Sunday, May 25, 2008

Review: Indiana Jones 4: Something about the crystal skulls

...Spoiler Alert...can you spoil something bad? hmmm...good question. Just to give you a point of reference, I am not a movie snob. I can easily enjoy average movies as long as it has some entertainment value.

To start. I liked all Indiana Jones movies....1 to 3 anyway. And yes I even liked Temple of Doom. Its a fun movie. Raiders of the Lost Ark had a slow start but its a solid movie.

The third one was just perfection across the board. Here are 3 notable scenes.

The part where Adolf Hitler signs his grail book.

Then the "No ticket" scene.

The part where Sean Connery shoots the tail of their own plane.

This is just 10 mintues of the movie. Epic is a word to describe it. The movie is about the holy grail, something people can never get enough of. Underneath it all, the movie is about Indiana Jones and his father. They never got along, and had a lot of misunderstandings. But somehow, with mutual interest of the holy grail, they finally get to understand eachother. They take a relationship that both parties have given up on and make it into something meaningful.

So about Indiana Jones 4...

Harrison Ford has not aged gracefully. He has turned into an old man. When he talks, sometimes his voice gives, and he sounds like the guy sitting on his porch yelling at the little kids that make too much noise. He does a good job masking it throughout the movie...except this one scene. And I really don't know why they would choose to not reshoot it. Put Sean Connery next to Harrison Ford, and Connery looks like he'll go on living for another 20 maybe 30 years, and Ford looks like he's going to die of feebleness in about 2 years, 5 years max.

See the pic? That is the pic about the Cottingley fairies. These photos mesmorized the world at one time. It had people believing in fairies. Then people discovered that it was a fake. And now everyone knows its fake because a lot of people were duped. How does this relate to the movie? The thing about crystal skulls is that they do really exist but everyone knows that they are fake. One time someone tried to pass them off as some kind of artifact of unknown origins posessing special from an ancient civilization that had advanced technology. It has been disproven, and everyone knows that the crystal skulls are not special. So when I heard Indiana Jones were going to do a movie about it, I thought they should have picked a better topic. It might seem silly, but I did believe in the holy grail when I watched The Last Crusade. And I still think there is something we don't understand about the grail that I wouldn't mind hearing another story about. As for the crystal skulls? No.... They might as well have based Indiana Jones around the Cottingley faries that everyone knows was a hoax.

Anyone remember how Austin Powers 2 started? How the movie starts, then its so cheesy and over the top that we discover they are filing a movie inside of a movie after director yells "cut". Well, from the first 15 minutes of the movie, it was so over the top cheesy, I expected to hear "cut" because any minute now, the lens would zoom out to reveal that Indiana Jones was doing movies because his fictional character had become famous. No, it wasn't going to be the case, but I'll give this movie a chance that things will improve if i give it some time.

And then for the next 15 minutes we are back in fast times in ridgemont high in the 50's where you know Lucus is doing his thing...but in a uber cheesy way. I keep thinking, man, this is so far from an Indiana Jones movie....I hope it gets good soon. They seriously need a change of scenery before the movie gets to anything interesting. But no, the movie just continues on developing from a 50's diner of all places. Something different I suppose. I am still giving the movie a benefit of doubt that it'll get better.

Then when the aliens made an appearance in a body bag and that's when things got real sour. For a moment when Indiana gets sent off on a rocket with wheels, I really thought Indiana was gonna travel through time. Did they really use the same prop from the movie "Timecop" with Jean Claude Van Damn? I know its supposed to resemble rocket testing equipment, but all I can think of was Timecop and traveling through time. Timetravel and Indiana Jones definitely could happen the way the movie was heading. Still hoping that things will get better...

Oh yeah, and then there was that refridgerator scene...ask me to think about something unbelievable in a movie...and the closest thing to it might be that movie where they increase the size of a sharks brain and it becomes super smart. But really, that could maybe happen if you're really really looking to stretch. The refridgerator scene in Indiana Jones 4, no. Never in a million years. Terrible. When Indiana Jones gets out of the refridgerator, someone in the audience yelled, "yeah right". Which was what everyone was thinking. I think "what the fuck?" would have worked just the same.

Then there is this overhead shot of this cemetary scene that is so obvious that its shot from a miniature...I really wonder why they didn't decide to redo it...add a filter...add some CGI. Do "something else". And maybe I realize its Lucus again trying to go back to the golden era of where miniatures was the hot new way to shoot. And he goes as far as to make it look extra *miniatury* so that people don't miss that its being shot at an miniature set. Lucus might have thought it was cool, but it literally just killed the movie. If a boom mic hit Indiana Jones on the head and they just kept rolling, it wouldn't have made a difference anymore. From this moment on, I am done making excuses for the movie and it felt like I was stuck watching a bad play.

Movies are good when you get lost in the story and in the character's reality. And it should never break the reality the characters are in. You should never be reminded that you are watching a movie. But it was done many many times, and sometimes on purpose. Because I know if my friends and I can easily spot when something should be reshot, a professional would have realized that it needed to be redone.

Probably the movie wasn't too bad, but I expected A LOT more from Lucus and Spielberg. Or maybe it was really this bad, and if it wasn't a movie about a hero everyone loved directed and written by Speilber and Lucas of all people (and watching with friends), I might have considered walking out. It was across the board bad. The story was poor (pick a story about something that is not associated with a phony legend, and put some witty/smart/good humor that is the magical formula in the Indiana Jones movies). The props were poor (miniature set sucked, don't borrow from Timecop). And directing was poor (a lot needed to be reshot and reprocessed, the acting was over the top, think Frau Farbisna of Austin Powers....about the same level of over-the-topness.). They have no excuse. Why do they do this to their loyal fans? I like complete collections, but I wouldn't add this movie to my collection just because its part of the Indiana Jones series.

I wanted to more than like it. I wanted to love it. I wanted it to have some scenes that would randomly pop into my head (months and years after I've watched the movie) when I'm driving in my car, so it can tickle my funnybone and lift me up. I want to be able to reference the lines like "No Ticket!" when I accidentally kick someone out of the car. Or say "I'm sorry son...They got us" when I accidentally destroy a part of the vehicle we're using in a team race. It would be hysterical because everyone would understand the refence. The Indiana Jones movies 1-3 had that. This one does not. There should be scenes where things are funnier when its left unsaid but everyone understands the reference. In this movie they seem to say it just incase we missed the joke. (knife to a gunfight. falling 3 times down the waterfall). Instead of Indiana saying, "Sorry kid, but it looks like you brought a knife to a gun fight." It is funnier if he would have said something to the tune of, "We know how this is gonna turn out. [smirk]". Its not that hard to fix these problems, but they made no attempts.

The hat scene at the very end of the movie is a good analogy. The hat falls off the coat hanger, and lands at Henry Jones Jr III's feet. As he's about to put it on his head, Indiana snatches it away from him. As if Harrison were saying, "We tried to pass the torch, but after the end result of this movie, we've all realized there probably isn't going to be a sequel. I'm keeping my hat to keep whatever's left of my (and the series) dignity. Sorry but we tried."

After the movie was over, a small group of people in the back started clapping. When you've watched an enjoyable movie, everyone is willing to partake in the clap as long as someone starts it. It wasn't the case in this movie. I felt that if I join in on the clap, I would be devaluing the praise I give when its due. I sensed this is what my friends felt as no clapping was happening in my row, or any rows near us. Walking out of the theather to gather with my friends, I noticed a lot of headshaking. I just wanted to make sure that it wasn't just me that thought such a movie with such great potential and talent could be this bad.

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