Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Hat is Back (it's the rest of his ensemble that's missing)

Bottom line: I would rank 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' as the 2nd best 'Indiana Jones' movie - with 'Raiders' and 'Last Crusade' both being tied for first (...sorry 'Temple'!).

The highs (brief so as to avoid spoilers) :
  • Indy is back!
  • Daring escapes from wrong place/wrong timing situations & booby-trapped ruins.
  • Marion is back!
  • Disgusting man-eating bugs!
  • Plenty of action sequences.
  • Hilarious "Why does it have to be a snake?" gag.
  • Subtle nods to prior flicks of both Spielberg & Lucas.
  • Indy utters key Lucas phrase: "I've got a bad feeling about this."
  • Requisite [and featured] appearance of the 'Wilhelm Scream'
The lows:
  • Okay, so Marion is back - but she's not quite herself. Karen Allen gushes her way through the part like she's all too happy just to have been invited to the party: totally devoid of any of the grit, gutsiness, or tomboyishly sexy charm we remembered - and loved her for - in 'Raiders'.
  • Sallah is conspicuously absent and both the Marcus Brody & Henry Jones, Sr. characters are dead. Okay, well, not really a whole lot Spielberg/Lucas could do about Marcus since Denholm Elliott passed away back in 1992. But Indy sorely needed a familiar-faced foil for both the character and audience to connect with on this South American jungle adventure - a gaping hole not even fillable by the combination of Ray Winstone, John Hurt or Shia LeBeouf (who, in a pleasant surprise and contrary to yours truly's expectations, did not suck).
  • Cate Blanchett as evil Russian KGB agent and psychic, Irina Spalko, is merely window dressing in a role that could have been deliciously devilish. We're not sure what went wrong but we suspect it has something to do with the hair - as we couldn't stop thinking of Edna Mode, the 'Q' character from Disney/Pixar's 'The Incredibles' every time she appeared on-screen... not exactly the quakin'-in-your-boots evil villain vibe they were going for.
  • The storyline might alienate/disappoint some 'Christian-relic-as-MacGuffin (i.e. central-plot-device) fans. Don't say I didn't warn you.
  • Things get somewhat predictable once you catch on to the whole underlying angle of the story.
  • The ending: might have been more satisfying had we seen some real sparks fly between Indy & Marion throughout the flick. Instead, we're served up superfluous dialogue between the two that borders on sitcom/romance-novel-generic, producing a forced pairing that leaves us feeling like they're an old married couple, already sleeping in separate beds. Example:
    • Marion: "I'm sure there must've been plenty of other women over the years for you."
    • Indy: "Sure, there were other women. But they all had one thing in common - they weren't you." (Aaacckk! Gag me now!)
STILL, in spite of the lows, I can forgive almost any flaw to have Indy back on the big screen, so long as the fundamental essence of our beloved Professor/Archeologist is intact - and indeed it is. Welcome back, Dr. Jones - it's good to see you again!

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