Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Movie Review


I finally saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull last night. I'm a huge Indy fan, going back to 1981 and Raiders. Dad and Mother saw the movie and immediately decided that "Chris would really like this." They know me pretty well. Danny Ewing and I played Indiana Jones the rest of that summer at the pool, jumping off the diving board, pretending to swing on ropes and so on. I was itching to see the newest movie on opening day, but having four kids changes priorities.

My expectations of this most recent (and last?) Indy movie were actually pretty low. I'd read a few mediocre reviews, mostly lamenting that more wasn't done with the "age" factor. Yes, there were lines all over the place noting how old Indy was, but, apart from the last scene, there wasn't much of him coming to terms with his age. The Unforgiven did this well--with Clint Eastwood portraying the retired assassin/adventurer/cowboy who is reluctantly swept up into a final foray.

So I wasn't expecting a whole lot, but still left disappointed. My biggest complaint was the unevenness of the movie. Some scenes rushed past, others felt as if they never quite started and didn't finish. The whole first act was somewhat jerky and seemed cobbled together. It seems to me as if Spielberg and Co. made this more for the chance to hang out with the old gang than in making a tight, coherent movie.

Marjorie, on the other hand, had this to say about it: "It seemed a little far-fetched. I mean, aliens? A space ship? Pretty unrealistic, even for Indiana Jones."

The more I thought about this, the more I realized how faithful my wife is. Finding the Ark of the Covenant? The power of God displayed through it's misuse (however Hollywood-ized)? Plausible for her. The Holy Grail? Believable. Aliens? No, just stupid.

I think for many involved in the writing of these films, all of Jone's adventures and quests were equally fantastic, equally supernatural in a way barely connected with the real world. But for my faithful wife (and me), Indy 1 and 3 stand out. These are the quests that could happen. The Object in these two existed, and however bowdlerized their effects and purpose are (they are Hollywood treatments, after all), however much relying on subsequent myths and legends, there's something true about the quest to find them. The Temple of Doom and Crystal Skull are only myths and legends.

8 comments :

  1. Rev. Benjamin Harju said...

    Chris,

    My wife and I liked the movie a lot. We didn't have any of the issues you mentioned, aside from the alien thing (speaking for myself). Somehow it's easier to accept earthly supernatural events than it is extraterrestrials. But then again, I can't stand ET and refuse to be subjected to it.

    Though the Mud relationship was obvious from the start, and the nuclear bomb thing was over the top, I thought it was a very well done movie that gave a fitting and believable ending to the Indiana Jones saga. Plus I'm SO GLAD they chose not to do a torch passing sort of thing (SO GLAD SO GLAD).

  2. Rev. Eric J Brown said...

    I actually liked all the implied WWII escapades (which fit perfectly with the character but hadn't been anything I had thought of) - and the 50s overtones - McCarthyism, the Nuclear test site - loved them.

    A lot of the little touches were nice. . . but it wasn't as good a story as 1 or 3.

  3. Emily H. said...

    Yeah, the aliens(*sigh*)...
    I didn't find the "crystal skull" to be very believable - it looked like a prop in some scenes.

    Despite all that I'm sure it will end up in our dvd collection! ;D

  4. orrologion said...

    I thought the movie was chock full of groaning moments, personally, though I got caught up in the magic at various points. I just thought it was kind of phoned in, creatively. I bet Spielberg's next movie is really artsy and something you would never think would have been green lit, and this was the financial price he had to pay for it.

    A lot of scenery chewing, and I think Spielberg un-learned the lesson he should have learned by making Jaws - not showing is more interesting. When they should full on, long vies of the skull (filled with saran wrap and tin foil) I knew everything was going to be a little 'obvious', which was the case.

    The contrase with the 'reality' of the Grail and the Ark is interesting. Those are pieces that are known, most no one has ever heard of these Crystal Skulls and most of the one's I have seen, in the media surrounding the release of this movie, look nothing like the alien skull in the movie. The fact that a legend, story or artifact people have heard of might be true is what makes it interesting - we can await the next X-Files or SciFi movie to introduce us to a new, true, made-up something. The archaelogy bit is the grounding of the Indiana Jones series.

  5. Christopher D. Hall said...

    Christopher--good points. I was hoping a professional actor would show up and verify all my opinions ;)

    Things were obvious--but not always. Case in point. Why didn't Indy want to track down the girl that tried to kill him? When Mudd mentioned his mother's name, "Marion," if Indy was so in love with her still, wouldn't he have asked follow-up questions? If the Soviets wanted the skull returned in order to receive power, why did Indy want to return it? To save Oxley? I'm pretty dim at times, I must admit. But to me there wasn't a clear objective and obstruction.

    Raiders: 1.Find the Ark (good by itself) and keep from the Nazis.

    Temple: Save the village.

    Grail: Find Dad--and the Grail since it exists.

    Skull: Save old friend? Find kid's mom? Run away from the Russians? Retire?

  6. orrologion said...

    I agree. Great points. If it was on TV I would have left to do something else or fallen asleep. I wish we would have gone to see "Wall-E" instead.

  7. Emily H. said...

    Christopher, I would have guessed the Crystal Skull was filled with Saran Wrap and Christmas tinsel! Did your wife like the movie as much as you did?
    If either of you are looking for a good kid's movie, we saw Kung-Fu Panda and it was awesome. Jack Black was really great in that roll!

  8. Orianna Laun said...

    I liked the movie, but I would agree the aliens thing reminded me a little too much of "Stargate" (which, by the way, I liked).
    I read an article that Indiana Jones fans are now using the phrase "nuking the fridge" in the same withering terms that Happy Days fans used the phrase "jump the shark" to describe a futile attempt to bring back a show's popularity. I thought the nuking the fridge needed a large suspension of belief.