East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Late supper with the Librarian


57d8f1a684ae92c76eea3fb7-1474283883713I spent last night watching the second of the three TV-movies in The Librarian franchise.
It’s like riding a seesaw – and if I actually enjoyed the first Librarian movie, the second was a terrible let down.
The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines is an African adventure aimed at a younger audience that fails to capture the simple goofishness of the first movie. And yet, the cast is more or less the same, the plot is a simple piece of chewing-gum and everything should go for the best.
Only it does not.
A pity, really – but no matter how much I wanted to like it, I sank into a bottomless barrel of boredom.

The plot: having recovered a crystal skull (take that, Indiana Jones) librarian/adventurer Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle) receives a scroll of a map showing the location of King Solomon’s Mines. The map is stolen, and Flynn has to get on the tracks of the thieves to protect the world from what’s actually hidden in the Mines.

Could be worse, right?
In his adventure, Flynn is soon joined by archaeologist Emily Davenport (Gabrielle Anwar) and the two travel through Africa and bicker incessantly and then face the bad guys.
Turns out Flynn’s father was a Freemason and a descendant of the original masons that built King Solomon’s underground complex, and he gave Flynn instructions on what to do in case of emergency through the fairy stories he told him at bedtime. Or something.
This is the first weak point.

The Librarian 2: Return to King Solomon's Mines

In the first movie, Flynn was an ultra-competent nerd that could use his weird collection of fringe knowledge to face the bad guys. Here, he is still that,. But he’s also the last heir of a long line of conspirators that protect a secret knowledge. This cheapens the character, turning him into just another man of destiny.
Also, he has very little to do – he only has to remember what his dad used to tell him at bedtime… and should he forget, he can check his childhood sketches, that his mom (Olympia Dukakis) has slipped in his bag.
This is lazy writing.


The plot follows more or less H. Rider Haggard’s novel, but once again there is no joy or wit in the references, and basically the sense of deja-vu compounds the general boredom. Ditto the tired Casablanca in-jokes.
We get long shots of the characters walking through deserts and savannas but there is very little adventure here. The plot twists are painfully predictable (not in itself a big problem) but are executed with such deadpan lack of panache that they fail to impress (and this is a big problem).

MV5BMTMwNDY3MzAzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODY0MDg3._V1_Add less-than-snappy dialogue and a general tiredness, and the end result is very weak. In the end all that remains is Gabrielle Anwar (beautiful and under-used) and a general sense of relief that the thing ended.

A pity, really, because the series, as I mentioned previously, has a lot of potential, and is just right for a young adult audience.
Or would be, should the movies keep up the standards set by the first.

Now I’ll have to try and catch the third, to see if at least two out of three entries in the series are good.
I’ll keep you posted.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

4 thoughts on “Late supper with the Librarian

  1. I watched about half of the first season of the television series and mostly enjoyed it. I’d have watched more but I kept finding other series that I enjoyed more so (coupled with my limited TV watching time) I haven’t made it back yet. Flynn has only made a few appearances and I’ve never enjoyed his character. That’s kept me from checking out the original fims.


    • Same here, watched a few episodes of the series, and then decided to check out the movies.
      Flynn is a lot less insufferable in the movies, but obviously your mileage may vary.
      In general it’s a fun concept and mostly well executed – yesterday I described it as a Frankenstein monster of bits and pieces of second hand ideas, but at least the pieces are nicely assembled.


  2. I thought the third movie was the worst of the lot. I didn’t like the tv show much either – it was too childish and felt curiously out of date. I didn’t like any of the characters either – shame because the library itself is a good idea.


    • The characters are somewhat unpleasant, I have to agree – I explained that to myself as a requirement for adult characters in a young-adult story. But maybe I’m just cynical.
      I saw the third and I actually liked it better than the second (I’ll post about it) despite it being very lightweight. Let’s say I had very low expectations, and was happily surprised 😛


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.