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The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice (2008)

by on 2010/10/13

“I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling librarians.”

Wait, wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s start agin. This 2008 film, directed by Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (love) fame, was handed to me by Hacker Renders as we rifled through a discount rack in Bracebridge. I was attracted to it because I was once a librarian (and still am in my heart) and it had something vaguely to do with vampires. Or rather THE vampire, Dracula (love).

In addition, the movie had a Bob Newhart in it (love).

Librarian-Number One-Dracula-Newhart. That was a quadruple-decker sandwich of gotta buy. So I did.

Part of a series, Judas Chalice is a sequel to 2004’s The Librarian: Quest for the Spear and 2006’s The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines.

This instalment centres around the swash-buckling librarian Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle). Yes, you heard me, I said swash-buckling librarian. Flynn’s a special kind of treasure-hunting librarian who works for an organization bent on carefully obtaining and cataloguing all of the world’s most rare and dangerous artifacts.

Unfortunately for Flynn, the life of a librarian is murder on relationships. When he misses a dinner date with his shrill gal pal because he’s retrieving the Philospher’s Stone from sword-wielding bad guys, he chalks up another in a line of failed relationships.

When Flynn melts down in front of his employers played amusingly by Jane Curtain and Bob Newhart, they stammeringly suggest Flynn might need er, um … a vacation. Instead, Flynn holes up in his apartment, scattered with the cliché Chinese food cartons, until his drunken boss Charlene (Jane Curtain) dumps off an armload of vacation brochures.

These brochures (as they so often do) give way to a frightening psychic nightmare. While in this unsettling dream, Flynn meets the alluring  Simone Renoir (Stana Katic). Tracing the landmarks from the dream, Flynn dons a white linen suit, straw fedora hat and heads to New Orleans to find Simone.

From then on, Louisiana plays host to a series of live-action Scooby-Doo-grade thrills. Think fake cobwebs, crumbling stryofoam bricks, vampires, pirate ships and stolen seals that unlock ancient treasures. Don’t get me wrong, this not really a criticism. I always loved the schlocky Halloween special more than most things in life and Judas Chalice has Halloween schlock to spare.

Combined with the pseudo-spooky schlock, there are solid, quirky performances from Wyle and Katic, and Bruce Davison, as the decrepid Professor Lazlo, is creepy and convincing.

Judas Chalice is not great cinema but it is solidly-crafted, family-safe fun – evocative the old-time action/adventure films I used to watch on Saturday afternoons as a kid.

The real litmus test: would I seek out the rest of the series? The answer is yes.

Librarian-Number One-Dracula-Newhart = No regrets.

* * *

90 minutes

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