Trilogies are a crowd… (Indiana Jones)

May 25, 2008 at 9:00 am | Posted in movies | 4 Comments

Prof. Ox: How much of human life is wasted in waiting.

Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
AMC Stony Brook – May 23, 2008

There will always be room for a “good old-fashioned action-adventure picture” in movie making. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have cornered the market since the 1970’s, beginning with the Star Wars Trilogy and E.T. respectively. Undoubtedly, the original series featuring Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. (reprised by Harrison Ford) and his adventure quests are revered as milestones in film history.

Back again after 19 years, the three amigos collaborate once more on the latest installment, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. (watch the trailer) The classic score featuring the Indiana Jones theme also continues with the brilliant John Williams.

Since I honestly have nothing bad to say about the movie in and of itself, I will first defer to a true fan’s perspective. Here is an excellent and through review by Daily Camera. Quoted as feeling giddy during the first ten minutes of the film, this legend no doubt continues for the fanboys of our generation (and children thereof) referred to most recently in Orgconfuz’s Speed Racer review. This review also puts forth the notion of not spoiling the movie for all the innocent children reading the internet. I, for one, don’t know any children that read my blog – except for those at heart.

Continue at your own risk of spoilers…

It’s 1957, the height of the Cold War… Indy narrowly escapes capture from the Soviet Army, almost taking part in a nuclear blast near Area 51. Later, Professor Jones meets up with Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), a rebellious young man who enlists Jones’ help to find the coveted and feared Crystal Skull of Akator. Their quest leads them to the remote corners of Peru, where they come upon a cadre of Soviet agents, led by the icy Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), who are also scouring the globe for the precious skull. Only Indy and Mutt can stop this powerful artifact from falling into the hands of those who plan to use it to dominate the world. Many characters return to enrich the story, including Mac the greedy and unnecessarily evil triple-double agent, as well as Marion (Ravenwood) Williams, who in the middle of a high speed chase reveals to Jones that he is the true father of Mutt.

My overall reaction boils down to this: the movie was good. Special effects were executed well and carried the story with a sense of intrigue that only Spielberg/Lucas can provide, with hokey dialogue and witty one-liners. The cast as a whole performed admirably, especially Cate Blanchett as the villain. The plot continued seamlessly as if the audience were attending a party they never left. And as far as the circle of life aspect goes, it was of course only natural that the torch would eventually have to be passed.

Funny thing about Harrison Ford is that he must have fought against a return to this beloved character for a exponentially long time. I mean, I understand about typecasting… but if Daniel Radcliffe can get naked with a horse, that means actors do what they gotta to do. As the years went by, we the viewing public have endured remakes of Sabrina and box-office bombs like Hollywood Homicide and Six Days, Seven Nights (a love story between Ford and Anne Heche – of all people). One would think that the balance of gargantuan success of the Indiana Jones series would have eventually outweighed any satisfaction from the crappy quality of projects Ford participated in – okay, except Air Force One. It might have served him better to begin the resurrection a tad earlier. You know, when he was younger in years. Because of this, the “It’s not as easy as it used to be” jokes resonate with just a bit of salt.

Getting back to the passing of the torch, I don’t 100% agree with the casting choice of Shia LaBeouf. On the one hand, I am counting my lucky stars that nepotism was evaded and Hayden Christensen was nowhere to be seen. (Furthermore, if I found that he turned down this opportunity in conflict to Awake, I will laugh for a hundred years. lol) On the other, I found Shia LaBeouf just a bit boyish for my liking. It may as well have been Indiana Jones: starring Haley Joel Osmont. The soda-pop James Dean wannabe look may have suited the time in which the movie was set, but its use in this film became more of a cliched caricature of a 50’s teenager. The “comb schtick” added to this feeling, but was over-utilized for comic effect at times. However, LaBeouf has been an up and coming start for quite a while. Though he might have been inadequately cast to play the fruit of Indiana Jones’ loins, he portrayed the part well. We can see that this guy is going places with his career.

Rumor has it that this is not the end for the Mutt Williams character. According to a friend, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the first of yet another trilogy, the second featuring Harrison Ford in more of a father figure role – a la Sean Connery, and the final film will not include Harrison Ford at all! (Or maybe a desk photo of him…:)) After seeing this film, I really see no need for a continuation. To produce an heir as a plot device to continue what can only be described as a spin-off of a once great character… is just the Hollywood machine at work, I guess. There have already been three great Indiana Jones films. After 19 years, the opening weekend for this film is bound to hit record highs. Question is, is it really necessary to belabor a storyline in spite of the reverence for the original trilogy?

In reference to the title of this review, I propose that it should not be a requirement to extend the adventures of any character if it will not be true to the character himself. Lucas/Spielberg/Ford have built an empire with this thrill-seeking hero and in my opinion should honor that, not drag it into the next century. I know many will not agree with me. After all, it has been done successfully and semi-successfully in the past (James Bond, Jason of Friday the 13th, etc.) But if it ain’t broke, don’t make A.I. 2.

RATING: ****/5 (I wrestled between a 3 and 4, but ultimately this is a “body of work” award)
Recommendation: Go see it in the theater. This series is meant for the big screen, not just big screen TV.



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  1. I might go see it tonight

  2. I don’t think it was Ford delaying a return to the character. It took years for them to find a script they liked. See the wiki page for details. Amen to the no Hayden! I like Shia, and I liked him here, altho his appearance was a little odd. He did look cool during his first shot on the motorcycle with his hat. I thought he worked well in the ensemble. Whether he can carry the series or not I’ll reserve judgement on til I see him try. In general I liked the movie. I actually liked it better the second time after I knew what to expect and could just enjoy it. This movie definitely has more over the top suspension of belief then the rest of the trilogy but the series has it’s origin in the old adventure serials so it’s appropriate. The action scenes were wonderful. It was nice to see Marion, but she was a little too enamored with Indy. On the one hand it was nice to see her take charge in some scenes, but on the other hand she seemed just a little too proud of “capturing” Indy at the end.

  3. According to a recent interview on Lyons & Bailes, Ford admits to being the scapegoat for the time elapse. However, it was actually all three gentlemen that wanted to not only find a good script, but to schedule enough time for them to create it, “as Lucas and Spielberg are very busy men.” So I stand corrected. 🙂

  4. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Sadducee!

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