Monday, June 02, 2008

The Indy 4 Post

Hopefully you grabbed a minnit to go see the new movie, but if not, a heads up that there are spoilers for those who haven't. For a spoiler-free review, check this one out. I spent most of the movie with either a WTF?! face on or a shit-eating grin across my face. I'm quite torn over the whole thing in a fairly positive way. I think the first half is much better than the second, which descends into a step-by-step, almost draggy puzzle/quest. But it is a ton of fun and stays true to the spirit of things.

But let's get this out of the way.

Why the Aliens Didn't Suck:
1. It is in the mythology/history of the skull. This I learned from an uber-dramatic SciFi special and a not-quite-as-dramatic-but-hey-it's-still-the History Channel special.

2. More importantly, it fits in the 1950s Atomic theme. Which we get hit over the head with in what I thought was a great opening first act, mushroom cloud and all.

Why the Aliens Totally Did Suck:
1. Did you look at them?!
2. Steven Spielberg made this movie already, right?
3. Did you look at them?!
4. This was a big step away from the artifacts aspect of the first three Indy movies. The Sankara Stones, the Ark, and the Grail are all specifically man made objects, and the supernatural element is channeled through these very much earthly objects. This time, it was an alien skull, not an object "made or shaped by human craft." I don't know why this is such a sticking point for me. But it is. And in the end, I'll admit, I'm not a big fan of aliens.

What Worked:
1. The opening credits: Established time and place and was beautifully shot.
2. The Marion-Indy banter: Because thank god the screenwriter didn't learn from the Attack of the Clones School of Romantic Leads Dialogue. Likewise, the general Harrison-Shia-Karen dialogue sparkled.
3. Indy Being Old. It was a treat to see him as the professor, though beyond the dry sand moment they didn't take advantage of it throughout. I didn't have any doubts that Harrison Ford would be able to pull it off, but I wasn't sure if the screenplay would spend the whole time in a confusion of contradictory geezer jokes and crazy action moves. Thankfully, they've allowed Indy to mature rather than just age.
4. Okay, let's admit it. Even though all the self-referential things were about as subtle as that giant hammer, you enjoyed them.
5. Shia LaBeouf's character, Mutt, was genuinely charming and well-acted. I had concerns, but I think in the end. . .
6. The "passing of the hat/whip" was classy AND badass as fuck.
7. John Williams' reworking the theme for the end credits! A little treat at the end.
8. The format. While I feel that the end suffered, the general idea of a big baddie after a source of ultimate power, the big minion dude, the sidekick.
9. Marion! Severely underused and -appreciated Karen Allen was lovely, and the writing kept Marion in character.
10. The Cast. No false notes or weak points.

What Didn't Work:
1. The Quest part. Three waterfalls and the-skull-as-key later, there was little satisfaction in the payoff. Even if it was a big fucking room full of big fucking priceless artifacts.
2. Oh god. The Aliens and their Saran-wrap skulls and their spaceship.

What the Fuck:
1. The destruction of the valley. I ALREADY SAW THAT MOVIE. (A billion times.)
2. They wasted the always great Ray Winstone in a dull, uncreative role. His sole motivating force was greed, and, sure-- you can do things with that. They didn't. They tried to throw in a little something in the end with the wink, but by then, it was too late.
3. Sallah?
4. Denholm Elliot's statue's head being knocked off is so not funny.
5. John Hurt apparently didn't need any costume/makeup change between this and The Proposition set.
6. Wait a minnit, here it comes. . . What the FUCK was up with those fucking prairie dogs (?) and the fucking monkeys? Huh?


Anonymous said...

Great Review!! You've done a masterful job in breaking down what did and didn't work and at this point I'm willing to agree that it MOSTLY "stays true to the spirit of things." But I was pretty upset about it for a couple of days after I saw it, and here's why:
1. the plot was pretty weak - I've seen fan films that have better stories (and scripts)
2. there were parts where they were spot-on, so why couldn't they get it all right (or at least more of it)?
3. What happened to Indy - where was the wise-cracking, reckless smart aleck who somehow kept everything under control (mostly)? This Indy seemed a little too tame, a little too uncertain.
4. he only used his whip ONCE!!
5. There wasn't nearly enough screen time for Marion.
6. The genre (created by Lucas/Speilberg!) is based on action-adventure shading to historical fantasy - sci-fi doesn't really have a place in the mix.
7. The first three won seven or eight Academy Awards between them - this one won't win anything.
8. What's up with the stupid prarie dogs?!!?
9. They had twenty years to put this together and this was the best they could do? Lucas/Speilberg should have handed it off to Stephen Sommers and taken roles as executive producers (at most)
I realize that my expectations were WAY too high and I was probably doomed to be disappointed. At this point,I think the positive stuff outweighs the negative (mostly) and any Indy is better than no Indy, right? - but I probably won't watch it again.
My fingers are crossed for The Dark Night and Hellboy 2!!!

McCrank said...

I thought it sucked. Here are my reasons:

2). Three Waterfalls Skit
3). Alien Chamber (Tom Cruise Influence, perhaps? I hear he has Speilberg by the short hairs).
4). Scientology all over the place
5). Hard to make it unique, when it's been done to death since the original (Nick Cage, Tom Hanks) was released.
6). Out of this world plot. The originals at least had some respectable realism.
7). CGI -- out my ass (It's best when it's mixed with real life. See next upcoming Hulk flop.)

b said...

Argh! The prairie dogs!

Yeah, I think the thing is that they did a lot of little things right, but the big things (plot, not enough Marion, the ending, and the aliens, which everyone agrees on) wrong.

I was watching Raiders of the Lost Ark last night on USA (for some reason, even though I own the DVD). . . the good old days.


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