Thursday, September 04, 2008

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull

Yes, I'm probably the last person to see this. I grew up with Indiana Jones, and this should have been a movie I went to see on opening day. But the closer it got to release the less and less excited I became. And the more I think about it, the less I think any Indiana Jones movies needed to be made after Last Crusade. What was wrong with it actually being the last?

Most of the people I talked to (with a few exceptions) had negative reactions to this movie. But I'm the type of person who can go into a movie with low expectations and be won over. Hell, if I went to half the movies I see with expectations this low I'd probably enjoy quite a few more. Unfortunately Indie didn't win me over this time. I didn't hate it, but I was often bored. And the movie had so many moments that just made me roll my eyes.

I'm aching to know what this movie could have been. What was in Darabont's script before Lucas got his sticky hands all over it and mucked it up? I'm ninety percent positive there weren't three separate scenes with CGI ground hogs. I've got a fairly good feeling there wasn't a scene with Shia Labeouf swinging through the jungle like Tarzan.

With Crystal Skull Lucas continues his trend of flattening his franchises to a bland pulp. Most of the movie felt like a high budget fan film. Like the Star Wars prequels it was too aware of itself. All the other movies felt to me like they existed in their own right. This one ultimately felt like a cash-in.

Just as I feared there was an over-reliance on CGI effects. They stood out like a sore thumb. Not just the damn ground hogs, or the giant ants. The scenery feels false, like the Star Wars prequels. There were too many times I felt myself thinking, "they're not actually there."

I never got that feeling from the first films, even when re-watching them as an adult. They always felt grounded in a reality, even though I know they're not real. Crystal Skull left me grasping for something to believe in.

There's a moment in Temple of Doom, when they fall out of the plane in the inflatable raft and slide down the mountain. That's the only part of the movie where I go, "yeah right". Crystal Skull is filled with moments like that. The refrigerator, the sword fight on the speeding jeeps, the Tarzan moment.

The movie is filled with lazy writing. The worst of which is the crystal skull itself as a device. It's like a convenient little deus ex machina you can take with you. Giant man-eating ants after you? Whip out the skull. Scary savages with spears after you? Whip out the skull. Giant imposing door with no noticeable entry? Say it with me - whip out the skull.

Where is the clever adventuring from Last Crusade, where every moment Indie is squeaking by on his wits. Every booby trap needs to be solved in its own way. There's nothing for him to do in this movie except go along for the ride, and occasionally punch a Russian in the face.

I'm just disappointed. There are a lot of good people involved in this movie. I just think they deserved something better to work with. It's a shame Lucas, with his stunted imagination, has such control over the property.


BG said...

I still haven't seen it. The Last Crusade is it for me.

Doctor Lao said...

I liked it.

Scott said...

I know you did. But then, I liked Temple of Doom and Last Crusade more than you. I think we just come at the series from different places.