Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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One of the best memories I have with my father is going to see Raiders of the Lost Ark when I was seven. My parents had already seen it and Dad had left the theater knowing I'd love the film.

We were running late the night we saw it together (arriving just as Indy was brushing off the tarantulas) and as I walked through the backyard on the way out I struggled, as I had all day, to remember the character's name.

"What's this guy's name again?" I asked.

"Indiana Jones," my Dad said, and I scoffed at the silly moniker.

But after we left the theater later that night there was no way, NO WAY I would ever forget Indy's name again. Wow.

I wasn't looking to repeat history with my seven year old YaYa, but she'd heard the story and wanted to see Crystal Skull with me. I rented it and we watched it together recently. I'm a bit sorry we did, as I think it was only a so-so way to introduce a youngin' to the wonder of Indiana Jones.

I'm sure you've heard plenty about the film, good and bad, and I know some folks are quick to defend it by bashing naysayers and writing them off as the same kind of people who ripped the Star Wars prequels.

Well, yeah. After Empire, the SW franchise went to hell. Arguing otherwise doesn't change the facts. Here's another bit of truth: this Indy movie was a mess.

If you don't think about it too hard the plot and the storylines seem only vaguely blurry. If you ponder it for a second, it seems like a dozen ideas were tossed together with very little glue to hold them together, other than a vague tip of the hat to the Indy format.

The religious motifs of the first three films are abandoned here for a UFO conspiracy. Yes, I know UFO's are perfectly in tune with the film's time period (1957). So what? All three of the first films had fantastic elements tied together by the human search for a Higher Power, a deity - mankind's oldest desire. Here the 'higher power' is a very physical, albeit otherworldly set of beings. That takes something away from the film for me.

SPOILERS

Anyone who failed to discern Mutt's parentage evidently never saw a standard issue Movie of the Week, the chase scene was so long and boring it seemed like a joke, not to mention the lame Tarzan ripoff, and large parts of the movie were so over-the-top campy it reeked of Temple of Doom.

1. How do scores of heavily accented Russians manage to wander around McCarthy's America?

2. Why is Indy so cavalier about destroying a perfectly preserved 500 year old corpse?

3. How do any of the events of the movie restore the Dean and Indy to their positions? The whole reason for their dismissal was his association with a traitor. That's still true, and there's no physical proof Indy found anything in the jungle.

4. Speaking of traitors, why does Mac just give up his life so easily in the end?

5. No one else is put off by the idea of Indy basically being a tool of the government for 16, 17 years by that point? What happened to the independent (but patriotic) man who worked for the government only with hesitancy?

6. What happened to the Russian babe? I get that her mind melted, sure, but what a rehash of the end of Raiders.

END OF SPOILERS

I'm going to hear about this one, but I think Harrison Ford looked too damn old to be doing this sctick. Sure, he's in fine shape for his age, and I understand that it's possible to look past a birth date (I'd get in Betty White's Depends if I could, you betcha) but no way Indy's still doing this dance. Uh uh.

Cool parts? Sure. I enjoyed large chunks of the movie (the 'part-time' scene was grand) and it was a fun movie to watch But I think if it didn't have Indiana Jones in the title you're looking at a straight to DVD release, not a blockbuster.

As entertainment 2.8 out of 4. As an Indy flick, 2.5 out of 4. I rank it third best in the franchise, behind Raiders and Crusade.

4 comments:

Estela said...

I saw the movie in the theatre and I can barely remember it. I know it has to be hard to come up with something fresh when you are working it for a franchise, but maybe there are times when they just need to let it go. Rumor was that this movie was meant to move the franchise from Indy to his son for future movies. Not sure another one would be worth the watch.

Beth said...

I actually fell asleep midway through this movie when we were watching it a few weeks ago (at home). I'll go back and watch the bits I missed, but I think it says a lot that I was able to fall asleep.

One that kept me wide awake was "Shooter" with Mark Wahlberg, if you haven't seen it yet. We both like him, and I thought that movie was pretty good.

Beth

Bernadette said...

Sometimes I really think that they should just leave well enough alone and stop trying to re-make or continue the sequels.
With StarWars and LOTR being such money makers it seems like everyone thinks they can remake history...and somehow they think they can do it better than it really was. They remade Hairspray for pity sake. What's next, Grease?! or LMAO, Rocky Horror Show?! I guess people don't go to plays anymore.

HD can only make the picture look better, not the plot ;)~

megryphon said...

Having just watched Crystal Skull I concur with most of your findings and beg to add that much of what wasn't a rehash of Raiders was stolen from The Mummy Returns - i.e. the temple implosion, the result of greed (Mac's). Also, Indy did not "get his job back", he got a better position. As you say, in the era in which the movie was set, the FBI suspicions alone would have scotched that right quick.

;^) Jan the Gryphon
http://gryph-wotd.blogspot.com