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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A FORD sandwich no less!

Thanks to my 'special' contacts here in the 'Deen I got to go to attend a preview screening (ok, only by a day or so) of INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. So, what follows obviously includes plot points and SPOILERS so if you wanna remain free of info then this post is best revisited once you've seen it. However for those desperate to know what I thought of it (I know at least a few will) I will say that the film is most enjoyable despite some pacing issues and inexplicable moments.

Packing a punch? Let's find out...

Ok, remember there are plot~points/spoilers in this review so move on now! One of the trademarks of an INDY film is how SPIELBERG utilizes the PARAMOUNT logo at the beginning. Here it's handled very amusingly and most unexpected as it blends into a mound of dirt with some kind of gopher (probably a gopher) coming out of it. Well, it made me giggle. Said beginning is also a crucial part and this one, sadly, falls a bit flat. It's too slow (a problem I had with the starts of the previous two flicks) and doesn't really feel like the fanfare it should've.

She's looking for me and my opinion. It's here bee~atch!

The direction, in general, is tops with the car 'action' scenes all (yes, there's more than one) coming off interesting and mirthsome; the moment were Mutt and Indy ride through the library and stop is most amusing. Back to the start. After the ramblings in the hangar (where we get a glimpse of THE ark) we then witness Indy surrounded by Fifties Americana as he stumbles on a faux town about to be destroyed by a nuclear bomb. I kid you not. That scene felt weird. Very un~Indy and very anachronistic but it was striking. Him in all his attire in the home of the future was quite a sight and, visually, one of the best shots in the whole thing.

Pullz ze string!

Indy sees the resulting mushroom cloud which was another surprising moment (there's more to come!) - his era has come to an end as the Cold War begins. This is a theme strong in the first half, communism. Indy gets suspected and is questioned by The Janitor from Scrubs (who claimed, in an episode of said show, that he played a cop in 'The Fugitive' and he actually did!) which made me larf. ALAN DALE also makes a brief appearance, is there anything he ain't in? JIM BROADBENT also popped up filling in for the thrice mentioned MARCUS BRODY. Now dead along with Indy's dad apparently.

Nice earring Harry!

SHIA LABEOUF makes a fine young rebel and giggles ensued as he appeared MARLON BRANDO~esque on his bike through the smoke. Although I was glad to see KAREN ALLEN back, I forgot about her acting abilities. And they haven't got better, I can assure you. CATE BLANCHETT does a nice line in European Eighties villain who tries to use the force whenever she gets the opportunity. RAY WINSTONE plays the the sidekick/double/triple agent note perfect but, like the plot, his part is over~complicated.

The essential cave scene.

JOHN HURT was forgettable as the mad man and I cannot comprehend why they didn't just make him ABNER RAVENWOOD. It would have made so much more sense with Marion and Mutt involved. Oh, in case you're wondering, Mutt is Indy's son which does provide a slew of top gags. Why didn't we see the link earlier? Mutt - another name for a dog. Indiana - named after a dog. Music~wise, JOHN WILLIAMS does nothing remarkable here whatsoever with no new notable themes or motifs but is serves its purpose.

The good guy! Or was he... (answer - no)

The story itself was odd. It seemed to waddle on from scene~to~scene rather than your normal three act action/adventure. The guys and gals would learn something new then move on to solve the next piece of the puzzle. It is much more of a mystery than previous Indy films. You don't really get sense of the journey, you just know they're moving. Whereas we don't see the power of the Ark or the Grail 'til the end of their respective movies, we do witness the Crystal Skull's powers (or at least part of) early on.

Nice Tash!

It's over complicated for something that needn't have been. Explanations and reasoning were found wanting which was weird considering how much exposition there was. There's a lot of Indy explaining legends, etc... It used to be you only got that once but here it happens quite a bit. Sadly the explanations do not lead to a better understanding of why certain things happen the way they do. The dialogue is as zippy as ever, however, and the cast do a good job with it. Having said that, HARRY F did seem to sleep through some of his longer speeches.

Nice face!

Design~wise, the Crystal Skull itself is quite alien. Literally. The scene at the end (which I am about to address) was done beautifully with the circle of crystal aliens (or trans~dimensional beings) looking excellent. When the 'thing' was manifested in physical form it was well realised (though pretty much in the style of your normal 'Grey' alien). The collapse of the temple and the spaceship's appearance (and subsequent disappearance) featured some highly impressive FX shots and was well executed within the framework of the film.


Good work too on the red ant scene. Nice 'n' creepy in a typical Indiana Jones fashion. There were a number of scenes which I think we could have all done without. Mutt swingin' on a rope in the jungle as Tarzan (and I'm gonna assume that was at George's behest) surrounded by monkeys was as unnecessary as it was ridiculous. Further incredulity ensued during the scene where their boat~car falls down not one but three huge waterfalls. Un~needed, unwanted and stretching the realms of believability too much.


Believablitity is not one of the selling points in an Indiana Jones film, granted. But this certainly is the most fantastical of the four. The premise, which Indy himself mocks - constantly grinning "Come on!" whenever Blanchett gets all psychic - until he sees it. Big bloody aliens! I think this ending may divide audiences: those who can accept Indy getting involved in a sci~fi caper and those cannot. Me? I can accept anything. People? Not so sure about them. They might laugh. Certainly there were heads~a~turning during the 'alien scene' as I am now calling it.

Allen floored! Rhumba, snort!

In Raiders and Crusade it was God's power so everyone could identify with that 'cos that's what we knew. We could believe his wrath (or ever lasting life) because we were raised on the Bible and the 'fear of God'. Nowadays, I'm 'over' the Old Testamant and all those shenanigans. For some folks, aliens are a religion no less valid than the Thugees (no, I didn't mis~spell a well~known Nineties hip~hip band).

Hhmm, zexy cow!

Oh, you want me to sum it all up. Well, there's a wedding at the end and my least favourite thing - people applauding whilst a couple kiss. Ggggrrrrr. Indy's hat blows into the church and we think Mutt will pick it up, blazing the way for more sequels - Mutt Williams And The Cuban Missile Crisis. But, thankfully, it is Indy who picks it up, he's not going anywhere just yet. Spielberg says he'll make more if there's a demand for it. The pacing of this film is exactly like it was in the Eighties (which, in itself, is no bad thing) so, while it may appeal to us old guys, I'm not so sure that it'll find new fans. It's less than an adventure and more of, well, some stuff that happens. I am glad they made it though.

'Til the next time,

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posted by Cameron McEwan at 1:17 am -
  • At 2:06 pm, OpenID browncoatcat said…

    I think that Stephen Spielberg is bending the truth ever so slightly. Yes he will make Indy V if the box office warrants it, but he wont enjoy doing it. I think he sees this as the end of the saga, tieing up all the loose ends, like what the hell did happen to Marion Ravenwood etc.

  • At 2:57 pm, Blogger Cameron McEwan said…

    Not all the loose ands have been tied, I think we're all wondering what happened to Short Round and the 'famous' singer Willie Scott.

    To be serious for a moment, I can't see how another one would work with him getting married. Mind you, I didn't think this one would work.

    Oh, hold on.

    Also, Georgey boy says he has another story in mind - though whether or not that's just bravado for the press, like Stevey S and his remarks, is up for debate.

    Still, I wouldn't object if they did. Not sure how the communists would feel about it...

  • At 12:45 am, Blogger Richard said…

    I put off reading this post until I had seen the film. And I have to say Im not a fan of the sci-fi direction.The action set pieces were all fine, but the story was a bit all over the place.

    What I have learned is, that if a nuclear bomb ever goes off, then clearly a fridge is the best place to be.

    Two quotes surprised me. Well one was slightly expected / groan worthy. "I've a bad feeling about this"

    But early on, I was very confused by Indy psuedo-quoting Connery from the Untouchables (if thats a thing you can do). "Looks like you brought a knife to a gun fight". Odd

  • At 10:47 am, Blogger Cameron McEwan said…


    The story, as you say and as alluded to in my 'review', is "all over the place". I've seen it a second time now and it isn't really any clearer.

    Make sure the fridge is lead lined. That's the important part. These modern ones are no good!

    I did kind of go Wha? when he did The Untouchables quote. It was a nice homage but why? Very odd indeed. And, before anyone pipes up, I know Connery was in it and an Indy film.

    Actually, I thought the I have a bad feeling about this was alright.

    We also got Indy saying This is intolerable just like his dad in Last Crusade.

    The sci~fi direction is odd but it was an impressive spectacle nonetheless. As was Indy in the fifties house and the aforementioned nuclear blast.

    So, did you enjoy it or not?

  • At 1:07 pm, Blogger Richard said…

    Overall, not. I spent far too much time going 'Whhhhhaaa?' to really enjoy it. Every time there was a good bit it was sullied in my mind by stuff that just didnt make sense. Who were the guys at the graveyard in Peru? At the El Dorado tunnels, how did the tribesmen brick themselves in? Do they rebuild the status everytime they break out to go to the toilet? Im being picky now, but lots of bits annoyed me.

    Another thing that sprang to mind, does Lucas just want to distance himself from mystical / supernatural.

    Star Wars prequels had the midichlorians (im sure you will correct spelling there) which give a vaguely scientific reason for the force. Indy had interdimensional aliens to give a vaguely sciencey reason for the powers.

  • At 1:43 pm, Blogger Cameron McEwan said…

    Agreed, there a lot of WHA? moments.

    In a way it's bold but in another it's still WHA?

    When you start picking at anything it falls apart, like why were the TVs on in the houses that were about to be destroyed? Water on in the gardens but not in the house? How did the Ruskies (is that racist?) get in and out of the US so flippin' easy yet Indy gets a metaphorical kicking from the Feds? Et al...

    That's an interesting point about the mystical / supernatural. Though, personally, I feel it's more of a religious point. Temple of Doom is often seen as the lesser cousin of the films and this could be because a Christian relic was not involved.

    Though that could have been down to Willie and Short Round....

    As for the midichlorians (no idea about the spelling), they made a swift departure from the prequels and were not mentioned again after EP1. Maybe he realised that particular mistake.

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