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Jason Bortz

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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It's increasingly unlikely INDY V will happen. That said, I wouldn't mind if it did.

You are a sick, sick man.

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It's increasingly unlikely INDY V will happen. That said, I wouldn't mind if it did.

Considering that post-Raiders the movies were universally ok-to-mediocre, I agree. Then again, I didn't hate Crystal Skull nearly as much as everyone else on the planet seems to--and, specifically, I didn't hate Shia nearly as much as ditto. So yeah.

Edited by NBooth

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Wow, who'd've thought Spielberg would be so passive-aggressive towards Lucas?

(I'm with this blogger: I hated Jones 4 and hope this franchise will not venture beyond Lego video game territory ever again, but I rather liked Jurassic Park 3 and would be happy to see another dino movie.)

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Steven Spielberg on the storytelling in Crystal Skull (It's all George's fault), and on who's to blame for "nuking the fridge."

That preposterous scene continues to be about the only thing I can remember about Crystal Skull. Better ridiculous than dull. Indy 4 had too much of the latter.

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Steven Spielberg on the storytelling in Crystal Skull (It's all George's fault), and on who's to blame for "nuking the fridge."

That preposterous scene continues to be about the only thing I can remember about Crystal Skull. Better ridiculous than dull. Indy 4 had too much of the latter.

I always think of seeing Shia LaBlunder swinging on vines through the jungle, in an entourage of monkeys, in order to take a shortcut and catch up with a truck chase... or something like that. That's totally looney toons... the low point of the whole series, IMHO.

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I always think of seeing Shia LaBlunder swinging on vines through the jungle, in an entourage of monkeys, in order to take a shortcut and catch up with a truck chase... or something like that. That's totally looney toons... the low point of the whole series, IMHO.

Same here. I actually thought the fridge scene was kind of clever in a silly way, similar to Indy and company jumping out of an airplane in a life raft. But the Shia/monkeys scene was abysmal. I wouldn't have been surprised if Jar Jar Binks had made a cameo at that point.

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I always think of seeing Shia LaBlunder swinging on vines through the jungle, in an entourage of monkeys, in order to take a shortcut and catch up with a truck chase... or something like that. That's totally looney toons... the low point of the whole series, IMHO.

Same here. I actually thought the fridge scene was kind of clever in a silly way, similar to Indy and company jumping out of an airplane in a life raft. But the Shia/monkeys scene was abysmal. I wouldn't have been surprised if Jar Jar Binks had made a cameo at that point.

Yeah. If the fridge scene had of been in a stand alone B-type movie that wasn't part of the Raider's franchise, and happened near the end of said movie, then I expect I would have thought it was kind of cool.

Edited by Attica

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Steven Spielberg on the storytelling in Crystal Skull (It's all George's fault), and on who's to blame for "nuking the fridge."

That preposterous scene continues to be about the only thing I can remember about Crystal Skull. Better ridiculous than dull. Indy 4 had too much of the latter.

The fridge sequence is a terribly clever gag, and by far the best thing about INDY IV.

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Steven Spielberg on the storytelling in Crystal Skull (It's all George's fault), and on who's to blame for "nuking the fridge."

That preposterous scene continues to be about the only thing I can remember about Crystal Skull. Better ridiculous than dull. Indy 4 had too much of the latter.

The fridge sequence is a terribly clever gag, and by far the best thing about INDY IV.

Word.

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I was pondering tonight about how much of a shocker it would be if Lucas comes up with a story giving us a film of comparable quality to Raiders. That would have film fans talking.

Edited by Attica

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I was pondering tonight about how much of a shocker it would be if Lucas comes up with a story giving us a film of comparable quality to Raiders. That would have film fans talking.

I'll be shocked if he's in the ballpark of Last Crusade. And I don't even think Last Crusade was that great.

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Last Crusade was amusing and fun...but yeah...not great.

It was my favorite when I was younger. I'm not sure why, in hindsight, but I think the increasing implausibility of the plot might have had something to do with it. (Templars!) I had begun to see the warts over the past decade, but man...Crystal Skull really puts things in perspective.

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I don't know, but I keep using the line "He chose...poorly" in my daily life, long after the actual details of the film have faded from my memory.

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More Spielberg on KINGDOM, and suggests that they've agreed on a direction for INDY V:

The 64-year-old filmmaker recently opened up that he and George Lucas have already agreed on the genre for the upcoming adventure film despite the fact that both of them had an argument over the use of aliens in the last "Indy" film, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull".

To Entertainment Weekly, he dished, "I'm really proud of the movie. I loved bringing Marion back. I love the fact that Indy now has a son. It's a family action film, and I love that whole conceit." He added, "It's public that George and I and Harrison [Ford] all had a clash about the genre and concept. But I've always told George's stories."

[ . . . ]

"I'll fight things I don't believe in but ultimately if George wants to bring interdimensional beings into 'Crystal Skull', I will do the best job I possible can to acquit George's idea and make him proud," so the filmmaker said.

As for the concept of "Indy 5", Spielberg claimed, "It's up to George. We have already agreed on the genre of the fifth movie, we already have a concept in mind." He added, "I don't know where George is with the story. There is no 'Indy 5' until George says there is."

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FWIW, George Lucas says he hasn't found a MacGuffin for the next film yet.

Meanwhile, Red Letter Media has posted its hour-plus video review of the film. These are the same guys who posted those famous hour-plus video reviews of the Star Wars prequels, plus some shorter reviews of the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies, so be warned: there is some fairly crude content here. But if you can get past that, there are some decent critiques here. (I hadn't considered before the fact that Indy kills far, far fewer people in this film -- only one person, in fact -- than he killed in the other three films, where his personal death toll ranges from 9 to 21. And I love the guy's point that Crystal Skull makes the mistake of thinking that we care about the CHARACTER of Indiana Jones, rather than the IDEA of the character.)

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Meanwhile, Red Letter Media has posted its hour-plus video review of the film. These are the same guys who posted those famous hour-plus video reviews of the Star Wars prequels, plus some shorter reviews of the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies, so be warned: there is some fairly crude content here. But if you can get past that, there are some decent critiques here. (I hadn't considered before the fact that Indy kills far, far fewer people in this film -- only one person, in fact -- than he killed in the other three films, where his personal death toll ranges from 9 to 21. And I love the guy's point that Crystal Skull makes the mistake of thinking that we care about the CHARACTER of Indiana Jones, rather than the IDEA of the character.)

Plinkett's reviews are starting to get old--his "serial killer" persona is beyond tiresome at this point--but yes, he makes some good points.

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Plinkett's reviews are starting to get old--his "serial killer" persona is beyond tiresome at this point--but yes, he makes some good points.

I have no understanding of a person who spends so much time and energy on something they ostensibly despise.

Anyway, from the little of watched of his "take-downs" I tend to find his points irritatingly specific, and beholden to an ideal of cinema that few films adhere to. And his critiques end up minimizing the very things that I feel make Lucas's films interesting. Fanboys are exceedingly predictable in what they want.

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Just rewatched this for the first time in, oh, two years. Observations:

 

1. I had forgotten how very candy-colored the whole thing is. I mean, it fits the Fifties aesthetic, but it's definitely a contrast to the previous movies.

 

2. I love the Nukesville sequence, including the fridge. I'm still working this bit out, but I'm pretty sure there's a thematic link between the aliens and nuclear power (as, of course, there was in real life). The scene of Indiana looking over the crater left by the alien ship and that with him silhouetted against the mushroom cloud are too similar to not be linked. And of course that terrible, terrible line "Their treasure was knowledge...knowledge was their treasure" becomes much more ominous when we think of it in relation to the way in which knowledge led to the A-bomb, the H-bomb, etc etc etc.  

 

3. I'll even defend the aliens on the grounds that, hey, it's the Fifties. Aliens are in.

 

4. I actually like Indiana's relationship with Mutt a slight bit better than his relationship with his father--mainly because I really like Old Indy (his encounter with the dean in his classroom is still a favorite moment in the movie for me). Of course, the Indy-Mutt relationship draws much of its effectiveness from the Indy-Sr. relationship in the previous film, so I'm not sure the two can really be contrasted so directly. [For that matter, Shia isn't nearly as bad here as he gets credit for being]

 

5. Worst part? Not the swinging-on-vines and not even the cgi car chase. The worst part is the killer ants sequence, which lacks all of the "ick" factor that was present in the other gross-out scenes in the series.

 

6. The ending falls apart, but I don't think it's for the reasons that often get bandied about. It isn't the aliens, and it isn't the fact that the villain's death is so cgi-ed out (though the latter is part of it). No, the real problem is that there are too many characters. Indy, Marion, and Mutt would have been fine. Indy, Oxley, and Mutt would have been fine. Any other combination of three characters would have worked. But five characters is too many and it makes the  whole thing too diffuse. 

 

7. Related: like Last Crusade, this movie mistakes one of the central pleasures of the franchise for the central pleasure. I mean, the decoding-secret-passages-and-navigating-ancient-traps bit. In Raiders and Temple, those sections weren't the climax--they were moves along the way toward the climax. Last Crusade made the whole getting-into-the-temple thing a central concern, and so does Kingdom, but that means that all the thematic heft of the Item is sapped. In Raiders and Temple the artifact has time to breathe; in Last Crusade and Kingdom it really doesn't, and that makes the whole ending feel limp.

 

8. I still maintain that Kingdom is exactly as good as two of the three previous movies. I'll still take it over The Mummy franchise, the National Treasure franchise, etc etc etc. Partly that's a sentimental thing, and I'll admit that much of my appreciation for this movie lies in the fact that Marion comes back, and that's sentimentalism, pure and simple. But there's also other factors: the Spielberg touch shouldn't be discounted, for one thing--he's got a deeply human touch that I'm not sure I see in the franchise's imitators. The idea of moving Indiana into the Atomic Age was interesting and I think it was executed fairly well. And as closure for the Indiana Jones character I think the movie works pretty well.

 

[And I just realized that this movie came out in 2008, the same year as The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, which also deals with strained parent-child dynamics]

Edited by NBooth

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Just rewatched this for the first time in, oh, two years. Observations:

1. I had forgotten how very candy-colored the whole thing is. I mean, it fits the Fifties aesthetic, but it's definitely a contrast to the previous movies.

2. I love the Nukesville sequence, including the fridge. I'm still working this bit out, but I'm pretty sure there's a thematic link between the aliens and nuclear power (as, of course, there was in real life). The scene of Indiana looking over the crater left by the alien ship and that with him silhouetted against the mushroom cloud are too similar to not be linked. And of course that terrible, terrible line "Their treasure was knowledge...knowledge was their treasure" becomes much more ominous when we think of it in relation to the way in which knowledge led to the A-bomb, the H-bomb, etc etc etc.

3. I'll even defend the aliens on the grounds that, hey, it's the Fifties. Aliens are in.

4. I actually like Indiana's relationship with Mutt a slight bit better than his relationship with his father--mainly because I really like Old Indy (his encounter with the dean in his classroom is still a favorite moment in the movie for me). Of course, the Indy-Mutt relationship draws much of its effectiveness from the Indy-Sr. relationship in the previous film, so I'm not sure the two can really be contrasted so directly. [For that matter, Shia isn't nearly as bad here as he gets credit for being]

5. Worst part? Not the swinging-on-vines and not even the cgi car chase. The worst part is the killer ants sequence, which lacks all of the "ick" factor that was present in the other gross-out scenes in the series.

6. The ending falls apart, but I don't think it's for the reasons that often get bandied about. It isn't the aliens, and it isn't the fact that the villain's death is so cgi-ed out (though the latter is part of it). No, the real problem is that there are too many characters. Indy, Marion, and Mutt would have been fine. Indy, Oxley, and Mutt would have been fine. Any other combination of three characters would have worked. But five characters is too many and it makes the whole thing too diffuse.

7. Related: like Last Crusade, this movie mistakes one of the central pleasures of the franchise for the central pleasure. I mean, the decoding-secret-passages-and-navigating-ancient-traps bit. In Raiders and Temple, those sections weren't the climax--they were moves along the way toward the climax. Last Crusade made the whole getting-into-the-temple thing a central concern, and so does Kingdom, but that means that all the thematic heft of the Item is sapped. In Raiders and Temple the artifact has time to breathe; in Last Crusade and Kingdom it really doesn't, and that makes the whole ending feel limp.

8. I still maintain that Kingdom is exactly as good as two of the three previous movies. I'll still take it over The Mummy franchise, the National Treasure franchise, etc etc etc. Partly that's a sentimental thing, and I'll admit that much of my appreciation for this movie lies in the fact that Marion comes back, and that's sentimentalism, pure and simple. But there's also other factors: the Spielberg touch shouldn't be discounted, for one thing--he's got a deeply human touch that I'm not sure I see in the franchise's imitators. The idea of moving Indiana into the Atomic Age was interesting and I think it was executed fairly well. And as closure for the Indiana Jones character I think the movie works pretty well.

[And I just realized that this movie came out in 2008, the same year as The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, which also deals with strained parent-child dynamics]

Wow. I pretty much agree with everything here.

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Thanks!

 

One more note on the H-bomb thing: Peter's posted the Milton poem that Oxley quotes, but here's the Eliot poem that he [mis]quotes:

 

Eyes that last I saw in tears
Through division
Here in death's dream kingdom
The golden vision reappears
I see the eyes but not the tears
This is my affliction
 
This is my affliction
Eyes I shall not see again
Eyes of decision
Eyes I shall not see unless
At the door of death's other kingdom
Where, as in this,
The eyes outlast a little while
A little while outlast the tears
And hold us in derision.

 

 

FWIW, according to Wikipedia, this poem first appeared alongside some stuff that would later appear in The Hollow Men, which concludes with the famous "This is the way the world ends" section--which Eliot said he wouldn't have written post-WWII for a couple of reasons:
 
One reason is that while the association of the H-bomb is irrelevant to it, it would today come to everyone's mind. Another is that he is not sure the world will end with either. People whose houses were bombed have told him they don't remember hearing anything.
 
 
--incidentally, is this the first time in the series that characters have displayed actual erudition, as opposed to made-up stuff ("I suddenly remembered my Charlemagne")? Even if Oxley is misquoting the actual Eliot poem, it's still Eliot--and minor Eliot, at that.
Edited by NBooth

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Kingdom is inferior to its predecessors purely because the action sequences are a snooze. Spielberg has conceded that he's bored by action sequences in recent interviews, and it shows. Given that the series is driven by its set pieces, this is a huge problem. The Doomtown stuff is the only material that really has that old-school-Spielberg pizzaz.

Otherwise, I agree with Nathanael's comments.

Edited by Ryan H.

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