Ok it’s late. I saw Indy 4 last night (this morning?) at midnight, didn’t get much sleep and spent the whole day hard at work tossing Vipers around and bitching about the movie. It’s past midnight now so this will be a short, spoiler-free review, but see the picture up above? That’s basically how I feel about it…
I know, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but after you see the movie you’ll get it. Then you’ll come back here and take another look at this post and you’ll laugh your ass off. It’s weird, I didn’t hate the movie, and neither did the other members of the Super Summer Movie Fun Club, Go! But well into the night, we were foaming at the mouth, expressing our frustration about how much was wrong with the film. A frustration that, 24 hours later, still drives me to doing this:
It’s most likely because Temple of the Crystal Skull starts out on the right foot. We are all pretty much in agreement that, with one glaring, monstrous, unforgivable exception (see above images), the entire first act of the movie was really good. Despite the intense feeling of anticippointment that has built up over the last few months, we were actually beginning to think we’d be in for a fun, smart, grinning ear-to-ear ride. Maybe all those lowered expectations was the real movie magic!
But then the floor dropped out and our already lowered expectations were dumped into the sub-basement – which then collapsed, tumbling what was left of our hopes for this movie into a bottomless pit.
After the first act, it seems like everyone just stops trying. Harrison stops acting, Steven hands the director’s chair over to George and George is too busy playing with his digital monkeys. The movie becomes little more than an exercise in connecting the dots between action sequences (and when screenwriter David Keopp connects the dots, it’s not with a fine-quilled pen; more like a can of black spray paint).
And speaking of action sequences… remember all that talk from the production camp that Kingdom Of The Christmas Skull was going to be a return to old-school action? That they were unplugging their computers and focusing on stunts, physical effects and “keeping it real?”
Come on, George, do you honestly believe people can’t tell the difference between real and fake??
The computer-enhanced action went so far over the top it’s in orbit right now. Even the old movie serials made some effort to have you believe what the hero did was possible, and part of that was because it was a real actor on a real set fighting real guys; it inherently looked more plausible because it was real. When you “enhance” an action sequence past the point of physical possibility, guess what? No one buys it. And when no one buys it, they stop caring and when they stop caring, no matter how much action you throw at them, they get bored.
Part of the charm of the original Raiders was that things didn’t always go right for Indy; he’d get into a scrape, his clever plan would go wrong and he’d just manage to squeak his way out of it. Not only was it believable, it was charming. It said “here’s a guy who thinks he’s an action hero but he’s just a regular, falible guy like you and me.”
In Kingpin of the Crispy School, there is no attempt whatsoever to make you believe; early in the film they acknowledge that Indy is now sixty, seemingly to plant seeds for later, but they are never sewn; “Grandpa” Jones gets into impossible situation after impossible situation, simply punching, shooting and driving his way to victory as if he were thirty.
And so I was bored. Ok, sure, I know Indy’s not going to die, but at least hold my attention with an interesting or inventive way out!
Ultimately, despite my kvetching, I think Cream Bun of A Pistol Dull has an enjoyment factor slightly ahead of Temple of Doom and Last Crusade, largely for the wonderful first act. In describing the rest of the movie, I think Princess Leia said it best when she told Han, “you have your moments – not many of them, but you do have them.”
Super Summer Movie Fun Club, Go! members crack their bullwhips:
STEVE: 5/10 (with RAIDERS) 7/10 (without RAIDERS)
For my money, the original RAIDERS is a perfect film of its type. It’s difficult for me to judge CRYSTAL SKULL against it because the sequel feels like it takes place in a completely different universe — just as TEMPLE OF DOOM and LAST CRUSADE do. In my opinion, NONE of these movies are truly worthy follow-ups, so I choose to compare the new film only to the earlier prequel & sequel. SKULL doesn’t have the demented energy/grating humor of DOOM, or the gentle schmaltz/insulting self-parody of CRUSADE. For better or worse, it feels more even and unified in a way the other movies do not. The opening act of SKULL is terrific, but unfortunately it transitions into somewhat dull and meandering midsection (flabby, like an old man?), before coming to an intriguing finale. Spalko is the best villain since Belloq, and Mutt is a surprisingly effective sidekick. The biggest disappointments to me were two things I was most looking forward to: Karen Allen and the John Williams score. While it’s clearly no RAIDERS, I think this is clearly the best of the other three. (Yes, I liked the fridge. So sue me.)