Tag Archives: Indiana Jones

Librarian: Quest For The Spear

Despite the popularity of the Indiana Jones franchise, we somehow never got a whole genre out of them: we have racks and racks of kung fu and science fiction flicks, but no ‘archaeology adventures’ rack. There are films that draw on Indiana Jones imagery or themes (I’d actually put the last Indiana Jones movie in that category) but we don’t have mediocre genre flicks. Or so I thought until I saw Librarian: Quest For The Spear.

At root, L:QftS is a Noah Wyle vehicle designed to help the cute-as-the-dickens actor keep from getting labeled a one-hit wonder for his role in ER. In practice, the made for TV movie is a sort of comedic hommage to Indiana Jones which is unapologetic about packing every cliché and gag into one package. On the face of it, the cast is incredible. In addition to Wyle and Sonya Walger (who is apparently famous for being in Lost?) it also feature Bob Newhart, Kyle MacLachlan, and Jane Curtin (Kelly Hu and Olympia Dukakis also have small roles). That’s right: Jane Curtin and Kyle MacLachlan.

The plot of the movie is pretty straightforward: perpetually-ABD archaeologist Wyle stumbles on to a job working at a library that houses All Magic Artifacts (think Night At The Museum crossed with the warehouse where they file away the ark at the end of Raiders) presided over by Curtin and Newhart. Something is stolen and sensitive-scholar Wyle and tough-chick bodyguard Walger head to Tibet, the Amazon, etc. in search of it and eventually defeat MacLachlan. At the end there is a catfight between Hu and Walger over who gets to keep Wyle.

The movie is worth watching — despite how much it made me groan I never turned it off. It might even be teachable as an example of things that drive anthropologists crazy. In the end it ends up in a strange double-bind: it clearly aspires to be a cheesily comedic Raiders remake. At the same time, Wyle doesn’t really seem to have too much in the way of comic chops and, let’s face it, its not that funny. As a result the film both succeeds in being a bad remake while also being a genuinely bad remake.

Apparently Quest For The Spear is only the start — they’ve made two more The Librarian:$VERB $CONJUNCTION $MACGUFFIN films that I haven’t seen (they’re in the queue tho). I’d recommend them if you are looking for an excuse to eat popcorn, become mildly outraged at the presentation of your discipline, and enjoy some mind candy at the same time.

More on Indiana Jones and Treasure Hunting

“Material World”:http://blogs.nyu.edu/projects/materialworld/2008/06/what_is_treasure_hunting_what.html has a nice write up of two recent blog posts critical of presenting Indiana Jones as an archaeologist: one at Numistmatics And Archaeology called “That Belongs In A Museum”:http://coinarchaeology.blogspot.com/2008/05/that-belongs-in-museum.html and the less-subtly entitled “Indiana Jones Is A Plunderer”:http://safecorner.savingantiquities.org/2008/06/indiana-jones-is-plunderer-what-do-you.html

I’m not too sure what to say about this, except that I’d gladly trade the Archis Indiana Jones for Jared Diamond, the sociocultural bete noir.

Jones and Childe?

So I checked out the new Indiana Jones movie last night and was pleasantly surprised: the horrors of the Star Wars prequeldom were avoided, Shia Leboeuf (sp?) was great, and Cate Blanchett’s bangs exceeded even my fevered expectations. I also appreciated the revamped politics of the film, where mud-smeared, brown-skinned people are kept to a minimum, people make none-to-subtle allusions to McCarthyism and our own war on terror, and of course, this time he’s repatriating the artifact, right?

There was, however, one thing that I found odd — the scene where Jones tells a student to read V. Gordon Childe. Would a die-hard anticommunist really recommend a Marxist archaeologist to a student? And what would Jones — who spends most of the time in the field and seems narrowly focused on philology and case studies rather than grand theory — think of an archaeologist who was best known not for his fieldwork, but for high theory? And have the archaeology blogs already picked this one to pieces?

Harrison Ford elected to AIA board

My ever-tenuous grasp of the line between fantasy and reality seems to be slipping away again…

“Harrison Ford elected to the board of the Archaeological Institute of America”:http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iEHCPWfisNFJ-UBa2khwNGpFt3VQD90MAENO0


More Crystal Skull geekage

Entertainment Weekly (yes, I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly, not Atlantic Monthly. Sorry.) is featuring “another story on the new Indiana Jones flick”:http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20192043,00.html (unfortunately, only 1 picture of CB’s bangs tho) and — more mind-bendingly — Archaeology Magazine has its own cover feature on “The Truth Behind The Crystal Skull”:http://www.archaeology.org/0805/etc/indy.html. Archaeology is the official journal of the Archaeological Institute of America, which is sort of the applied wing of the Indiana Jones mythos. I have a soft spot in my heart for the AIA because of its willingness to admit that being an archaeologist is cool. What would happen if cultural anthropologists produced a glossy journal documenting the glamorous exploits of cultural anthros? Its exactly the sort of ‘public’ anthropology that would probably get us some attention…