Monday, May 26, 2008
Ten reasons why "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" sucks ass
You know, there are people in college now who weren't alive when the last Indiana Jones film came out. That makes me feel old. It also makes me feel sorry for them, because their first experience seeing one on the big screen is the steaming pile of shit that is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
A year ago, who would have predicted that the fourth Rambo film would be superior to the fourth Indy film? It would have been practically unthinkable. And yet, here we are.
And now, ten reasons why Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull sucks ass (spoilers ahead):
1) The opening sequence: Raiders of the Lost Ark had the iconic sequence with the idol and the boulder. Temple of Doom had the really exciting Japanese nightclub scene. Last Crusade had the "Indy origin story" with River Phoenix. Crystal Skull? Nothing even approaching any of them. It was just total by-the-numbers action fare.
Also, I'm usually willing to give these films a fair degree of latitude when it comes to Indy's whip and its magical ability to wrap and unwrap around things at will. But how the hell did it become long enough to reach from the ceiling of the warehouse down to the floor? I'm pretty sure they don't make hundred foot-long bullwhips.
2) The flying fridge: This is simply one of those love-it-or-hate-it gags. I hated it.
3) Natives, natives everywhere: What's up with all the various ethnic people hiding in holes until trespassers arrive? Indy and Mutt show up at the graveyard, and they get attacked by pygmies with blowguns. They go to the temple, and guards just emerge from holes in the ceiling. This seems somewhat implausible. Do they just hang out there all day? Don't they do anything for fun? I miss the old days when all the villains were either Nazis or cult members and everything made sense.
4) Old people suck: Throughout the film, everyone kept making a big deal about how old Indy was. In fact, I don't think ten minutes passed without some reference to his age. But did Harrison Ford really look that old? With a bit of hair dye, he could have passed for ten years younger. Which means they could have set this film back in the 40s, where the franchise belongs, and maybe squeezed another film or two out before people started referring to Indy as "gramps." Speaking of which...
5) Fucking Shia LaBeouf: Generally, I like LaBeouf, and I think he's a pretty good actor. But he wasn't right for this part. The non-stop greaser gags got old fast, especially that stupid comb. And it didn't help that when he first appears, he looks less like an action hero, and more like the biker from the Village People. At the end of the film, when he's about to put on Indy's hat, I came as close as I ever have in my life to shouting at the screen.
6) Marion: First, how many people named Marion do you know? I've never actually met one myself, and I've only even heard of three: Barry, Jones, and Barber. So when Mutt was telling Indy about his mom Marion who sent him to find Indy, how does he not know who he's talking about? The fucking audience isn't ever supposed to be smarter than Indiana Jones.
As for Marion, she was okay, I guess, but not nearly as much fun as she was in Raiders. And why was she grinning all the time? Was Karen Allen just happy to be employed again? Whatever. Until the very end, I was hoping Indy would ditch Marion, hook up with Irina, and convince her to renounce communism and maybe grow her hair out and dye it blonde.
7) Aliens: I'll buy the Ark of the Covenant. I'll buy magic stones. I'll buy the Holy Grail. You know what I won't buy, though? Aliens in an Indiana Jones film. (Which in a way is kind of ironic, as there's a much greater chance aliens exist in real life than any of the above.) Incorporating aliens into the franchise takes it too far away from its roots.
Supposedly, during the development process, George Lucas really wanted to do Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars. Spielberg and Ford vetoed that idea because it was too out there. So...how was this any better? There was a saucer. There were saucer men. Was "Mars" the offensive part?
8) Monkey see, monkey do: When Mutt starts swinging from vine to vine, ala Tarzan, I heard someone in the theater mutter, "Oh, come on," in a really irritated tone. Then I realized it was me. Based on the fact that no one in the audience shushed me, I'm going to assume they all agreed with me.
9) Irina's death: So Irina puts the skull back on the alien's body. The alien says it wants to give her a gift. She says she wants to "know everything." At which point the room falls into some sort of vortex, and she gets burned up. Huh? What the hell kind of gift was that?
To be fair, Raiders set the bar impossibly high for climactic death scenes. In fact, I could go to every movie that comes out for the rest of my life, and I'd be willing to bet that there won't be anything as good as this:
Still, I like to think Crystal Skull could have come up with something better than the cheap knockoff they did here.
10) No one, singular cool moment: In every other Indiana Jones film, there's been at least one moment that made me go, "Holy shit, that was awesome!" (In Raiders alone, there are, like, twenty of them.) The only "Holy shit, that was awesome!"moment in Crystal Skull is when the closing credits start.
At the end of the film, there was...I can't even call it a smattering of applause. One person started clapping softly, then stopped when no one else joined in. Then someone else tried it. And maybe one other person. It was truly pathetic.
Was there any good stuff? Sure. The jeep sequence was fantastic, Cate Blanchett made a decent enough villain (not as good as Belloq, but it's not like Mola Ram or Walter Donovan were all that great), and Harrison Ford and Karen Allen still have pretty good chemistry. I'll even admit that I enjoyed a couple of the Indy/Mutt scenes. But the bad far, far outweighs the good.
Last week, Lucas said that the franchise could conceivably continue with Mutt taking over as the lead character. Don't even think about it, George. Not only should there not be another Indiana Jones film, but Paramount should pretend that this one never happened. Quickly recall and burn all of the prints currently in theaters, destroy all the merchandise, and no DVD release. Just totally erase it from society's memory. Then, five hundred years from now, people would have conversations like this:
"Say, did you hear that there was actually a fourth Indiana Jones film?"
"Nah, that's just an old Hollywood urban legend. You know, kind of like that ghost in Three Men and a Baby. Hey, you want to go to the Holodeck?"
And they'd be better off for it.