Monday, June 09, 2008

Set Pieces and Fan Service?

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Was it worth waiting 20 years for?

Well, the latest Indy adventure has been equally panned and praised in the papers and online. You can read an excellent (if scathing) review of it here, at Haunted Jo's review site.

Personally, I enjoyed it immensely. From the opening scenes onwards, the film was cleverly scripted, beautifully filmed and wonderfully acted. There were certain bits that stuck in my craw, but for the most part, I think it was a beautiful way to wrap up the Indy franchise.

Harrison Ford was great - living up to Indiana Jone's motto of 'it's not the years, it's the mileage.' Doing most of his own stunts - and kicking most of his own butt - Ford once again gave us the Indy we loved from our childhood. Brilliant, charming, eccentric, absent minded, tough, resourceful and funny. The years have made him a bit creakier and grumpier, but that just added to the charm of this very believable character (even if he is doing totally unbelievable things.)
The bits that ticked my boxes - like the history, the cars and the 50's period setting - were pitch perfect (except for an out-of-place 70's era Harley Davidson.)

The only things I really didn't like were some slightly overly ridiculous action sequences (only two of them, but enough to shatter my 'suspension of disbelief') and the hokey plot (aliens?)

What lets the whole movie down is the fact that the beginning is so much better than the end, which means audiences leave the theatre forgetting that they spent 75% of the movie on the edge of their seats.

But on the whole? Wonderful and engaging popcorn fodder.

To most of the detractors, I say this: After twenty years wait, could any movie Spielberg and Lucas put together possibly live up to your expectations?

The Good

Indiana Jones vs. Nuclear Explosion - I can't wait for the slew of newspaper headlines when impressionable young kids climb inside their refrigerators trying to emulate our hero.

Car Chase through Yale university - Racing '50s era cars and bikes through a peaceful Ivy-league campus (and the school library) is just awesome.

Ray Winston getting punched in the face repeatedly - Note to Spielberg/Lucas: Film could have done with more scenes of Ray Winston getting punched in the face.

Shia LaBeouf dressed up as Marlon Brando on his roaring Harley Davidson - It's also worth noting that Shia's sporting unmistakably ginger-ish hair.

The scene with the quicksand/snake - My ribs still hurt from laughing so much.

The scene with the ants - I challenge you not to squirm.

Lashings of fan service - References to Denholm Elliott and Sean Connery's characters, a cameo by the Ark of the Covenant, Karen Allen kicking butt as Indy's love interest from Raiders of the Lost Ark and that lovely theme music played at every opportunity.

The Bad

Aliens? Roswell? Apparently, after 20 years of Indy rip offs like Tomb Raider and The Mummy, all the vaguely non-hokey script concepts were taken.

Shia LeBeouf playing Tarzan - Feed the guy who came up with THAT idea to the marauding army of killer ants, please.

Ray Winston - Did not get punched in the face enough.

LeBeouf's Harley Davidson - Disc brakes? Hand controls? None of that was available until the mid seventies!

Ray Winston dying while stuffing his pockets full of gold. Cate Blanchett getting her ironic comeuppance at the climax of the movie - I know Spielberg and Lucas invented this genre, but that's still no excuse for recycling this tired material.

The Verdict?

We still love you, Indiana Jones!


Anonymous said...

That man-Harrison-is just beautiful to me. that's all i knows. he's still got it, Roland!

You have a wonderful week, my dear!

Coffee Bean said...

I'm sorry. I didn't like it. The whole alien thing and the hokey glass alien head... oy. My kids did though.