You guys are in store for two reviews. I’m gonna keep mine shorter because my buddy GS went to town on this thing. Mad props to GS on becoming the 1st Guest Writer at The Corner.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
As my buddy JM and I walked out of the theatre, we had the typical post-movie dialogue:
ME: What’d you think?
JM: It was pretty good. Entertaining, you know
ME: Yeah, it was kinda fun.
JM: Did you see the hot girls in front of us?
ME: Yeah. They were hot. So much better than the girls on J-Date.
JM: Tell me about it.
So what’s the point of this story? The point is that it took only 11 seconds of reviewing the movie before we moved on to something else. Was the movie entertaining? Sure. Was it more memorable then walking by two attractive girls? Not really. Here’s my advice: If you go in expecting National Treasure featuring Indiana Jones, you’ll be in better shape.
Things I Liked
Some of the Action Scenes: Although most were predictable, it was still fun watching Indy do his thing.
John Williams Score: I don’t care what I’m watching. If this music plays, I’m automatically in a good mood. (Same thing with the scores from Mission Impossible, Back to the Future, and Rudy.)
Seeing Indy Back on the Big Screen: It’s been almost two decades, and Indy still looks pretty much the same. One of the best characters ever to hit the silver screen.
Shia LaBeouf: The kid from Project Greenlight has hit it big with his 2nd summer blockbuster in a row…last summer was Transformers. If he keeps it up, he could surpass Will Smith for most summer blockbuster hits. And my Hawaiian buddy MB thinks I look like him. So I got that going for me.
Things I Didn’t Get:
The First 15 Minutes: I actually thought I was at the wrong movie. Is this Caddyshack? No wait, it’s Grease? Radioactive Man? I was so confused. Trust me; you’ll understand when you see it. The opening is all over the place.
The Silly Jokes: I know the Indy series has room for lots of witty dialogue and jokes, but this got out of hand. There were a few painful moments that my buddy will describe in his critique.
The Ending: There is an alien subplot throughout the movie. I actually like that sci-fi stuff so it wasn’t too bad for me, but I could see a lot of people turned off by it. I kept expecting Richard Dreyfus to run onto the screen. Is this Close Encounters or Indiana Jones? It just seemed out of place.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie. By no means was it very good, but it was fun and entertaining. When it’s on cable, I’ll watch a few scenes here and there, but certainly not the whole thing. If you don’t take the movie too seriously, you’ll have a decent time.
My buddy GS begs to differ:
Indiana Jones Review
I went to see the new Indiana Jones movie over the weekend and was brimming with excitement for the long-awaited Indy movie. We have all been reading about this movie for years and it was finally here. A brief disclaimer: Raiders of the Lost Ark ranks as my favorite action movie of all-time and was made at a time when Lucas and Spielberg were at their absolute peak. A second disclaimer: Sequels piss me off. They seldom work and are most often excuses to cash-in on the first movie (or series of movies in this case) and sell DVDs and happy meals.
Anyway, here is a brief neutral synopsis of the movie from the NY Post:
Indy and a colleague of dubious loyalty (Ray Winstone) are captives of KGB agents led by Soviet parapsychologist Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett in a Louise Brooks bob). The Russkies take Indy to the same vast Nevada warehouse seen at the end of the "Lost Ark" (which makes a fleeting cameo appearance) in search of an extraterrestrial artifact. After the first of several well-mounted chase sequences that climaxes in a nuclear explosion (arguably the most original touch in the entire movie), Indy has returned to the classroom and is being shadowed by a pair of red-hunting FBI agents. An encounter with a not-so-mysterious young man named Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) leads to an even more spectacular chase through the streets of New Haven. Shortly they're off to Peru, in search of the lost city of Eldorado and the titular crystal skull, whose powers promise to dwarf those of the ark.
IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE AND DO NOT WANT TO GET SPOILED, STOP HERE. IF YOU DON'T CARE, KEEP READING:
Actors and their Characters:
-Harrison Ford: Indy is back as his old self, yet much more arthritic and certainly more crusty. I am not bothered by this though because even in the original Raiders movie, Indy is kind of grizzled and not meant to be a Sly Stone/Arnold wrecking machine. In this movie, he handles the action sequences well and with some CGI-help, seems pretty spry. The problem was that they hardly gave him any decent lines. The screenplay was so hackneyed that there was very little witty or even smart dialogue from Indy and there was no chemistry between Indy or any other character in the movie. The best that you can say is that Indy was just kinda there.
-Cate Blanchett: Plays a KGB-Russian scientist type. At best her character is campy, at worst, a poor imitation of a 1970's Roger Moore leading lady (i.e. a perfect Austin Powers character). Obviously you can't blame Blanchett, who usually is great in all of her roles, for this piece of sh*t character. I actually feel bad for her for taking a role so beneath her. Its like the Lucas/Spielberg team wanted to use her as a marketing tool because they knew how crappy the movie was: "Hey, come check out the new Indy, with the multi-Oscar nominated Cate Blanchett, as the villain!" This is not to suggest that she did a bad acting job--she was fine, but the role would have been a better fit for either the mom from "Throw Mama from the Train" (also the nasty woman in the Goonies) or Angelica Houston. I digress, but more on the villain later.
-Shia LeBouf: Its like Lucas/Spielberg want Shia seems to be this generation's answer to River Phoenix, and I think they might be right. He seems to be the only actor in Hollywood in his teens/20's that can play a "tough" and also be likeable in an action genre. Some other popular actors wouldn't fit the bill for this role: Tobey Maguire (too nerdy); Leo (too old); James Franco (too polished); Dane Cook (just kidding). He played his part reasonably well, as the Marlon Brando-esque mystery man that comes into Indy's life as the cocky kid who later turns out to be Indy's son, which any 8-year old could smell from a mile away. He and Indy have no chemistry.
-Ray Winstone: Indy's "friend" who sells him out to the commies. This character was atrocious. The true Indy would be way too smart to befriend someone who was just in it for the gold and glory. Even the villains in Raiders (Belloch) and Last Crusade (the hot German babe) acknowledged that archeology was more than just finding treasure and profiting from it. Indy is way too smart to be hanging around with this buffoon and to have Indy constantly being swindled by this guy throughout the movie is insulting.
-Karen Allen: She plays Marion Ravenwood, Indy's old flame who got knocked up and deserted by Indy at some point, only to produce Shia. Very, very predictable. She looks haggard and has not aged well since she was in Animal House and Raiders. I wanted to like her character, but, like everything else in this movie, seemed like a campy parody of Raiders. She did not have any of the spunk or attitude that Marion in Raiders had. The Raiders-Marion was hard-boiled, out-drinking that fat Nepalese guy in Raiders. real bad-ass. This Marion was better suited to be sipping tea.
-Professor Ox: John Hurt plays a very grizzled old professor friend of Indy's who gets caught up in the caper. This character didn't make any sense to me and added nothing to the story. The Russians worked him over pretty good but as a viewer you didn't feel the least bit of sympathy for him. IN real life, John Hurt says the movie was a train wreck.
The antagonist was so poorly developed that it was hard to root for or against her or even have an opinion of her one way or the other. We are so far removed from the Red Scare/Cold War that simply having that as a backdrop for character development doesn't cut it (contrast PC's favorite childhood movie, War Games). There was almost no interplay between her and Indy (like there was in the other movies in the series).
It was just silly. I am not a huge fantasy/sci-fi guy to begin with, but I did enjoy the fantasy elements of the previous movies in the series. However, Crystal Skull took it way beyond reasonableness. The whole alien thing bewildered me and I did not understand what the hell happened at the end. Also, the first 45 minutes of the movie the story went in one direction, i.e, the red scare and the FBI chasing Indy, but then changed directions big time when Shia shows up and spins some lame story about Professor Ox and his mother in order to get Indy on the trail of the skulls. Lastly, the beginning hook was terrible. In Raiders and Temple of Doom there were amazing opening sequences that fed perfectly into the rest of the story and had the viewer hooked. No such luck in this movie. Bottom line is that the story had a ton of holes and there was no continuity and at best it was a cheap parody of the other Indy movies.
Special Effects and Action:
Action was good, but very, very predictable and again, campy and cartoony. I also thought that some of the action sequences were very repetitive of the earlier Indy movies, like the truck scene in Raiders or the final scene in Last Crusade when the temple was crumbling. Also, another complete rip-off of the famous Raiders scene was when the Nazi general's face melted off (here the Russian soldier's face melted off when he was eaten by bugs). In the jungle scene, when Shia started swinging from the vines because he saw a monkey do it, that pretty much capped the ridiculous factor for me. Lastly, did anyone think that scene in the lost city was very reminiscent of the scene in National Treasure where they find the treasure? Just a thought.
The biggest question I have is simply, why? Why would they need to do this film, other than pure avarice, money and ego? When I grew up, these guys were like the Tom Brady and Tiger Woods of movie making. Now, they seem to trade on their past, especially Lucas. You could clearly see the Lucas imprint in Crystal Skull with the appearance of little gremlins and critters showing up throughout the movie. Reminds me much more of the Star Wars prequels than the Indy movies. Supposedly the first 5 or 6 versions of the screenplay were rejected, but in favor of this? Some people like this movie. A guy at work said that it was the second best movie in the series. When discussing with him, I felt like the Tom Hanks character in "Big" when he is at the sales meeting and he keeps saying, "I don't get it," and John Heard gets really heated that he doesn't get it and mocks him with "I don't get it, I don't get it." That was me at work today. I just don't get it.
Effect on legacy:
Crystal Skull is like Rocky V--it just doesn't exist. Even a hack-job like this doesn't ruin the proud legacy.
The Wedding Scene:
Nothing gets my goat more than pointless wedding scenes in movies. Typical Disney-type ending that Spielberg seems so fond of.
One final disclaimer:
I am usually not this bitter. I had to pee halfway through the movie and held it in so that I wouldn't miss a minute of solid Indy action. That minute never came. Moral of the story, its okay to get up to pee during this hunk of junk, you won't miss anything.