Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Indy 4

I went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull last Sunday night. The Verdict: I was disappointed. George Lucas’ sticky fingers are over this film and frankly it’s a mess. There’s too much CG, and there’s not enough care and attention paid to the plot and characters. People were introduced in such a haphazard manner and so I never cared about them for the entire movie. Basically, the Indiana Jones franchise has moved closer to something akin to the Mummy Movies… and I hate those films. It’s not as bad as say the Star War Prequels but I guess that’s not saying a lot.

I didn’t have a problem with 1950s setting, which includes things like cold war paranoia, atomic age sci-fi and Rock and Roll. It was actually fun to see Indy dealing with these things and they’re very endemic to the time. Remember both movie serials and the pulps (which Indy epitomizes) both died in the 1950s, so the sense of handing off the franchise to a new generation was fine.

I guess when it comes down to it there weren’t that many surprises because everything was broadcast so far in advance long before it happened. So, to enjoy Kingdom of the Crystal Skull you have like the ride but the CG heavy effects and plot problems constantly took me out of the film. Monkeys anyone?

Here is what I liked in no particular order (spoilers):

Indy survives a nuclear explosion! That was very cool. Ridiculous yes, but a nice meeting of pulp age and the Atomic age.

Cate Blanchett was great as the main villain.

Indy’s discussion of his time in WWII, maybe we’ll get at book about those adventures.

The valley was destroyed at the end of the film

The alien-lost world was sound as a idea if not the execution.

The Marcus Brody Statue thing was nice

Jokes about Jones age.

The motorcycle chase

traditional stuntwork used

The fencing jokes and gags.

Making Mutt a greaser.

Just seeing Indy in the old gear again.

I actually like the whole X-Files aspect of the film.

Here is what I disliked in no particular order (spoilers):

Too much exposition dialog. Show don’t tell.

LeBeouf as Tarzan flying through the air at 70 miles an hour with a monkey attack, not fun just silly.

I hated George "Mac" McHale being revealed as a traitor early in the film. That made him superfluous and unlikable for the whole movie.

Why was Harold Oxly in the film? This character had no other point than to mutter exposition. He was one character too many.

The Indy meeting with Marion moment was hijacked by being in the middle of too many other events going on.

Why were there some Brazilian Capoeira guys in a Peruvian cemetery?

Digital grading was used and it made the characters look unreal or fake at various points in the film. It was unnecessary

Seeing a CG prairie dog in the fist 10 seconds of the movie was not a good omen.

Wow, that Nevada base was not well guarded and it’s funny that guys that speak only Russian can just traipse through 1950s US.

It didn’t seem like the Soviets really needed Dr. Jones.

Too many nods to previous movies and unfortunately they got in the way of the story.

Too predictable

Did I mention the Monkeys?

Missed Opportunities:

I wanted an opening sequence that was only tangentially connected to the rest of the story like the previous Indy films.

I wanted Spalko to make more of a pass at Mutt. (I’m just sick like that).



Arkonbey said...

It's interesting that you mention the comparison to the Mummy franchise. I've always thought the same thing. Raiders was a work of enduring genius full of homages to it's serial short roots.

I enjoyed the original Mummy for the same reasons. But, the sequels for both? Terrible. Terrible. Terrible*. Why couldn't they have left both of them well enough alone?

BTW: I've been really liking on your 'what I liked/disliked/missed opportunities' review style.
* Though none of the Mummy sequels had a line as good as "We named the dog Indiana!"

Stephen said...

i concurr i wish spalko was more sexed up and seductive

Dean Wormer said...

Fair review.

I enjoyed the film more than you did but totally see why you and Overdroid would hate it. It had Lucas' stank over quite a bit of it.

I think the calculation that Ford and Spielberg made was a choice between never getting to work together again or letting the crazy guy in the attic have his way.

That's kind of how I approached the movie as well. I went to see Harrison Ford and Karen Allen and see flashes of the young Spielberg. In that sense I wasn't personally dissapointed.

As for the monkeys- I hated the Tarzan thing although, as you point out, the homages in this film are to the films of the 50s.

I would just remind you that Raiders had a crazy intelligent little spider monkey in it as well...



Arkonbey said...

crazy intelligent little spider monkey

How crazy-intelligent, yet still ate poisoned dates.

Dr. Zaius said...

I guess that i will wait until it hits HBO, I guess. (Although I am intrigued by the CG prairie dog, I must admit.)

Overdroid said...

To anyone (including Dean) that feels compelled to say "the other Jones movies had crazy illogical thing X, so you should overlook crazy illogical thing Y that happened in the crystal skull movie."

Please stop making that point.

1. I got sick of hearing that during the Basher/Gusher conflict over the Star Wars prequels. Just because a good movie has fantastical elements and a similar bad movie has fantastical elements doesn't make those fantastical elements from the bad movie acceptable. A good (or great) movie makes it possible for me to believe those impossible or improbable things, that's what makes it GREAT. A bad movie has me rolling my eyes at them.

2. This is subjective. I'm sure there are people out there who rolled their eyes at E.T. or Sixth Sense or Star Wars or the original Indiana Jones. I like movies with Fantasy and Exciting incredible stunts and impossible magical events, but if you go too far you've lost me. I, for example, hated the nuclear fridge scene. I pretty much zoned out on the movie after that. For some reason the life raft jump in Temple was ok to me. Go figure. Another example (IRON MAN SPOILER) - I (just barely) swallowed the things that happened to Tony Stark in the Iron Man movie that should have killed a person even if they are wearing a suit of high tech armor. But I was ok with them. The fridge thing to me was impossible. The quality of the movie and how it's presented is what makes a difference.

Swinebread said...

Arkonbey – While I was just watching Indy 4, I keep thinking of the Mummy. I didn’t really like the first one although I didn’t hate it. I think I just wanted more Indiana Jones and so I settled for the Mummy.

Thanks for the style kudos. I tried to find a way to quickly put down my thoughts without some rambling narrative. I’m not that great of a writer, so keeping it short and sweet is the best way to go imo.

Stephen – Yeah she was almost there; I wanted to know about what gets her off.

Dean – For the record Dean, I didn’t hate it. I was just really disappointed. It wasn’t prequel bad, which is what I really hate along with the Hulk, and the Flash Gordon TV show.

Raiders had One F***ing monkey and he had a personality; he was a character in the show. Crystal Skull had a maelstrom of monkeys just come out of nowhere for no reason, and I like monkeys a lot. It just didn’t work.

Arkonbey – we all have character flaws

Dr. Zaius – I guess it’s worth watch on cable.

OD – 1. Yes exactly!

2. You’re right about the Fridge scene OD, I should not have liked it, but I had a peculiar obsession with Atomic Blasts when I was a kid. I used to draw pictures of them all the time and think about Nuclear War constantly. So admittedly, the scene spoke to me on a different level than what it was meant to in context of the film.

Dean Wormer said...



Just to clarify- I wasn't saying because goofy thing x was in this movie and you bought it then goofy thing y is okay in another movie which, boiling your point down to it's barest essence, is really saying every film must earn suspension of disbelief from the audience on it's own. I agree with that point with the caveat that anybody that groaned when E.T. made the bikes fly was a dumbass. They bought it up to that point, c'mon.

What I was trying to say is that Spider Monkeys seem to be a regular thing in Indiana Jones movies (fried monkey brains in Temple of Doom.)

Although I'll concede that the monkeys themselves were horribly rendered and didn't work well with the film. It did seem horribly out of place.

However I cannot defend the gopher from Caddyshack showing up in this movie as Swinebread mentions.

Overdroid said...

That wasn't the Caddyshack Gopher. The Caddyshack Gopher looked much more realistic.

Pandabonium said...

You do a great job at reviewing movies.

I'll watch this eventually, but I'm glad I'm armed with this review going in. I think CG can be a wonderful tool if used sparingly, but all too often it completely overwhelms and ruins a film.

Arkonbey said...

For the record, I agree with both OD's comments. Well written, too. You been saving those up?

Pandabonium: I think CG are like bass is to music or salt is to food: it's spice. Use just enough to enhance the 'flavor' because if you use too much, the dish becomes unpalatable.

(way to stretch a metaphor, eh?)

Swinebread said...

OD - and was story appropriate

panda - thanks I try to make short and to the point.

CG is just way over used nowadays but it's good tool if not over used

arkonbey - totally dude!

Doctor Smoke said...

and finally, my worthless opinion!

I'm just not interested. I probably won't even watch this movie. I loved the first Indy, thought the second had too much short-whatever-his-name-was and the third was just TOO religious.

a fourth film? meh. No thanks.

utterly worthless.

Overdroid said...

CG is a tool. And so is Lucas.

Arkonbey - These thoughts have been stuck in my craw since the Phantom Menace and stupid fanboys saying things like "Why should a watery planet core bother you when you think it's ok to have light sabres?" Well, because one is stupid and ruins my enjoyment of the film. Tools.

Swine inspired me to put my own quick and graphic review on my blog.

Swinebread said...

doc S- hey man welcome back! I don't think you're missing much if you skip the 4th film. The first was the best.