Tuesday, May 27, 2008

um...really?

This post will be about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and will be almost entirely spoilers, so don't read it if you are still waiting to see it!

(SPOILERS!!!)

Disclaimer: I re-watched Raiders of the Lost Ark a few weeks ago with the intention of going through the whole franchise before the new movie came out, but the awesome power of the combination of laziness and busy-ness prevented me from getting to Temple of Doom and Last Crusade. I haven't seen those two since I was a kid, so I'm not an up-to-date expert on the Indyverse. Sorry.

Okay, so I saw this latest Indy exploit on Friday, and was all set to blog about it that night, but in the end I decided to give myself a couple of days to muse on the points which I'd had mixed feelings about. If you're reading these spoilers, then you know that the big to-do of the movie was, after all, little green men. Okay, for whatever silly reason they were "inter-dimensional beings" instead of creatures from another planet, but they were skinny, big-headed aliens in a flying saucer, fresh from the pages of the Weekly World News.

This denouement was the biggest problem I was having with the movie, and my take on it has only slightly softened with time. I was prepared to suspend disbelief...I mean, if only the Nazis had shut their eyes, their heads wouldn't have melted, right? I know not to except modernist realism. But little green men just seem too foreign to be seamlessly integrated into the South American historical exploration which is so fun for the bulk of the movie. Apparently the crystal skull mythology is well-tread territory, but the MacGuffin way in which its handled just throws all credibility out the window.

Shia LeBouf was surprisingly not annoying, and played off of Ford quite well. The chase and fight scenes were juvenile, and a mixed bag of entertainment. There was never as much of a sense of impending peril as in, say, Jurassic Park, and there were a few too many Shia-gets-hit-in-the-balls moments (in a row). Sword fighting - fine, cool. Swinging on vines with monkeys and using the skull as an orb of protection...this kind of stuff was just lame as can be. Also, Cate Blanchett, for once, fell flat in this role, in a horrible haircut, outfit, and accent, and was nothing to be afraid of.

The first twenty minutes were enjoyable, and gave me hope that the film might exceed my expectations. I was willing to wince past the refrigerator saving Indy in the NUCLEAR EXPLOSION because the rest of that scene was so cool. But once we got to South America, and the worst excuse ever for a Jonesy's-afraid-of-snakes reference, I was completely checked out of the movie. I've tried to give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt that the environment of 1950s paranoia (Reds, moon men) is well-suited to the inclusion of little green men, but the execution was little more than the effort put in to a 50s sci-fi B movie that Mutt might have taken his best gal to. Too much CGI and not enough clarity in the plot...what an unfortunate, high-grossing vehicle for Ford (still hot) and Indy.

2 comments:

Bryan said...

I don't want to sound like I'm defending it, because it is mostly terrible, but are aliens really any more outlandish than a guy who can rip the still beating heart out of your chest? Or, for that matter, a cup that grants eternal life? I kind of like that they've acknoweldged the existence of both "interdimensional beings" and a Judeo-Christian God over the course of this thing.

Kat said...

Yeah, I see where you're coming from. And that is the ounce of leeway I'm willing to give the movie. I mean, aliens fit in with the 50s style of the movie, and they definitely might as well be in the diegesis if the other supernatural stuff is. But it could have been done with any flair at all, and it simply wasn't. We're shown the boring-looking aliens, when they could have been treated with a bit of mystery, the crystal skull itself is a lame plot device (hold it up to stuff and see what happens!), and Irina is a suuuper lame villain.

As far as the "interdimensional beings" and their interaction with a Judeo-Christian God, well, I could talk about that for hours. I'll leave it at mentioning that the Pope recently admitted that belief in extraterrestrials does not conflict with Catholic faith. I tend to disagree, but hey, I'm no Pope.