Librarian 3, The: Curse of the Judas Chalice (2008)

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Released 6-Jan-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Deleted Scenes-(6:42) Three sequences in feature quality.
Featurette-Making Of-(6:13) Before and After - basically use of blue screen
Featurette-Making Of-(:49) One VFX sequence - no audio.
Teaser Trailer-(1:02) Quest for the Spear - 4x3 TV promotion
Teaser Trailer-(1:30) Return to King Solomon's Mines : 16x9
Theatrical Trailer-(2:28) Does not look like TV : Excellent quality 16x9
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 90:09
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:40) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jonathan Frakes
Studio
Distributor
Electric Entertainme
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Noah Wyle
Bob Newhart
Stana Katic
Jane Curtin
Bruce Davison
Dikran Tulaine
Joe Knezevich
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Joseph LoDuca


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Highlights from previous Librarian movies.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   

    A big hit in the US for Turner Classic Movies, The Librarian series now has three instalments. First we had Quest for the Spear, followed by Return to King Solomon's Mines and now we have  The Librarian 3 : Curse of the Judas Chalice. Beyond Home Entertainment have announced the upcoming release of the trilogy in an economically priced box set. Like the first two, this third outing is low budget escapist adventure, but what it lacks in technical wizardry and big budget gloss of similar cinema releases  is compensated for, most of the time, by the exuberance and likeability of the cast, although the script and the director do not always serve them well.

    We join up once more with Flynn Carson (Noah Wyle) in the midst of an auction. Noah is the handsome but haplessly nerdy  "procurator" for the New York Metropolitan Library's secret collection of "historical" artefacts, stored in the bowels of the esteemed institution. Flynn is distracted from his auction task to purchase a "priceless" Ming vase by a telephone conversation with his girlfriend who is threatening to walk out on him. By the end of bidding the girl has fled Flynn, and the vase has been purchased at a price way over the library's budget, much to the chagrin of Flynn's immediate superior Charlene (Jane Curtin). Once the vase is in Flynn's possession he smashes it to the ground to reveal its contents, the Philosopher's Stone which has the ability to turn all it touches to gold. So the charming but bumbling Flynn has redeemed himself with Charlene and the library's curator, Judson (Bob Newhart). Flynn, frustrated and disillusioned by the conflict between his chores as a librarian and the demands of any romantic attachment, decides that he needs a vacation. When Charlene discovers that he intends to spend his break as a couch potato, she promptly dispatches Flynn to colourful Mardi Gras intoxicated New Orleans - courtesy of stock footage, acknowledged in the end credits. Very promptly Flynn becomes involved with a former KGB agent plotting to restore his motherland to her former glory by resurrecting Count Dracula, who is to command an army of "unkillable soldiers". Into the mix we add cabaret songstress Simone (Stana Katic) - pay attention to the lyrics of her introductory song - who eventually leads Flynn to a New Orleans crypt which houses the coffin of Prince Vlad Dracula. Somewhere in there also is the vampire scholar, Professor Lazlo (Bruce Davison). Flynn combats the vampire baddies as he attempts to retrieve the chalice used by the first vampire, Judas Iscariot. The vessel was made from the thirty pieces of silver Judas was paid to betray Christ. I never knew that!

    This is a mish-mash of pseudo educational, myth, history and scientific clap-trap. The screenplay, by Marco Schnabel, whose previous credits are mainly limited to Austin Powers movies, The Love Guru and Meet the Parents/Fockers,  tosses it all together, and some of the bits work while others do not. The worst scene is one which incongruously asks actor Wyle to cry, and the result is possibly the most embarrassing scene I've ever seen in a movie. That's a pity, for Wyle (TV's ER and Swing Kids) makes much of this role. He is attractive - though in a few scenes he looks exhausted - and likeable. Jane Curtin, of TV's 3rd Rock from the Sun and soon to be seen in I Love You, Man, and Bob Newhart (Elf) do well, as you would expect and Stana Katic (Quantum of Solace and Feast of Love) makes a good impression with her French femme fatale. It is good to see Bruce Davison (Longtime Companion) playing outside his comfort zone and making enjoyable ham out of his crippled professor, who is more important to the plot than you might expect. The enthusiastic playing by these actors is defeated at times by the sometimes plodding, at other times far too cutely choreographed, direction of former actor Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek : First Contact and Thunderbirds). Alarm bells ring in the first few minutes during an incredibly poorly staged sword fighting scene, and there are numerous instances of awkward set-ups and bad editing. There were moments in this film when I really didn't know what I was supposed to be looking at. The score by Joseph LoDuca (Evil Dead) also does not help, with its synthesised blandness. Its best moments come when it is strongly reminiscent of John Williams' Indian Jones scorings

    This is Saturday arvo fodder, good family fare that is mindlessly likeable and enjoyably exciting, to a degree. What it lacks is a bit of style from the guiding creative hands, namely the writer and the director. If we had that stylish flourish we wouldn't worry about the occasional weak special effect or hole in the plot. Cornel Wilde used to excel at this sort of fluff, as did the young Tony Curtis. But their "B" efforts had the expertise of the Hollywood studio system behind them. Interestingly, Noah Wyle has produced the second and third instalments in this series. Perhaps the undoubtedly well intentioned and amiable youngish actor is not well served by his producer half. Maybe the wearing of two hats contributed to that haggard appearance in a couple of scenes?
 

 

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a generally pleasing transfer of a made for TV movie. It lacks the crisp fidelity of the better cinema releases, but for its origins it is a superior example.
       
    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.
    The image is sharp and clean, with very good general detail, and good shadow detail. There is no low level noise.
    The palette used ranges from subdued library settings to vibrant New Orleans street scenes.
    Skin tones were extremely good.
    There are occasional instances of compression problems, but the transfer is generally free of any artefacts of any kind.
 

    There are no subtitles.
    The layer change occurs at 52:40 with a distinct momentary freeze in the action. This could have been easily avoided as there are numerous blackouts for commercials or network promotions.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

        There is only one audio stream on this local release.
        Unfortunately the audio on the review copy was faulty.
        According to the slick, and the PowerDVD software, the audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 Kbps. However, in fact there are only two audio channels on the disc - the front channels, right and left. There is no centre channel, no left and right surrounds, and no LFX. As a result the sound is very inadequate, particularly for this kind of film.
        The dialogue is always clear with no problems in comprehending what is being said.
        There are no sync problems.
        There is no crackle, pop or drop out on the two channels that are available.
        The music score by Joseph LoDuca is blandly effective, with heavy Indiana Jones influences. The surround and LFX channels were sorely missed.

    

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu :

       The main menu is quite attractive with minimal animation and the choral theme from the film. There are three options :

                                            *  Play Movie
                                            *  Chapter Selection : This leads to three screens each with four thumbnailed chapters, without audio or animation.
                                            *  Extras : There are three options :
                                                                                                  Deleted Scenes
                                                                                                  Before and After Visual Effects Sequence
                                                                                                  VFX Sequence - "Burning Torso"
                                                                                                  Trailers
     
Deleted Scenes (6:42) :
These "deleted" scenes are three sequences from the complete film, and I could see no difference. Technically identical to the feature.

Before and After Visual Effects Sequences (6:13) :
These sequences were very interesting, with "wiping" giving seamless switching from blue screen photography to the completed processed shots.
Presented 1.78:1 , 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 Kbps.

VFX Sequence - "Burning Torso" (1:49) :
Behind the scenes miniscule glimpse at three attempts at one small part of a special effect. Presented 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced but no audio. Subtitles indicate what is happening.


Trailers (5:01) :

Librarian 1 : Quest for the Spear (1:02) :
This is actually a TV promo for the movie, with the TNT programme information at the foot of the screen. Good quality, with print image approximately 1.87:1 in a 4x3 transfer, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio encoded at 192 Kbps.


Librarian 2 : Return to King Solomon's Mines (1:30) :
A good, action packed trailer presented in excellent quality at 1.78:1 in a 16x9 enhanced transfer with Dolby Digital audio encoded at 192 Kbps.



Librarian 3 : Curse of the Judas Chalice (2:28)
An excellent quality trailer, which actually looks like a cinema trailer, presented at 1.78:1, in a 16x9 enhanced transfer with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio encoded at 192 Kbps.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release - only February this year - has one featurette not included on the local issue, A Look Behind the Monastery Scene, as well as English subtitles.

Summary

    This is an enjoyable, harmless piece of family fare that should appeal to a wide range of ages. The script is a stew of too many ingredients, and the hit and miss direction hampers an enthusiastic cast. The performers do, however, triumph and this third Librarian entry should please the multitude of fans of the earlier efforts.
    

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using Component output
DisplayPhilips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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