Monday, May 26, 2008

Indiana Jones update: Movie review Well, I went against my usual and went to see Crystal Skull on opening weekend.

Non-spoiler section: Overall I liked it. I'd probably agree with most reviewers and give it something like 3.5 out of 5. In the Indy pantheon, I'd rank it below Last Crusade and above Temple of Doom. The main things cutting into its appeal for me were kind of a goofy main plot combined with some really lame scenes. None of the characters was really goofy and irritating, even Shia LaBeouf who I expected to hate.

I never really got into the aliens angle, but it didn't detract that much from the whole thing. It seemed far more suited to Lara Croft though. The actual crystal skull was kind of cheesy. It looked a plastic skull filled with Saran Wrap. And it didn't look anything like the "real" ones and that seemed to surprise no one. It was really near the end where the whole premise got kind of silly. They did an excellent job with the characters; they (both the actors and the writers) really captured the original characters, aged somewhat. That is, they weren't just there for nostalgia and to act all goofy and make people smile just by seeing them again. It worked for me. Jon Rhys-Davies (Sallah) wasn't in it which was a bit of a disappointment, and of course, Denholm Elliot (Marcus) had died several years ago. I didn't think (most of, see below) the action scenes were too overwrought and most of it was fairly believable. Only one major creepy-crawlie, the ants, which was, eh, kind of anticlimactic.

There wasn't a whole lot of archaeology in it, save for nearer the end. That part wasn't too bad really; it's the usual fantasizing stuff, but nothing over the top "Huh???"-inducing.


Okay, the following parts really annoyed me. First, Mutt swinging through the vines in the jungle. That was kind of juvenile and we don't believe it would either be possible physically or, given that the other vehicles were speeding away, distance-wise. You.Just.Can't.Do.It.

Second, note to filmmakers: Please, please, PLEASE, try to show at least a GRUDGING RESPECT FOR THE FRICKIN' LAWS OF PHYSICS. Why the heck would they have a lead-lined REFRIGERATOR in the blast zone (though I might be able to think of some reasons)? And you would simply not survive being in a fridge that was thrown a mile or so into the air. Just because you're in a box doesn't mean you're not feeling everything the outside of the box is going through. Next thing you'll have an action hero in a free-falling elevator jumping up at the last second to save himself. Arrgh. Not as bad as being surrounded by lakes of lava and ignoring radiant heat, but still. Yeah, I'm talking to YOU Spielberg and Lucas.

And no, we also don't think anyone wold survive going over the waterfalls, let alone stay in the amphibious vehicle.

That and the flying saucer at the end really detracted. Ergh. I suppose it's not any weirder than an Ark vaporizing people, but it was kind of cheesy. And why would skeletons still be animate? Huh?

Those are the bad bits. There were some touches I really liked. They had Mutt play off Indiana really well. The former wasn't a total namby-pamby but he wasn't helpless either. I liked how he started off thinking Indy was just some old teacher but then when they got into the field he (Indy) showed him a few things. The blow gun bit was classic and comes out of left field. I also liked the library scene where one of his students asked him a question after they'd barreled in on the motorcycle. Can't remember what Indy told him to read, but I recognized it as actual anthropological theory. Oh yeah, it was Childe.

The end was pretty well done as well. In the last scene Indy's fedora is blown over to Mutt who picks it up, looks at it kind of reverently and is about to put it on, ala young Indy in Last Crusade and possibly making abundantly clear the filmmakers decision to pass the torch on to new action-adventure hero. . . . .when Indy grabs it from him and puts it on himself. Well done, lads, well done.

Go see it. More than once.