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STUDIO: Warner
MSRP: $19.98
RUNNING TIME: 106 min.
• Intro by Noah Wyle
• Behind the Scenes
• Special Effects Commentary
• Stills Gallery

The Pitch

“It’s Indiana Jones and Men in Black tripping over each other in the dark!

The Humans

Noah Wyle (ER), Kyle MacLachlan (Showgirls), Sonya Walger (CSI: NY), Jane Curtin (Coneheads), Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck), Bob Newhart (Newhart), Kelly Hu (Martial Law)

The Nutshell

Wyle plays a full-time scholar with twenty-two college degrees and no ambition. Turns out he’s just the man Bob Newhart needs to oversee a super-secret museum of legendary artifacts— the Holy Grail, the sword Excalibur, Pandora’s Box, they’re all there. Which makes the job more that of Curator than Librarian, but whatever. When some goons break in and steal the Spear of Destiny, a globe-ambling chase casually ensues.

"Gimme another five minutes on Low."

The Package

The transfer, 16:9 anamorphic from HD video, provides a convincingly film-like appearance, though atmospheric effects and highlights tend towards haze. Dolby 5.1 audio.

The first extra, meant to be watched prior to the movie, is an almost apologetic introduction from Wyle in which he admits that six years on ER didn’t really prepare him for this sort of project. There’s also a fluffy making-of, a standard animatic breakdown of two FX sequences with commentary from the director, a handful of still photos, and the original TNT promo spot. The cover art boasts that this is an “Extended Edition”, but doesn’t say what was added or why this thing needed to be 15 minutes longer.

"Wanna know why we call him Sammo Hung? Wanna?"

The Lowdown

Or should I say, ha ha, the SLowdown. There’s no reason for a movie like this to be quite so boring. Most of the fault lies in the title character himself: The concept of a guy who can master any situation due entirely to his own book-smarts may sound good in theory, but it requires damn good scripting (and tons of research) to pay off. Wyle gives it a shot, but he’s stranded most of the time because the writers haven’t devised clever enough things for him to do.

Then there’s the pacing. It’s a full half-hour before the story proper gets started, and longer still before we see anything resembling a major action set-piece. There are enough of these movies around already that we really don’t need yet another trip through that secret door and into that elevator that goes that far down to that place where the stuff you read about in the Weekly World News turns out to be true. It was already an old joke in Men In Black, unnecessary in Hellboy, and just a waste of precious time here.

"I see it there… but I feel it here!"

Of the impressive supporting cast, only villains Kyle MacLachlan and Kelly Hu seem to be having any fun. Newhart looks embarrassed, but then again, he always does. Joseph LoDuca’s music is shockingly derivative—I defy anyone not to cringe during the fake Kill Bill number. The FX are of generally high-quality but function more as a demo for HD/greenscreen production methods than anything else.

A sequel is threatened.

4 out of 10