The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines

About half-way through The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines, I checked my watch. And again about 30 minutes later. By then, our hero was engaged in a crisis of conscience: should he save the world, or gain the power to alter the space-time continuum and thereby reacquaint himself with his father? My own dilemma was just as pressing: would I continue, or call it a day and start the new Jhumpa Lahiri book of short stories?

I wasn’t checking my watch, or glancing enviously at my new stack of books received for Christmas, because this second installment of the series was poorly made or banal. It has all the shine of the original, The Quest for the Spear. Noah Wyle is charming as the brilliant and socially awkward Flynn Carsen, the newest in a long line of librarian who act as custodians of powerful artifacts. Bob Newhart and Jane Curtain are as dry as a good martini. And Gabrielle Anwar’s character, who has 3 more degrees than Flynn, is nerdy, forceful, and turned on by knowledge. Return to King Solomon’s Mines even has Erick Avari, who has been in everything from Heroes to Stargate to The X-Files.

No, I think I was undergoing something of a Librarian-overdose. Two similar movies in three days; two quests for powerful objects with well-researched mythologies; two will-they-or-won’t-they couplings between amorous hero and reluctant heroine. At first blush, very little changed from the first to the second movie, and I was starting to feel like I was watching a different staging of the same play. I made it to the end, then buried my nose in a good book.

But now, a day later, I’m revising my opinion. Like any sequel, this second film was forced to continue what the first did best; the skill comes in making it feel fresh and spontaneous, which it did. The jokes were funny, and didn’t reiterate the humorous asides made in the first. Rather, they reflected the impressive character development that Flynn has undergone since we last saw him, on his first adventure to save the world. He’s moved out of his mother’s house, and evidently broken up with Penelope (I guess she’s busy tracking down Desmond, which is probably for the best). His new love interest is radically different from Sonya Walgar’s Nicole—not a shabby feat to pull off, and one that speaks well for the attention to characterization on the part of the writer, director, and cast.

Flynn is far more confident, and at times even seems to be chomping at the bit for more authority and say-so in the Library’s affairs. Whereas in the Indiana Jones movies, the most obvious source for the Librarian adventures, Indy never quite seemed to change (with the exception of that most recent one, which I will speak of no more), Flynn is growing up and turning into the man his mother, and we, hoped he would become.

Even the plot seems a bit more complex. The ending refuses to be easy, at least as far as Flynn’s personal life is concerned. And without giving away any twists, I can still say that the mythology of both the library and Flynn’s participation in the universe of mystical objects has started to blossom. In a way, it’s surprising that this series was never made into a television show: I could imagine us bloggers and fans making charts, genealogical trees, and graphs to show relationships; creating useless and addictive websites; invading Comicon.

What we have, instead, is just one more installment, The Curse of the Judas Chalice. I’ve only seen bits and pieces of it, enough to know that it is set in New Orleans (Best. City. Ever.) and has vampires, which are always good. I’ll probably review it someday, but right now I need a bit of a break from fun-loving adventure. So my recommendation? Check it out, but not right after the first one. Maybe break up your Librarian marathon with a spot of reading, instead.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

1 comment:

Billie Doux said...

Okay, Josie, you made me laugh out loud. Good job. :) And another nicely done review.