A series of three TV movies anchored in science fantasy seems like a hard sell, but these films kept being made about every 2 years, and they certainly entertained me, if no one else. Actually I think they were quite popular. With casting like Noah Wyle as the slightly goofy leading man/librarian, and Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin as his librarian bosses, I think you’re starting out ahead of the game. And the results were always fun.
In this, the 3rd and last before the TV series with Rebecca Romijn began (in which Wyle has guest-starred), Wyle’s character Flynn Carsen is trying to find the Judas Chalice, a chalice made from the 30 pieces of silver Judas took to betray Christ. The chalice, when filled with blood, can be used to reanimate (is “revive” a better choice of words?) vampires, and there exists a group of expat Russians who have discovered the approximate location of the grave of Vlad Dracul (Dracula to those who don’t follow vampire lore, or perhaps just prefer zombies) in New Orleans.
The film begins at an auction in England where Flynn has been given a strict limit to bid on a Ming vase. He keeps bidding and drastically exceeds the money that has been made available by the library, then proceeds to smash the vase. This odd behavior is the result of his sudden realization that the Philosopher’s Stone is hidden inside the layer of …. (what are Ming vases made of? Clay?) that forms the “bowl” of the vase. You can tell I know nothing about ceramics.
But I can say that the Philosopher’s Stone transmutes stuff into gold. And that Flynn has to get into a sword fight with one of those aforementioned Russians, their leader Sergei Kubichek, played by Dikran Tulaine, just to get the Stone out of there.
Sergei says, “You know you’re going to lose, Flynn.”
“Actually, I know two things. Your sword grip and tactics show me that you’re fighting with a German 14th-century sword style developed by Johannes Lichtenauer. Defeated only by the Renaissance technique taught by Hutton in 1892.”
“What’s the other thing you know?”
“The Renaissance style taught by Hutton in 1892.”
Three other actors do stand-out jobs: the heroine, Simone Renoir, is played by Stana Katic of “Castle” fame, and the old professor who knows too much for his own good is played by Bruce Davison, who does a fine job with the accent, and Werner Richmond plays Flynn’s friend and cohort in New Orleans with a smooth New Orleans voice. Richmond’s character is credited as “Andrew”, but I would swear that Flynn calls him “Andre”.
The film was directed by Jonathan Frakes and written by Marco Schnabel and David Titcher.
There is also a funny caption. In one scene Flynn needs Simone’s trained singing voice to break glass and he yells out, “High C, now!” And the caption says, “I see now.”