I’m in it for the money" to "May the Force be with you." Recreating the magic of early ‘80’s fantasy adventure, when it was really good, requires more than stealing the fun. The talents are certainly here, but what of the ambition? (Stephen Jared)

 

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