Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Indy 4 in brief

I, like half the cinema going world, went to see Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull this weekend. Going in, I really wanted to like it, but I came out underwhelmed and disappointed. While it had moments, they were too few and too far between. I purposely didn't read a single review prior but went online after to check out what others were saying and found many of a like mind. I think AICN's Moriarty, who enjoyed the film much more than I, said it best when he wrote: There's no awe here." And that in a nutshell was the problem. I could go on and on about the preference for CGI over real stunts, the stagebound feel and look of the thing, the lack of a real story, or characters to believe in, the reams of expositional dialogue, the fact the skull seemed to lose its power when a cloth was draped over it, but I think I'll go and watch Raiders Of The Lost Ark again instead...

10 comments:

Gerard said...

I was actually really into the stagebound look of it, and in the end, I had a lot of fun. The thing about the skull and the cloth, though, was basically the first thing I mentioned at the end - like, wha? My biggest problem wasn't a lack of awe, but a lack of any real peril or threat. It was much more of an out-and-out adventure romp than the thrilling rollercoaster presented by Raiders, but in the end, I was most entertained. Having said that, I can get why lifetime fans could be letdown by this though (probably doesn't hurt I was always more of a Jurassic Park kid).

But heck, have you read the twentybillion words CHUD has devoted to slandering the film/calling anyone who enjoyed it an idiot? Yeesh.

Mark Salisbury said...

For me, the saddest thing is that I can't imagine ever wanting to see it again. Unless someone paid me. And that's from someone who knows Raiders virtually off by heart...

I really need to read the Frank Darabont script.

Gerard said...

Really? That is a terrible shame. Like I said initially, I had a blast, and could watch it repeatedly for the fun of Blanchett alone.

I'm dead keen to get my hands on a copy of that Darabont script, too...

Mark Salisbury said...

Without wanting to be too nitpicky, didn't you think that CB's Russian accent occasionally wandered into... Australian?

Gerard said...

It did once or twice (namely, whenever the script called for her to sneer "Doctor Jones"), though not nearly enough for it to distract me or take anything away from the fun of seeing her ham it up as a baddie.

Like I said earlier, though, though I've always loved Indy, it's never been my "holy grail" (so to speak) so I guess I was able to head into this without a lifetime of expectations bearing down on me. They're not the sort of films I'd ever really pick apart overmuch, though I think Kingdom is certainly the weakest of the series for a number of reasons. Still really enjoyed it though :P

Mark Salisbury said...

Even Shia swinging through the jungle?

I didn't come out of the cinema hating the film but the more I think about it, the more I cringe.

J.D. said...

I really enjoyed this film as well, particular the loving detail paid to the 1950s setting (the music, fashions, etc.) and, style-wise, it was very consistent with the first 3 films.

I think that Michael Wilmington's review really sums up my feelings on it the best:

http://www.moviecitynews.com/columnists/wilmington/2008/080522.html

Mark Salisbury said...

Yikes. What is it with everybody today?

Sorry jd but I completely disagree. Stylewise this is nothing like the previous three which were all very realistic in terms of using real locations, real stunt men, plus they had a sense of awe, of peril, of character. This felt totally unreal to me from the word go: the light (especially during the Area 51 opening) was George Lucas/CGI light, the stunts were straight out of the Star wars prequels, lacking weight and reality; the cutesy animals in the desert, the Tarzan gag... all crass Lucasims... yuck. yuck. yuck.

I believe I'm also right in thinking that the previous three began with Indy mid adventure, this starts with someone else, and Indy is simple brought along for the ride.

Plus, Indy spends the entire film HELPING the Russians. What is that all about?

As I said before, the more I think about it, the angrier I get. It was all too lazy.

Michael Smith said...

I've seen it twice, and did enjoy it a lot more second time round, thought that still isn't saying a lot, really. The thing I enjoyed more than anything was that Harrison Ford still has the magic. He IS Indiana Jones. To see him crack that whip again, and still be the same cool-as-fuck archeologist we all know and love, was (for me) worth the price of admission. However, our man was done a disservice by a hideously clunky script which felt like it had simply plundered the "best" moments from previous drafts. I am pretty darn sure that had Darabont's draft been made, as Ford and Spielberg wanted, we would have had a proper Indy film.

It also worried me that, for a plot so simple, I was lost within 20 minutes, due to an entirely waffly and turgid mathod of plot exposition. It was a perfunctary script, entirely lacking in much of the Indy magic we so expected. And yes, the swinging-though-the-trees thing was embarassing. To swing all that way and land in the car? Pleeeaaase. In previous films,we are asked to suspend out disbelief for (nearly) equally silly things, but there was a difference: in those films, Spielberg had so earned our suspension of disbelief that we were putty in his hands. Here, we are simply expected to go along with ridiculous stunts (falling down three waterfalls? This is just disrespectful to the audience!) without first having our credulity earned.

I think the idea to set it in the 1950s and have the alien plot was a great idea, actually, and refrencing 50s sci-fi B movies is a witty idea. But did we really need a fucking CGI flying saucer at the end, and completely devoid of Spielbergian wonder?

I find it hard to criticize Spielberg too much, since he was clearly making this "for the fans" and making the best of a pretty poor script, but (for instance) why was the cliff-top car fight so utterly devoid of fear? That should have been a nailbiting sequence. Instead, I could FEEL the precence of a green screen just inches behind the (barely) terrified looking faces of out "heroes" (of which there were too many; I wanted more Indy!) Furthermore, whilst I thought Shia LaBeof did a great job in the role he was given, it made me cringe to imagine him the main star of an Indy film, which was certainly the impression I got of the filmmakers' intentions *cough* Geroge Lucas *cough*.

Wow - sorry, I need to get a life! Feel better having thrown my opinion in!

Mark Salisbury said...

And very good and very valid opinions they are Michael.

I agree with you regarding the plot. Ford's dialogue seemed to consist mainly of these clunky expositional speeches and after the umpteenth conversation about returning the crystal skull I lost track of who was returning it to who and to where exactly...

It was great to see Ford in the fedora cracking the whip again. But I wanted more of that stuff. Especially accompanied by John Williams' stirring Raiders theme. I must admit I got chills at those moments...