Friday, October 2, 2009

Indiana Jones

Originally written May 2008

Raiders of the Lost Ark is my favorite movie of all time. I think Indiana Jones is the greatest action hero ever created, and the Indiana Jones theme song is possibly one of the best movie scores ever. Point being, I LOVE Indiana Jones!

There had been talks of another Indiana Jones movie since I was in high school. There was always some excuse though. They couldn’t find a good script, Spielberg, Lucas or Ford had conflicting schedules, etc.

So when I heard rumors that they really were going to make another one, I was really skeptical. I basically thought “I will believe it when they start filming.” Well, that has come and gone, and after years and years of waiting, Indiana Jones is back! Sort of…

To be blunt, this movie sucked. As an action movie, it’s perfectly fine. But for Indiana Jones, it was just all over the place, and on more than one occasion, truly stupid.

Where do I even begin? How about the very beginning. Every Indy movie begins with the Paramount Pictures mountain dissolving into a real mountain, or at least a picture of one (Temple of Doom). On the trailer for this movie, it dissolved into something on a map, which I thought was clever. Well, in the actual movie, it dissolves into a pile of dirt that is the result of a little gopher. Stupid. It’s like a cartoon. And what is the point of having a gopher? Well, throughout the first scene, the gopher and his little family watch all the action. It’s like Caddy Shack or something. Whose idea was this? And why did they think that such stupid comedy belonged in an Indy film?

Anyway, so we come to find out that Indiana Jones and his friend, Mac, have been kidnapped by the Commies, and taken to a secret warehouse in Area 51. How did this kidnapping happen? We are never told.

So once at the warehouse, there is some “witty dialogue” between Indy and Mac. That’s fine, except for the fact that Indy isn’t really that witty, and he acts WAY too cocky. In Raiders, when Indy is in the Well of the Souls, and Belloq says “Why Dr. Jones, whatever are you doing in such a nasty place?” Indy responds with “why don’t you come down here? I’ll show ya!” And that’s about as clever/cocky as he gets, in those situations.

One thing that makes Indiana Jones so awesome is that he is vulnerable. He gets hurt, BIG TIME!! Just in Raiders, he gets shot, drug under/behind a truck and gets the crap beat out of him by a Nazi. He tries to stay calm as long as possible, but when he is really in a jam, he starts to sweat. Remember in Temple of Doom, when Willie won’t pull the handle to open the door, which will save Indy and Short Round from the room with the ceiling spikes, and Indy says “weeee arrrre gooooing to DIE!!” And throughout the whole scene, Indy is not exactly calm. Man, what an awesome scene!

Anyway, so Indy does some running and jumping in the warehouse and escapes, and that’s fine. I was surprised at how well Harrison (if it was actually him) pulled that stuff off.

He then runs into a pseudo-town that is apparently made to test the effects of an A-Bomb. Unfortunately, he finds himself in this little town just about two minutes before the bomb is dropped, so he hides in a refrigerator. The bomb goes off, the town is destroyed, and the fridge goes flying, hundreds of feet through the air. It crashes hard in the desert, and then Indy opens the door and climbs out, no problem. That is something you might see in a cartoon, but not Indiana Jones.

One thing that I always liked about the Indy movies was that even though they are farfetched, they have a very slight hint of realism. That is, the things he does ARE possible, just very dangerous. We know they are possible, because someone actually did the stunts. The giant boulder in Raiders is real (while it’s not rock, it is still heavy), someone actually was drug under a truck on a dirt road, someone actually dove from a horse onto a moving tank. No one is actually getting blown through the air in a refrigerator. And even if they did, the gophers still wouldn’t care.

The movie continues, and we meet Mutt, who is a stereotypical 1950’s tough guy. For dropping out of school, he has a very strong interest in archaeology. So Mutt and Indy chat about something, I don’t even know what, and somehow the plot moves along. I still have no idea what’s going on, or what the point of anything is. Maybe if I watched it again, I would figure it out. But it seemed like we were never given a very solid explanation for anything.

So Indy and Mutt fly to South America, and have some adventures down there and are eventually caught again by the Commies. While caught, Indy runs into his ex, ex lover, Marion Ravenwood. Apparently they were engaged, and then Indy got cold feet. Well, after about two minutes of arguing, they are in love again.

So Mutt helps them escape into the woods, only for Indy and Marion to be caught in some sort of dry quicksand. Indy takes a few seconds to explain the difference between dry and wet quicksand, which is REALLY not something he would do. It reminded me of some nerdy scientist who takes every chance he gets to explain how something is. Indy is not that thick.

So while stuck, there is some madness, and yelling. I find it odd that they were yelling so loud, since the Commies were looking for them, and were no more than 100 feet away. One would think that you would try to be quiet, but whatever.

So then there is a chase scene through the jungle, and it’s ok. It looks pretty fake most of the time, probably because of all the CGI or something. Everyone then crashes into a giant, killer, ant hill. The ants belong in movie like “The Mummy”, not Indiana Jones. Of course, Indy always faces something nasty like snakes, bugs, or rats. But these creatures are always real, not made up.

One thing that was always so awesome about Indiana Jones, was in his fights, he would go all out. He really put a lot of “umph” into it. 4:00-4:15 of this clip is for my money, some of the best punches ever filmed. In every fight scene I have ever made, I have tried to copy those punches. Now contrast those with the punches from the current movie. Pshhh. I guess it’s not just the mileage anymore.

Ok enough whining about that stuff, let’s get to the heart of the problem: Aliens. I was ok with the alien skull. But soon as the alien skeletons formed together and made an actual alien, I was pissed. ALIENS!? I mean, c’mon. At least the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail have some historical aspect to them, even if such things did or did not actually exist. Tons of people have wondered about the Ark, as well as the holy grail, and searched for it. But aliens? C’mon. This is the realm of new age hoo-haws, and conspiracy theorists. I bet that if an archaeologist said he was going to try and find the lost Ark, his colleagues would say “…ok, good luck with that.” But if he said “I am going to try and hunt down the sources of these alien skulls”, he would be laughed out of town. And then the giant UFO, oh man oh man. It was like Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Stooopid.

The movie also lacked excitement. There was never any time where I thought “OH SNAP!!!” or anything of the sort. The movie also lacked a theme song. Of course, there is the Indiana Jones theme, but the second and third movies also have a theme of their own.

Ok enough complaining. I’m sorry, but I just really didn’t like this movie at all. I waited for so long, and it was really disappointing. Nothing about it had the Indiana Jones feel. The characters were totally different, there wasn’t the excitement, suspense or thrills of the original.

So go see it if you want. But as for me, I am gonna stick to the original.

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