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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Lost Hopes

Posted by goldwriting on May 27, 2008

“Why does there have to be protesters at every premier?!”

Nineteen years. That’s how long we waited for this movie to come to fruition. Nineteen years. Someone born after Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade left the theater is no old enough to vote, get married and fly halfway around the world to fight for the right for this movie and many others to be made. For their sakes, I seriously hope they don’t see it. They’ll all go AWOL instantly.

Yes, I’ll get right out there and say it, I did not like the movie. In fact, I was fairly offended by time it was over. I’ve read a number of reviews that are cutting the movie a ton of slack because it’s an Indy film and we all just love him so much and we’re so glad to see him back, but there is only so much slack in the world and it must have gotten used up in the mere hours before I got to see it on opening day. I guess from now on I should keep an extra helping of slack in an airtight jar in my closet, just for these occasions. (There are spoilers from this point on, so if you still want to go in untarnished, stop here. Just know deep in your heart that I tried to stop you.)

Let’s see if I can list out just a small helping of the problems with this flick:

– The magnetism of the Crystal Skull (and other alien body parts): This little tidbit of information was brought out pretty quickly in the film as one of those cool tricks only Indy seem to know about, but for the rest of the film the magnetism became a choice of each individual scene. You could feel George Lucas think, “Should we have it attract metal here? Yeah that would be cool” or “Nah, that doesn’t seem cool here. Let’s not make it magnetic at all. Or how about we stop it’s magnetic powers with this mystical hemp cloth!! God, I’m a genius.”

– CGI – Spielberg has a well earned place in cinema history for pushing CGI to it’s limits and making it work. On the flip side, Lucas has an equally well earned place in cinema history for pushing CGI to the other end of the spectrum where he think he can just replace real actors from this point on. The quality and usage in Crystal Skull was borderline childish. The duck boat effects over the waterfalls, the unnecessary CGI in the jungle chase, the mind numbing alien ship evacuation, all of these felt like a freshman in animation school could have been impressed by his work, but not coming from Spielberg, who previously with War of the Worlds actually made me a tad skiddish going outside after the movie was over since I believed those things could be there.

– Indy’s age: Harrison Ford reportedly waited for a long time to find a script that he was happy with and took a respectful look at his age and the age of his character. This is what he agreed to? I can’t think of a fight scene where he got more beat down than in this chapter during the ant hill sequence, adding the fact that he is about twenty years older now. We needed Indy to be smarter, more clever, using that intelligence that he cultivated over a quarter of a century as a professor, but instead we get a completely ludicrous senior citizen MMA match in the dirt. Even the slightest touch of realism here would have seen Indy with a broken hip.

– Shia, the Monkey King: This almost ranks as the most disappointing part of the movie because they were just starting to win me back when Shia gets sucked up into the jungle trees. He gets wrapped up in a piar of vines that decide completely on their own to retract and pull him up into a mystical monkey kingdom, where in three agonizing seconds of screen time, Shia learns to swing through the trees like Tarzan and lead the monkeys on an all out assault against Cate Blanchett. If they had made a point earlier of saying all the monkeys in that region of the world were strict haters of Communism, maybe I could have joined in the fun, but they happen to leave that out.

– Indy vs. Nuke: Yep, why not? Let’s open this movie big since people have waited so long to see it hit the screen. What could possibly be bigger than showing Indiana Jones survive a nuclear blast in the first 20 minutes of the film? What could possibly not make sense about there being random lead lined refrigerators in a fake town? What could possibly not seem plausible about that same fridge being magically vaulted by the blast miles away, with Indy not only able to walk afterwards, but just plain able to get out of the fridge at all? Didn’t kids lock themselves in those and die all the time in the 50’s?

There are more things I could go into, but I’ll just leave you with those few bullet points. I’m all for continuing franchises and moving the story along as long as they are treated with the same intelligence and respect as the previous versions. This was not only denied the respect of a well written script, but it also managed to deny the respect of its audience. My advice now is for Spielberg to slow his downward spiral by moving as far away from George Lucas as possible, and if he likes a script from now on (as he supposedly did with the Indy version done by Frank Darabont, which Lucas vetoed), man up and shoot it. It couldn’t have been nearly as awful as what we got in the end.

Even worse is the fact that this will make a retarded amount of money, like previous crapfest Spider-Man 3, and further the studios and other directors to think making movies like this, no matter how bad, is a profitable and worthwhile venture. I’m begging someone with influence and opportunity to sit these people down, show them Once, Lars and the Real Girl, Brick, hell, make them watch the original three Indy films and see if they can’t remember what doing a good job really felt like.

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