Sunday, January 17, 2010

1-16-10: Indiana Jones and the Failures of the Crystal Skull

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" was for me the most eagerly awaited film of the decade.  Of all the films and series that I've loved, Indy IV was one movie that I really wanted badly.   When "The Last Crusade" ended I still wanted more.  I even went so far to say that "The Last Crusade" wasn't referring to Indy's last ride but the final crusade for the Holy Grail.    In the mid-'90s, there were rumblings that a new Indy film was in the works.  However, years passed and it didn't look like it would happen.  That was until the mid 2000's.

After seeing the film, I was stunned by how much I didn't like it.   I wasn't alone.  I remember seeing "Iron Man" at the Cinerama Dome and coming out of the theatre the lobby was abuzz with how much people loved this movie.  Everyone was geeking out.  A few weeks later, I saw Indy IV at the Dome and upon exciting it felt like I just came out of a funeral.  The disappointment was so thick you could cut it with a knife. 

I wasn't expecting it to be better than Raiders, I was hoping for something on par with Temple of  Doom.  Not perfect but still an incredibly fun ride.

There was much that bothered me about "Crystal Skull."  I watched it a second time and I didn't enjoy it any more than the first.  Now, over the weekend, I watched it for the first time since it's theatrical release and I was able to narrow it down to what bothered me so much.

Warning: If you haven't seen the film this is spoiler filled.

1. The reveal of the the aliens.
Spielberg should have taken a page out of his own book and withheld the reveal of the aliens until the middle of the movie.  Going in I knew there were aliens involved in some way.  I was very interested in knowing how the skulls came about.   By showing the alien remains in the beginning, I knew that it was in fact alien of origin and any sense of mystery and discovery was ruined.

2. The prairie dogs.
Way too much prairie dog.   The one that appears in the hill in the beginning and the one that appears before Indy after the nuke the fridge seen was fine but did we really need the reactions during the rocket sled scene.

3. Indy's reaction to seeing a flying saucer.
What is no doubt the greatest discovery by mankind, Indy reacted properly.  However, once the ship leaves it feels like it never happened.

4. Karen Allen's performance.
Marion Ravenwood has lost her balls.   Marion was a spunky, fiesty woman in "Raiders".  We know she could hold her own in a fight.   Here she's pathetic.  She was kidnapped, threatened to be executed, her family could be killed at any moment yet she is so damn happy and smiling.

5. The Mac Triple Cross
Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.   The triple cross was just annoying.   It was fine when he finally revealed himself as a double agent and put the audience back on their side but to twist it again was just lazy.

6. The ants carrying the russian.
It would have been fine if they just left the russian to be devoured but the fact that they had to carry him back to their hill was just bad and even more so because of poor CGI work.

7.  The entire natives attack scene.
A tribe attacks the party when they enter the temple.  They try to runaway but I briefly captured before Ox unleashes the power of the skull.   Why did this scene exist?  Was it to beef up the action and suspense?  Was it to show the affect the skull has on the natives?   It was a pointless action sequence that could have been left out.

8. The Tarzan and the monkeys scene.
Wow, this scene was so bad.   What made it worse was when the monkeys were attacking the russians.   This was a low for the Indy franchise.

9.  Why is the Last Crusade theme used at the end?
The theme that plays while the four adventurers debate how to get off the mountain is the same theme that played after Indy, Henry, Marcus and Sallah left the Grail Temple.  Why was this reused?  Lazy work on Williams part.
10. The Red Menace Plotline
This plot point was hinted at but was never touched again.  It was rather pointless.  In the motorcycle pursuit it's the KGB that's chasing Indy and Mutt not the Feds.  In fact, we never see the Feds again after their interrogation.  


I hope the next and probably last Indy film returns to the roots of the original.

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