Saturday, June 7, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Last Temple of the Crystal Skull Crusade Doom

That pretty much sums it up.  I am a big fan of the Indiana Jones triology.  They are fun movies that you can watch in mixed company and not worry about awkward scenes.  There is usually little swearing and the violence is so far fetched anyway that I don't worry about that.  Raiders of the Lost Ark was great, Temple of Doom was scary but also good, and Last Crusade was a great way to cap the series.  So many great lines to quote, so many great scenes...it's a blast to watch.

Fast forward to 2008 where Spielberg and crew give us a new Indiana Jones movie.  Rumors were always circulating about whether we'd see another one.  But really, what would it be about?  Also, isn't Harrison Ford old now?  If you want to stop reading now, yes, he is old.

Last night we saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  OK, so the title is a bit flimsy.  Granted, Temple of Doom wasn't that strong of a subtitle, but it worked.  The movie was still good.

As per usual, we are offered up a healthy dose of previews and the entertaining Consolidated Amusement Company bumper (seriously, is it bad to like the theatre's bumper?), we are presented with the LucasFilm logo.  OK, movie is beginning, shut up!

Keeping in line with the previous films, the Paramount Pictures logo fades in to scenery (most people don't spot this _except_ in Temple of Doom).  And we see gophers.  Or groundhogs.  Some sort of critter.  You make a mental note of these wondering if they will be important later.  Then a car speeds over the gopher home.  Woo, stuff happening!

The opening is much like the chase at the beginning of Last Crusade, except they are just racing in this movie.  Also, there is no train.  We quickly learn the time period is more in the future and the bad guys in the film are Russians instead of Nazis.

The first scene with Indiana is probably the worst in the film.  It feels very forced and he doesn't really have the character like in the other movies.  I dunno, but that was the vibe I got.  Fortunately it changes later on in the film and he's more like Indiana from previous films.

The Russians have taken him to a warehouse at Area 51 looking for a box.  The warehouse looks exactly like the one featured at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark when the ark was being stored.  During their action adventure chase scene gunfight, they crash through the box containing the ark and you catch a glimpse of it.  Funny!

Indiana has aged in the story, but it still as much of a daredevil in previous films.  For example, he is beating up a Russian guy because he always has to have a fight with just one guy.  And wouldn't you know, they've ended up on a rocket sled and accidently hit the GO button.  Indiana and the Russian guy rocket away in to the desert and we get some shots similar to those seen of Dr. John Stapp and his test at Edwards Air Force Base.

Next, we see Indiana getting away from the Russians by finding a nice little American community....full of mannequins.  Oh my gosh, it's the nuclear test site and they are about to test in 30 seconds!  Indiana is quick to act by hiding in a lead-lined refrigerator and surviving the blast itself and being blown up in to the air and bounced around.  This event caused him to show up on the FBI's radar.

The FBI questions and threatens him, but that's it.  We never see or hear from the FBI again in the film.  Waste of time!

Because of this nuclear blow up test survival thing, the university he teaches at lets him go and his superior (the Sandford inspector from Hot Fuzz) resigns.  Indiana decides to leave, but gets interrupted by Shia LaBeouf on a motorcycle wielding a comb.  Indiana is easily convinced and they go have some drinks.

LaBeouf gives Indiana a letter written in pictures and asks what it means.  It means we have to get on planes and show the map animation these movies are famous for.  But first, I see the KGB over at the counter, so we need to get away from them first!

They start a fight and proceed to get away from the KGB on motorcycle.  They ride through buildings and the university and all over and eventually the KGB decides to go home and Indiana and LaBeouf head to Indy's place to start preparing for this trip to South America.

LaBeouf is still attached to his motorcycle at this point (it even flies with them), but we lose it in South America eventually.

Everyone reconvenes in South America and we find the letter is sent by Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark who is LaBeouf's mother.  Indiana and Marion fight, there's something about an elongated Mayan skull, and we get to see a crazy whacked out John Hurt.

The Russians want something with the skull.  Treasure, a location, whatever.  I dunno.  Not important.  What is important is it takes them trekking across the jungle.  There's a part where Indiana gets a hold of the vehicle they are in, they all transfer to duck boats and proceed to have a gun/sword fight similar to the mine train scenes from Temple of Doom.  All that ends when they crash in to each other on a giant ant hill.

The ants are those scary South American ants, super scarier for the film.  They kill some of the Russians and try to take Indiana's hat.  But all is well, the good guys pile in to a duck boat and drive off a cliff in to a river.  They then go over three waterfalls, which makes this whole episode sound like a much scarier version of the raft incident from Temple of Doom.

The skull is taking them to some hidden temple.  They get there, it's alien bodies, they return the skull, the aliens come to life somehow and kill the Russians and the hidden civilization.  A spaceship also takes off.  Seriously.

If the end of act III couldn't get any worse, Marion and Indiana get married.  Oh, we found out earlier that LaBeouf is Indiana's son.  Neat.

In conclusion, it felt like a parody of the previous movies.  Weak dialogue and lack of character development for the new people meant it was difficult to watch at some times.  The motivations of the Russians were unclear too.  Plausibility level of almost all of the action was nil, which is the case for the previous movies in a lot of instances, but it just seemed more over the top this time.

What this movie needed was more usage of Indiana's whip.  If they were referencing previous movies, they should have at least had the gun scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where the guy throws the sword around and Indiana just shoots him.  Also, what was the deal with the gophers?  Or the FBI?  Also, where was Sallah?  Asps are very dangerous.  Speaking of, we needed more snakes.  A pit of snakes.  And since you already have aliens in the film and John Hurt, why not add a chest-burster to mix things up a bit.

Should you see this movie in a theatre?  I hate to say it, but no.  It's a renter at best.

No comments: