Friday, May 23, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

At the ripe age of 29, I can count myself as one of those young'uns who was fortunate enough to see at least one of the earlier Indiana Jones films in the theatre. I'm not entirely sure if I saw Temple of Doom in theatres (which I have a soft spot for, but that's another post), but I went to see The Last Crusade with my mom and my friend, Jennifer, shortly before moving away from Canton, Ohio. I grew up with Indy, and love those movies very much, and was very excited when I heard that Spielberg and Lucas were making another one. I do have to admit to a level of dubiousness given George Lucas's passion for digital cinema and his beloved green room.
Thankfully, Spielberg's cooler head (mostly) prevailed and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is, indeed, mostly CGI-free. And it was shot on film. And it looks fantastic. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Lucas.
To catch you up: this film is about the reappearance of one of the mythical crystal skulls and the Russian soldiers, lead by Cate Blanchett, who are after its power. Only Indiana can save the day!
The film was FRAKKIN' AWESOME (as I've texted to friends and put in the booth log at work.) It was fun, funny, exciting, intense, and everything that an Indiana Jones movie should be. It fits with the rest of them almost perfectly. I almost wish I had watched it with the public. Almost.
High on the awesome list was bringing back Marion Ravenwood-Williams. Now, I'm in the minority when I say that I like Kate Capshaw. Willie Scott was annoying, but she was designed to be annoying and Capshaw did a great job. I don't even know the name of the actress who played the third Jones girl, but she reminded me more of a Bond girl than anything...but Marion was something special and Karen Allen was great in the part. Bringing her back was a stroke of genius and she was great.
Shia LeBeouf was good as Mutt Williams. I kind of fear for the future of Indy (I'm not too keen on the idea of them making more Indy films without Indy), but he was a good sidekick. The vine scene was stupid, though.
I do have to mention a couple of things at the very beginning of the movie that felt really off. I don't know if it was a reshoot or if it was the first day, but the lighting was strange and Harrison Ford's ADR was strange, almost Deckard-like. Maybe it was shot on Lucas's green room up until they got into the hangar...but whatever. It looked and sounded bad. I never thought I'd pick on something technical in a Spielberg / Lucas joint, but there it is.
AND, I have a problem with retconning Indy a military career (was this mentioned in Young Indiana Jones? Or some random comic book or novelization or something?) How would he have time to teach, even part time, search for artifacts, have kick-butt adventures, have all those girlfriends, AND spy on the baddies? Especially when the baddies all seem to know who he is? Every time he introduced himself in past movies, or was introduced, he was pretty much universally received with, "Ahh! Doctor Indiana Jones, the imminent archaeologist!"
This newly added military career (so he'd be Colonel Doctor Henry "Indiana" Jones, Junior? That's almost as big a mouthful as the movie's title...) is pretty much not necessary except as a mouthpiece for Lucas and Spielberg, through writer David Koepp, to say a few things about politics. There had to be an easier way to remind the under-thirty crowd about the 50's Red Scare for the story AND to compare it to today's political climate without taking the unnecessary time out.
Overall: frakkin' awesome. There's no other way to say it. Go see it...I know I'll be seeing it a few more times before it leaves the theatre.

EDITED TO ADD: (Please excuse me for being remiss in updating this post...I just didn't think about it when I replied to him in the comments! Whoops...) Thanks to NoelCT, I have been informed that the Imminent Archaeologist's military background was indeed covered in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles which Lucas calls canon. I have been schooled!


NoelCT said...

George Lucas has openly stated that YOUNG INDIANA JONES is cannon. Indy did, indeed, serve in the military as a young man in WWI and we saw him in various battles and on several spy missions. The adventure with Pancho Villa he recounted in CRYSTAL SKULL was in the first episode.

Lori said...

Thanks for that!!

Hmm...still seems a bit strange, but I haven't seen Young Indy so I can't say. As much as I love the movies, I can't bear to see anyone except Harrison (and River Phoenix) in the fedora...there's just something not right about it.