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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

MY SUMMER VACATION IN THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

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AH, FUCK IT, LET’S GET THIS OUT IN THE OPEN: I LIKED INDIANA JONES AND THE LEGEND OF THE CRYSTAL SKULLS, AND I DON’T REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT EVERYBODY IS GRIPING ABOUT

Last July this thing happened called TRANSFORMERS. It was one of the biggest movies of that summer, but I thought it was a terrible one. My main problems were the characters, the story, the comedy, the action sequences, and (this is a first for me) especially the design of the characters. The CGI characters were so overcomplicated and indistinguishable from each other that they actually made Michael Bay’s notorious camera placement and editing beside the point, because even if it was two robots in front of a stationary camera in one continuous shot you still might not have any clue which one is which, what they’re doing or which direction they’re facing. That’s actually the biggest problem of many big problems in the movie and I’m pretty sure it’s a cinematic first – using the latest technology, Michael Bay invented a completely new way for a movie to suck. So I figured it was a bad, bad movie.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullThe internet begged to differ. As the writer of the only harshly negative TRANSFORMERS review on The Ain’t It Cool News I got my biggest and angriest talkback ever. They told me I went in expecting Hamlet or SCHINDLER’S LIST, this isn’t supposed to win Oscars (good, because it didn’t, not even for special effects) and what do I expect, it’s a big summer popcorn movie, it’s just supposed to have some explosions in parts, only some kind of snob would go in holding it to some type of standard of quality, fuck you you cocksucking faggot bitch, etc.

This was upsetting to me because actually I’m not a snob, I think you have me confused with somebody else. I’m Vern – remember, I wrote that book about Steven Seagal movies. I’m the dude who would seriously consider busting Wesley Snipes out of the joint if promised a greenlight for BLADE 4. I’m way more interested in PREDATOR than GONE WITH THE WIND. Summer popcorn movies and explosions are important to me and I couldn’t figure out why everybody had agreed on this fake story about how summer movies are supposed to suck and you have to like them no matter what and only an asshole doesn’t. I mean couldn’t you use that same argument for BATMAN AND ROBIN or LEAGUE OF THE EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN or etc.? Why aren’t you a snob for not liking those ones? Check your brain at the door, dude! Fun! Popcorn!

And more importantly, haven’t you guys seen GREAT summer movies before, some of them directed by the very individual who besmirched his name by producing TRANSFORMERS? I mean you guys know the first summer event movie was JAWS, right? And you’re telling me they’re not supposed to be good? Then why the fuck wasn’t Spielberg thrown out of Hollywood for making JAWS? You’d think he’d have to be because JAWS is fucking good!

That’s what kept spinning in my head. Number 1, how did he go from JAWS to this shit? Number 2, have we really come that far, from a great movie like that kicking off the whole concept of the big summer movie to all of society agreeing that only a huge prick would even suggest that you should go into a summer movie hoping for it to be legitimately good? Have standards for summer entertainment lowered in the thirty-some summers since JAWS? I really wanted to study this and for a long time I seriously considered ways to investigate this issue and write my next book about it.

But here we are just 3 movies into Movie Summer 2008 and we have a huge monkeywrench thrown into my argument. Because here we have Spielberg returning to summer movies as a director with INDIANA JONES AND THE ADVENTURE OF THE FORBIDDEN whatever it was. But this time it’s ME writing the positive review, and it’s the talkbackers who hate, despise, want to murder this movie. (What did they expect? Hamlet?) That’s the problem with subjectivity. Last summer I’m wondering “why have standards gotten so low?” and now I’m stuck with “Why are everyone else’s standards way higher than mine?”

Most of my circle of movie lovers I talk to really liked the movie. But on the internet it is widely agreed that it’s an outrage, so much so that nerds are trying to replace that stupid “jump the shark” phrase with a reference to one of the sequences in the movie. Recently talking to a buddy I don’t see that often I said I liked it and he said, “Really!? You’re the first person I’ve heard say that!” I was afraid to even ask if he had seen it and changed the subject.

The night I saw the movie I was able to live in a positive bubble. The crowd cheered wildly, I didn’t hear any douchebags rattling off nitpicks as I left, it was a good vibe. The next day when I checked and saw the talkbackers cutting it apart with razors, analyzing it with high powered microscopes and sending in tissue samples for lab testing it was kind of a kick in the nuts. It felt like going to your car after a Prince concert and finding out somebody jacked your stereo.

So why the fuck did I like this outrage, this affront to all that is sacred, this metaphorical crime against a fondly remembered chronologically early portion of your life history? Because I thought it was fucking good, that’s why. I mean I see some of the complaints, there were things I didn’t like, things that could’ve been stronger for sure, but no dealbreakers. What I didn’t like was far overshadowed and outnumbered by what I did. I thought it was the same enjoyable tone as the previous sequels but also taking the series to a new place just by virtue of dealing with Indy’s age (how it holds him back, how it changes his outlook on life) and with a new time period (since it is now 1957). I liked the characters, I liked the story (simple as it is), and I liked how it strung together a bunch of thrilling, expertly staged, constantly escalating action sequences.

That’s the most important one: GREAT FUCKING ACTION SEQUENCES. I know, I thought those were illegal in the 2000s, but I guess Spielberg hates cops and rules so he made this movie as a huge fuck you to the Man. He says:

I will not apologize for the steadiness of my cam. I will not be ashamed of the momentum, suspense, surprise and payoff created through a carefully planned series of moving images. Gentlemen, I want you to be able to watch this and not only understand what the fuck is going on, but be excited about it! I’m not out of order, you’re out of order! Your whole shot sequence is out of order!

You know, I’m not sure why I wrote that. I actually don’t have to make up a fictional Spielberg quote about action filmatism because I have a real one. At this point I would like to refer back to February’s Vanity Fair, in which Spielberg described his approach:

“I go for geography. I want the audience to know not only which side the good guy’s on and the bad guy’s on, but which side of the screen they’re in, and I want the audience to be able to edit as quickly as they want in a shot that I am loath to cut away from.”

and about scripts he said:

“Part of the speed is the story. If you build a fast engine, you don’t need fast cutting, because the story’s being told fluidly, and the pages are just turning very quickly. You first of all need a script that’s written in the express lane, and if it’s not, there’s nothing you can do in the editing room to make it move faster. You need room for character, you need room for relationships, for personal conflict, you need room for comedy, but that all has to happen on a moving sidewalk.”

When I first read that I think I must’ve yelled at the magazine. “Exactly! Exactly! FUCKING EXACTLY!” I couldn’t figure out why the fuck Spielberg had not printed these exact words on a giant placard and held it in front of Michael Bay’s face wherever he walked. That would’ve been earning that producer’s credit.

Now, having seen the movie that he was working on when he said those words I can say that he lives up to them. Sure, it drags a little in the middle, maybe it was not in the express lane for one section, or maybe there was an accident that caused a major backup. But otherwise he practices what he preaches. I don’t care what everybody else says, this is a good example of the kind of movie I wish there were more of in these summers.

(now I’m gonna start talking specifics. NOW ENTERING THE TEMPLE OF SPOIL.)

I love the opening of the movie, because just like TEMPLE OF DOOM’s opening it completely threw me off. I did not expect it to open with a dynamically-shot drag race scene set to an Elvis tune. As it branches off to follow communists disguised as American soldiers making a hostile entry into an air force base it actually starts to feel like some weird period piece version of an UNDER SIEGE movie. I saw one talkbacker who hated the movie explain that the movie was derailed as soon as they introduced Indiana Jones by taking him out of the trunk of their car.

I would offer that as exhibit A that certain people could never enjoy this movie no matter what. Because what kind of a fuckin nut has a problem with that? That is the perfect entrance for this movie. Somehow you expect to see him introduced as some badass, panning up from his boots, he’s got his hat and his whip and does some badass thing. You probaly shouldn’t really expect it though because in TEMPLE OF DOOM they played with this by putting him in a white suit at a night club, and in part 3 they introduced him as a boy scout. In this one they introduce him as an old man being dumped out of a trunk, all disheveled. And you get the iconic shadow, but he has to straighten out his hat. It’s fucking perfect! This is 20 years later, a head of hair grayer, he’s in a bad situation and we want to see how he gets out of it.

My colleague Moriarty read a bunch of different drafts of the script and is personal friends with the guy who wrote a draft who did not get credit and says he will never work with Lucas again. So he criticizes the script as a Frankenhooker or Leatherface’s mask type creation stitching the various scripts together. Well, okay, and I would love to see that Frank Darabont draft. But we as normal people who watch a movie when it’s completed and do not follow every stage of development are allowed to see it as it exists instead of as the unfortunate alternative to what might have been. And from that perspective I gotta admire alot of the writing. For example, in the very opening they’re told they can’t come into the base because of weapon testing. You know what that means, but then the story starts, Indy is introduced, alot happens and you forget all about it. Until Indy has escaped and wanders into a suspiciously perfect looking suburban neighborhood. Your first thought might be “I never thought I’d see Indiana Jones in a ’50s suburb” but your second will be “wait a minute, I know what this means. I’ve seen HULK. I’ve seen HILLS HAVE EYES the remake. OH SHIT INDY, GET OUT OF THERE!”

I thought this was a great moment, because for the first time you genuinely cannot figure out how the fuck Indy is gonna get out of a situation. You can outrun a boulder but I don’t know about this one. His solution is completely desperate as it should be. Yes, he survives a ridiculous scenario. But he does it Indy style. I must formally object to this idea that we all agree that scene sucks. Maybe “nuke the fridge” should mean “scene in a movie that you are surprised to find out nerds hate for some reason.” For example the Wachowskis nuked the fridge when they had people dancing before war in THE MATRIX RELOADED. I thought it was the perfect thing for dirty, sweaty, horny humanity in a big cave to do right before their last stand against emotionless, squid-like killer machines. But it turned out it was the worst thing ever, at least until surviving a nuclear bomb test.

I’m all for the bomb test. It’s 1957, you gotta get a bomb test in there. When I heard they were making a new INDIANA JONES I figured it had to take place in the ’50s, and I wasn’t sure if that could work. I associate that dude so much with Nazis and World War II. But it turns out that working in all kinds of ’50s themes was one of the things that made the movie so fun: the hot rods, the Elvis song, communist villains, greasers, McCarthyism, rumble at the malt shop, Area 51, flying saucers. It turns out to all fit so naturally. The outside world is slowly changing but it doesn’t really matter because the outside world is only Indy’s day job. His adventures take place in ancient temples, tombs and hidden chambers that would look the same in 1957, 1942 or 1236.

The other aspect I was concerned about from the advertsing was the character Mutt Williams, played by Shia LeBeouf (star of TRANSFORMERS). I didn’t see why Indy needed another sidekick. And if he did why can’t it be a guy he already knows at the beginning of the movie, like Short Round. When they introduced him on a motorcycle dressed like Marlon Brando in THE WILD ONE I was worried. Why couldn’t they have cast a young guy who’s more badass, like James Franco or somebody? But as soon as he dipped his comb in that guy’s drink he won me over. I think he’s a funny character with his bluster, his hair combing obsession, the way he mentions his fencing training and you know what that means. Shia does a good job of making his character funny and his stunt doubles do a good job giving him a little Jackie Chan physical humor and Errol Flynn grace.

The one universal complaint about the movie I can understand is the little Tarzan moment. Mutt gets stuck in a tree surrounded by monkeys, he notices how they’re swinging on vines so he copies them and they follow him. And the vine swinging is not shot to look realistic, but phony like those old Tarzan movies. I do agree that this pushes things a little bit farther than the other sequels do. At first I thought “what the fuck are they doing?” But I cannot lie. Like the universally hated dance sequence in SPIDER-MAN 3 I was kind of charmed by the sheer goofy audacity of it. The payoff of Cate Blanchett trying to continue driving at high speeds along the edge of a cliff while covered in a pile of monkeys won me over. So I like the Tarzan scene more than I like little Short Round beating up a bunch of adults in TEMPLE OF DOOM. It’s a finer vintage of ridiculous. But I don’t blame you for being haunted by it in your sleep.

That whole chase section is probaly my favorite part of the movie. One complaint I’ve seen is that it’s too much effects, it’s not organic like the truck chase in RAIDERS. Okay, I agree, organic is definitely better. But RAIDERS is a little more real and less jokey and cartoonish than any of the sequels. If I had read somewhere that Spielberg planned to ignore twenty-however-many years of history and make a sequel more like the first one then maybe I would’ve been disappointed, but I never got that misleading memo. This is a chase in the tradition of the speeder bike chase in RETURN OF THE JEDI (a movie that has a way worse Tarzan reference, by the way) and the mine cart chase in TEMPLE OF DOOM. Yes, it is over-the-top, yes it involves alot of special effects to make it happen, but the way it’s constructed for me is completely thrilling.

And speaking of effects, I just cannot handle this whining about there being CGI in the movie. You got a better way to depict a swarm of ants devouring a guy? I don’t think puppets are gonna work. They probaly tried little people in costumes crawling all over a rubber head the size of a house but decided the talkbackers would say it looked too fake. Why would there be a rule that the new one cannot use technology not invented yet when the other ones were made? Since the beginning these movies have tried to push the technology of special effects, and in this one it seemed to me like they actually held back with the digital. (I even thought they had intentionally made the backgrounds on the jeep sword duel scene look like old fashioned blue screens, but I’m not sure. I’ve since heard that was supposed to be done for real but couldn’t be because of the combined forces of a hurricane and a set-in-stone release date.)

Okay, so it was weird to have a CGI prairie dog right at the beginning of the movie, but I’m not gonna throw a movie out on the basis of 5 or 10 seconds of prairie dog.

The big question to me I guess is why this is such an enjoyable movie to me and not to so many others. I mean, I think everybody is wrong about HULK but I can’t be completely surprised because part of what I like about it is the ballsiness of Ang Lee making half Hulk kicking ass movie, half serious drama. This isn’t like that, this seems to me like a really well made if fluffy version of a mainstream crowdpleaser kind of movie. But the pitchforks and torches are out. I don’t quite get it.

I’ve asked around about this and the answer I usually got was “expectations.” Most people could go into TRANSFORMERS with no expectations and when they were given a load of moronic horse shit they just though, “well, I guess that’s what TRANSFORMERS is supposed to be.” But with INDIANA JONES everybody has memories of those movies, everybody wants a certain thing out of them, wants this one to be perfect, or doesn’t want this one to exist unless it can be magically transported to their childhood and they can remember it fondly while polishing the vintage CRYSTAL SKULL Burger King glasses they got on ebay.

I think it’s a good theory, and I can definitely picture this one being more appreciated when it becomes old (just like TEMPLE OF DOOM was). I guess those expectations are a bitch. I get it with the STAR WARS prequels. I get a kick out of those personally but they are way more objectively “bad” than this one is, and more importantly they’re a very different type of movie than the originals. The whole look, scope and technology used in making them is so different, so it’s easy to understand loving the one trilogy and hating the other. With this one I can’t see it though, it’s so much a natural extension of the other ones, another similar adventure in a similar tone but with some twists and angles based on the character’s age and the time period it takes place. Another Indiana Jones adventure. If the guys in talkback hate the duck going down the waterfalls, how do they feel about the raft falling out of the airplane in TEMPLE OF DOOM? It seems to me like a selective enforcement of realism standards.

Anyway, if that is the answer then that’s fine, that would make it a phenomenon specific to INDIANA JONES, a series I think is great but that has never had the religious significance to me that it seems to have to many people. I never got a costume and learned to use a real bullwhip, like the dude who kept going to the front of the Cinerama before the midnight show. I guess George Lucas was right in that interview that pissed everybody off where he said that no matter what the fans would hate the movie because they already have it written in their heads and unless it matches that exactly they will say that it molested them.

But I have this other theory that’s way more depressing to me. It came about when I read some of Chud’s “Tag Team Indiana Jones Post-Mortem.” Those guys all separately reviewed the movie, hated it, then later came back as a combined force to continue reviewing it and continue hating it. I don’t mean to imply that their opinions aren’t valid, but alot of it reads as the kind of joyless, humorless, nitpicky criticism that makes it seem like the writers don’t even like watching movies anymore. It’s the curse of a movie series being this beloved I guess. You saw RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK as a kid, you had no idea what it was and it knocked you on your ass. Now you’re all grown up and full of opinions and you followed this movie through every stage of development and rumored development and had an opinion on every plot point before you sat down to watch it. You go in already knowing everything about the movie and come out outraged that it didn’t rekindle your childlike sense of wonder.

Anyway, Nick Nunziata (producer of GRIZZLY PARK) wrote:

“These are not the premier craftsmen of rewarding and honest mainstream entertainment anymore. That mantle has been passed on to men with last names like Raimi, Jackson, del Toro, and Nolan. Steven Spielberg has made some extraordinary dramas since his heyday as the master of the summer movie, but he’s really wasting his time in this kind of fare. Although they set the standard in many regards, it may just be that this kind of material works a lot better when the participants have something still to prove.”

(Kind of weird that he put Raimi in there. I mean, I’m the guy who didn’t think SPIDER-MAN 3 was that bad. I still love the guy but if you gotta match up “past his heyday, worked better when he had something still to prove” with either Spielberg or Raimi, I’m gonna choose Raimi.)

See, I gotta disagree because I feel like Spielberg is showing these other guys how it’s done. Yes, I like all of those directors listed, but they aren’t making the same flavor of “rewarding and honest mainstream entertainment” that Spielberg is doing here. Raimi did the SPIDER-MAN movies, but I don’t think they’re any better than this, and all nerds have now disowned him because of part 3. Jackson – do you expect to see summer fun time movies out of this guy ever again? I thought you guys all hated KING KONG. Del Toro is a genius, no doubt about it, but HELLBOY is not as good as this, BLADE 2 seems like a one-off and the other stuff is not mainstream entertainment.

And I’m really glad he mentioned Nolan. He has so far released one “mainstream entertainment,” BATMAN BEGINS, I don’t think he’s ready to take the torch yet. BATMAN BEGINS is great, but its flaws are the same flaws as most other “honest mainstream entertainment” and also the exact things that Spielberg excels at and has brought back to the big screen with CRYSTAL SKULL. BATMAN BEGINS is a movie about a character whose quest in life is all about fighting and swinging around, and yet rarely has a compelling scene about those things. He outrages a clan of ninjas in a burning temple on top of a mountain, but instead of a classic fight and escape scene he slides down a mountain. He gets in multiple fights and instead of choreography we get shakycam. Then at the end there’s a big action climax on a CGI monorail – I’ve seen it several times but don’t remember much about it. Every time I read people excitedly saying that Nolan is great because he doesn’t have a second unit director on DARK KNIGHT I think “No! You don’t understand! You NEED a second unit director!”

(in defense of his action skills, the Batmobile chase scene is really good.)

To me BATMAN BEGINS is miraculous because it’s a super hero movie that is great because of the characterization, the drama, and the approach to realism, despite having kind of a stupid looking costume and lackluster action set pieces. I agree, that makes Nolan very respectable, and you could definitely argue that those are more important things to be good at. But as a fan of these “summer popcorn movies” that everybody has such low expectations for, and of action movies in particular, I have been pushing for a resurrection of the art of the exciting action set piece. Some of the movies by those directors named do have those (the Spider-man’s have some pretty good ones, and of course BLADE 2 has some classic fight scenes) but for the most part in modern movies they’re few and far between. If BATMAN BEGINS had action scenes as exciting as the ones in CRYSTAL SKULL (in a realistic tone that fit the movie) it would be up there with T2 and what not as one of the all time classics.

CRYSTAL SKULL brings back that geography (which side of the screen is he standing on?), it brings back the thrill of the chase, the love of inventive action beats (who cares if it’s cartoonish, how could you hate Marion driving off the cliff, onto the tree, the tree cushioning their fall and then catapulting back up to knock the climbing communists off of the cliff?). It’s a return to the art of speed, thrills and excitement that have a rhythm and build to them so that you are excited to get to the climax of the scene and not just exhausted. And when it gets to the end of the movie it feels like it has gotten to the end, it doesn’t feel like it’s been the same pitch from beginning to end (see Sommers, Stephen).

So what that quote from Mr. Nunziata makes me worry is that maybe he’s right – maybe Spielberg making these kind of movies is obsolete, but not because he’s lost his touch – because people don’t want to see these kinds of movies anymore, not even grown adults who write about movies for a living. From what I can see, Nunziata didn’t review TRANSFORMERS, but the other two in the post-mortem (both intelligent individuals) gave it higher ratings and way more positive write-ups than CRYSTAL SKULL. And they might even like it better in retrospect, because Devin Faraci recently referred to it as “really good.” And I still can’t figure it out, but he’s definitely in the majority on that one.

Oh shit. This is the I AM LEGEND ending. This is where I realize that I was the vampire all along. Maybe the Shakycamites are the new civilization, and I have no right or hope fighting it. Maybe the type of movies I like, the type that Spielberg describes in those quotes, are something quaint that only people like me want to see. Eventually “good action” will be a nostalgic novelty niche like “Grindhouse.” Somebody will put a bunch of money into a really kickass action movie some day and it will flop and the genre will be dead forever. And directors who dare to hold a shot for longer than 2 seconds will be beaten and hung.

Well, hopefully not. I would like if they at least have access to lawyers. We’ll see what happens.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, June 9th, 2008 at 8:10 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

85 Responses to “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”

  1. Very nice review and some very nice points. I liked the film overall and am pretty sick of defending it. The film was far from perfect, though – Karen Allen was surprisingly bad in it, John Hurt was wasted and his character was a pain in the ass and the waterfall scene was not good: the gang had become indestructable at that point.

    Having said that, the period detail was fun, Shia TheBeef was pretty charismatic and Ford was on good form. The ants were great!

    I enjoyed your review. Thanks for not making me feel crazy!

  2. Spot on review.

    I was also genuinely surprised by the venom this film generated. For years, I watched as the previous sequels were torn apart online, so it was funny to see them suddenly regarded as perfect creations. (Honestly, can you imagine if Temple of Doom had been released in 2008 instead?)

    Kingdom of the Crystal Skull works extremely well at imitating the style of a fifties B movie. I’m not just referring to the handful of references to the period, but to the overall style and pacing. Even the wedding finale is entirely appropriate, given the era.

    Unfortunately, all of this was probably lost on the average fanboy in 2008. As Moriarty wrote in his own review, today’s audiences have no real taste for pulp. We could likely say the same for a more innocent era like the fifties. Instead, current tastes seem geared towards realism, preferably coupled with a very dark tone.

    As one critic noted of The Dark Knight, it was good but “nobody’s idea of fun”. When you consider the way that film was welcomed like a sacred calf, perhaps it’s no surprise that escapist fare like Crystal Skull left many fanboys more than a little cold.

  3. I feel sad that you wrote this long and passionate entry, because in the end Indiana Jones 4 still sucked. It is so indefensible on many levels that I’m just TIRED of going into it. The movie was a waste, and that is a FACT. I call it, irresponsible film making.

  4. Look bud, if you’re going to go around maintaining that your opinion is FACT, “I’m tired of explaining why” just ain’t gonna cut it. There are things about it that don’t work all that well, particularly at a narrative level, but at worst it’s mediocre. No where near the bottom of post- millennial action movies, anyway; and a few sequences probably deserve to be nearer to the top.

  5. Ah, Mr. S! I was genuinely hoping you’d have a theory that would make KOTCS look even semi-competent, as your fantastic “Jedi aren’t all good” theory on the prequels has created more goodwill for that trilogy than Lucas himself could create (for me at least). Because seriously, I HATED KOTCS. Hated it. I actually didn’t mind the nuked fridge, the tarzan swinging, and I actually forgot about the CGI Prairie Dog till now. Those aren’t the problems. The problems are (and I think everyone’s heard these before too, so I can see where Lee is coming from): 1) awful plot – too many dead-ends and red herrings. What was the communist witchhunt angle about? What was the point of that middle section? I seriously lost track of how many skulls there were, where they came from, and what powers they had (i guess whatever the script required from scene to scene). 2) I like how Raiders had one sidekick in action (Allen), Temple had two (Short Round and Willie), Crusade had three (Sallah, Marcus, Dad). Now Indy gets FOUR! Four sidekicks!!! WTF? (Someone made this joke: Pitch to John Hurt: “You’re gonna have the shakes and talk gibberish THE WHOLE MOVIE”. John Hurt: “Sold!”). Mac may have been one of the worst-written characters in recent memory, no joke. He switched sides alot. That’s his ENTIRE character, nothing else. Think of Gloria Reuben in Timecop. Same character, same plot function, same arc, but with an actual character behind it. 3)Awful villain. There’s nothing intriguing about Spalko, other than she’s a woman. I’m not saying they needed to T3-her or make Blanchett wear tight leather or some shit (though that’d be nice) -but can you imagine if Spalko was a man? We’d all be saying what a bland, useless villain he was. Belloq was smooth like a classy Bond villain, Mola Ram was scary as hell. I can’t tell you jack about Spalko. 4) Everyone who said Indy did nothing at the end was right- the same outcome would have happened if he wasn’t there. All he did was run away sorta fast. I have no idea where the aliens went (so was it outer space or another dimension like they said?), why they left, or why they torched Spalko (was it b/c they sensed she was bad or b/c her head over-filled w/ knowledge?). The whole movie felt slapdash and stitched together. Say what you want about Mummy 3 (yeah, i’ll go there), but the father-son relationship and the rediscovered-romance angle were way better done there. I regret I had to say that too, but that’s what I feel. I will give credit where its due though – the action sequences are above average and I did love the final hat-gag, but other than that, it hurts me to say this movie deserves the hate.

  6. neal2zod — hey man, I’d love to argue with you, but I can’t, cuz everything you say is true. As I said in my response above, the film is burdened with an awful narrative structure and weighted down with unnecessary and underdeveloped characters. I think the script itself feels at best like a confusing Frankenstein’s monster of other scripts. The only explaination I can think of is each script iteration kept the characters from the last, even as their place in the story was written out. Yup, all those characters are pointless, the villains are lame ducks, and most damningly, Indy does nothing to advance the story. For the record, I’ll add my own complaints, just so you don’t think I’m trying to be the cool kid in town: I also felt that this time around the locations, always a selling point, lacked character and variety. The story felt like a series of vignettes with only the thinnest connecting tissue between them, and even though poor Harrison is obviously trying his hardest, the script itself seems confused as to what, exactly, his character arc is [let alone any of the other characters]).

    That having been said, I think what Vern and I both see as a redeeming factor of KOTCS is its action sequences, especially, of course, the long, long one that starts with the chase in the jungle and end with the waterfall ride. I was about half-engaged up till that point, waiting for the thing to take off — but I consider that sequence one of the few moments in the film where Speilberg suddenly totally engages and really goes for it. Its a perfect example of the “Classic” movie action scene blocking and editing which Vern (and I) feel is kind of a lost art, and can be incredibly exciting when done right (as I think it is, here). It’s possible that by that point, most viewers had given up on the thing and it just wasn’t enough to get them back. I dont quite buy Vern’s argument that people simply don’t respond to action sequences like this anymore; I think if the rest of the movie was better that would have been the crowning jewel and everyone would have been singing the movie’s praise.

    I should note, I saw it looong after everyone else did, and had been told that it was a “Back ally abortion of a movie” by a trusted friend. So I was prepared for what was bad, and pleasantly surprised by what was good. Which is, if you look above, the same way Vern approached the thing. We were dreading the Fridge scene, the prarie dogs, the LeBouf. When that failed to deliver anything really jaw-droppingly awful, we said, “Hey, this thing isn’t quite the travesty that was described to us! Rather than lurching in the gutter, it just isn’t all that good… and, at a select few points, it IS genuinely great”.

    I think its hard if not impossible to argue that its not the worst of the series. But between the few things that REALLY work, the majority of it is pretty inoffensive, with a good effort from most actors, even if the thing always seems awkward and unwieldy and at the end drops all the balls it has been fumbling throughout. So yeah, I guess what I’m saying is that I completely agree with you, its just that the things that ruined it for you weren’t dealbreakers for me, so I could better enjoy the things it does get pretty damn right. And a lot of that probably has to do with my admittedly lowered expectations. Still, I think that given the range of terrible movies that come down the pipeline, it got more viritol than it deserved, more because of its pedigree than because it was actually worse than them (I think it significantly better than many movies of its ilk, although still notably inferior to the greatest among them).

    Hey, I calls ’em like I see em. But I can certainly understand why even someone who is able to be a grown up about the idea that in a MOVIE ABOUT MAGIC ALIEN SKULLS someone could survive a nuclear blast in a fridge would also find that movie lacking in terms of narrative coherence. And perhaps, so much so to the point where it can’t really be enjoyed. So sorry, bro. But hey, they’re making another one, so maybe if we’re lucky the next script will make it through the death star trench with a little less missing…

  7. Mr. S strikes again! Seriously, you and Vern together have probably written the most well-spoken, coherent defense of this film out there. Lucas and Spielberg pretty much owe both of you guys a steak dinner after this, as (just like your prequel defense), I don’t think they could come up with anything better. It’s interesting you bring up the time frame when you saw it – I did happen to see a sneak preview of KOTCS one or two days before it came out, before “nuked the fridge”, gophers, etc.. was web-nerd lexicon, and you’re right – my opinion probably was affected by the fact that I knew NOTHING about it before it came out – no advance word on whether it was good or bad. And now i think about it – the other “bad” movies that I like (too many to count, but notably LXG, Waterworld, Hudson Hawk, and Batman & Robin) were all seen later, post-bad word of mouth. Hence the “they’re not so bad” factor. And most of the “man that was TERRIBLE” movies I saw (Matrix sequels, Van Helsing) were seen opening night, when i thought they had a chance to be good. Now I’m going to rack my brain to see if there’s a universally trashed movie I saw later where I thought “man, that WAS as bad as I heard it was”…

  8. For me, as long as ‘Temple of Doom’ exists, ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ is far from the worst Indiana Jones film.

    Ala ‘Star Wars’ methinks there’s an awful lot of nostalgia involved with nerds, I mean fans expectations of these new ones. That and Lucas never came to them to adapt their fan fic they wrote years ago and is “totally awesome!”

    Just recently I watched all the ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Indiana Jones’ films straight-though in chronological order. I never defined my childhood or life by these films so I guess maybe I’m unqualified to talk about them. But goddamn. Are there really people who will insist ‘Return of the Jedi’ and ‘Temple of Doom’ are good much less great?

    As much ‘Lucas (and Spielberg) is a hack’ and/or ‘They lost it!’ or ‘Star Wars trilogy, Indiana Jones trilogy, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ET, Jurassic Park, Poltergeist, Color Purple, Schindler’s List, THX, American Graffiti were all flukes! They are really untalented hacks and is proof of this!’
    that is thrown around I find it hilarious that they are all more than willing to or completely oblivious to the flaws in the films they made during their childhoods.

    Anyways watching them again I had a grand time. Except for with Star Wars I ended it on ‘Jedi’ a lazy rehash of the original (Episode IV) with a whole lot of groan-inducing moments and Ewoks. It’s not a total failure as the scenes with just Luke or on the Death Star are great but everything else, in my opinion, is a complete failure. It also managed to make Han Solo incredibly lame so that’s an accomplishment right there.
    Then I followed it up with ‘Temple of Doom’ and I was already rethinking this whole watching them all the way through in order thing.
    I can honestly not conjure up a single positive thing about it except the hollow ‘Well… the action was nice… mostly… some of it… at the dead end…” The movies relentless assault of unfunny comedy, annoying and completely useless sidekicks, and a lame story. Add a giant pissing robot to the mix and you realize how Spielbergdian ‘Transformers’ I & II really are when you think of it.

    Yet there are those, who conveniently saw these films when they were young and ‘changed them’ will insist to me that they are both great and that I’m a closeted homosexual, and stupid.

    I’ll admit I warmed up to ‘Jedi’ over the years, it’s very good pacing helps a lot, and feel that the good parts are great and make up for the fact that the whole is shit and is a major disappointment for a six-film series I up-till-now really enjoyed.

    ‘Temple’ I have yet to warm up to. In fact that movie gets worse each time I view and it’s too the point where I can’t sit through it anymore.

    ‘Skulls’ on the other hand, I loved when I saw it in theaters and loved it just as much watching again just last week. I’m thoroughly sure that if this film came out when the nerds/fans were kids they’d hold it in just as high regard as the others.

    I’m not nearly as good a writer as Mr. Subtlety is and like in the ‘Public Enemies’ talkback with ‘The Dark Knight’ the most I can give is a cheap ‘Well… I liked it…” Unlike with ‘Star Wars’ there’s nothing under the surface here to go into. It wants to entertain in an old fashioned way and I was entertained, so for me it was mission accomplished.

    -by-the-way neal2zod. LXG is fucking hilarious. It seems you and me agree on so awful they’re great films ala Batman& Robin. Not so much on your terrible film list (okay you got a point with Van Helsing but even then I don’t hate it, unfortunately I’m one of those assholes who defends the Matrix sequels… well Reloaded not so much Revolutions). As with your Ultimate Warrior comment I’d like to share another video with you, don’t know if you saw it. But since we agree on the awesomely badness of LXG I think you may enjoy this:
    http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/118307

  9. When people talk about Indy 4 being ‘inept’ I’m not sure they know what that means exactly. If nothing else ‘Skull’ has nice production values and is solidly made. If you want to see ineptitude in filmmaking go see “Wolverine” where the main characters sole fucking power is to have sharp things come out of his knuckles and they couldn’t even make it look like they were fucking attached to him. THAT’S ineptitude.

  10. I didn’t dislike the movie because the positioning of Indy’s hat is blasphamous when put into context with the positioning of his hat in the sixteenth minute of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or whatever. I didn’t even mind the “nuke the fridge” scene at all, and the “Tarzan” bit wasn’t a deal breaker. I guess Shia LaBeouf was fine in it. I don’t think he’s anywhere near interesting or charasmatic enough to be an A-list movie star, but I guess Spielberg and millions of teenage girls disagree with me, and as far as these kind of guys go he’s not bad. I just found the movie shockingly dull, unexciting and just plain unengaging. And yes, I sincerely believe Return of the Jedi and Temple of Doom are better, and I don’t even like Star Wars, nor did I watch either of these films all the way through in my childhood. I can’t honestly think of any moment in either Last Crusade or Crystal Skull which is anywhere near as memorable as the first twenty or so minutes of Doom, or the infamous heart ripping scene, or the mine cart chase, or the bridge scene at the end. I know these scenes are all absurd, but they’re also extremely entertaining.

  11. I still think that “Temple” is – and I know that it’s a controversy opinion – the best Indiana Jones movie. Yes, the sidekicks are annoying, but it doesn’t take itself as deadly serious as “Raiders” did, but also isn’t an afternoon Father/Son Sitcom like “Crusade”. To me it’s THE perfect mix between fun and suspenseful horror moments. I think this quote by Joseph Kahn sums it up:

    “Temple of Doom is horror, action, slapstick, screwball, and a musical. If you hate it, MOVIES are really not the love of your life.”

    I have to watch “Crystal Skull” again, because I only saw it once so far, but I remember that I was very entertained by it and 100% agreed with everything that Vern said about it. To me is “Nuked The Fridge” a synonym of how modern audiences are willing to rip good movies apart with the most absurd explainations, just for the sake of bitching.

  12. Geoffrey – that LXG video actually made me want to watch the whole movie again. I do think it’s got its share of WTF awfulness, especially near the end (some of it borders on incoherent) but I do geniunely like it, and (i know this is blasphemy), it’s easily superior to the graphic novel. Seriously, read it if you haven’t to see what i mean – it’s over-rated and half-baked – it just stops at its premise like a TV pilot, while the movie actually gives us a story. Plus the addition of Dorian Gray (i couldn’t believe he wasn’t in the book!) was genius, and organic to the concept. (Tom Sawyer? not so much) And seriously, why was everyone bitching that Mina was a vampire in the movie and not in the book? Can you imagine if they kept her power-less? Everyone would have pointed out how useless she was and how she didn’t do anything.

    Anyways – count me amongst the Temple of Doom apologists – it’s my favorite of the Jones’ too. Comparing it to Raiders is apples and oranges, like comparing Casino Royale to your favorite Moore-era Bond (c’mon guys, you know you like at least ONE of them). I can see why people hated Willie, but (and this is totally sexist) I think it’s actually refreshing now to see a female heroine play the helpless damsel-in-distress role. She’s no Marion circa Raiders, but I’ll take Willie over some pouty Maxim-style Megan Fox shit or some Beckinsale/Jovovich “badass’ anyday.

    Like Joseph Kahn, i’m Asian and grew up in the 80s as well, so I probably do have a soft spot for Doom b/c of Short Round. I think he’s still Indy’s best sidekick, and even though I know Vern hates the fact that he kicks adult ass, I love that the movie doesn’t treat him like a kid. He even gets a torture scene alongside Indy Shane Black-style!! I think a cameo by Ke Huy Quan during the wedding scene of KOTCS would have been great.

    Oh, and re: me racking my brain for any “yeah, that movie really was as bad as they said it was” – I finally came up with AVPR, Godzilla, Catwoman, and Pirates 3. I don’t think any circumstance would have made me enjoy those movies.

  13. neal2zod, I’m 100%with you on LXG! While the graphic novel was seriously nothing else than lots of splatter with some clever literature quotes, the movie was a wonderful callback to all these fantasy adventure movies from the 80’s, that I loved so much as a kid! It’s not as good as any Indiana Jones movie, but not necessarily worse or more flawed than…let’s say Monster Squad.

  14. LXG sucks guys, come on. It doesn’t deserve to be mentioned against Indy or Star Wars, but against shit like The Phantom or The Shadow: shitty movies with a couple cool designs and scenes that’ll entertain ten year olds enough that they’ll defend it on forums like this when they get older, only to revisit it and realize just how much nostalgia can impact the quality of movies in our minds.

  15. “The only to stop shit from blowing up… is to blow more shit up!”
    Has been engraved into my everyday talking.

    -skip over this part to avoid rant about Hollywood white-washing casting
    Well I’m going to have to agree to disagree with you guys on ‘Temple’. As for the Shortround defence. I wont argue with that and I’ll fully agree he should have been at the wedding at the end of ‘Kingdom” Thanks to the casting for ‘The Last Airbender” I’m thoroughly convinced today they would have cast him white with Haley Joel Osmond or some shit and still insist he’s Asian. We sure have come along way since Bruce Lee was turned down for ‘Kung Fu’ because the producer ‘Couldn’t understand a thing he said’. Oh wait I forgot I’m being too hard on the producers and a butthurt fan because there is plenty of parts for Asians in ‘Last Airbender’… it’s just as extras and bad guys.
    -resume

    Guess I’m odd man out because along with really liking ‘Kingdom’ I actually really liked ‘Last Crusade’. Hypocritically of me: yes that one gets a bit too jokey here and there but I really liked it and felt it meshed better with ‘Raiders’ (or rather it was more what I wanted out of an Indy film).

    Brendon
    But I liked ‘The Shadow’ and ‘The Phantom’…
    I liked their old fashioned faux-pulp thrills.
    Yeah ‘The Shadow’ is a terrible adaptation of the original pulp novels though. But I’m sucker for Mulcahy’s camera trickery and always get a kick out of Baldwin’s & Lone’s banter in that dinner scene.
    As for ‘The Phantom’ I just enjoy the hell out of it and feel it was everything ‘Sky Captain’ wanted/thought it was.
    As for nostalgia factoring into my enjoyment of them, actually I’m the opposite with those two. I didn’t like them at all when I saw them in the theater, it wasn’t until I re-watched them again last year that I warmed up to their cheesy old fashioned charms.

    -now back to LXG
    LXG is great on the whole “They spent how much on this and actually thought it was a good idea?” Also I loved the story about how Connery got sucked into it. The story goes is that he turned down roles in “The Matrix” & “Lord of the Rings” trilogies because he ‘didn’t understand’ that fantasy shit. Naturally both went on to shit money, and followings, so when another one of these fantasy pictures comes his way he wasn’t going to pass it up (and make sure he gets a producer spot for more money). Unfortunately for him that fantasy project was LXG. Unfortunately for Connery fans he retired after LXG.

    LXG is very much like ‘Wild Wild West’ in that they took a fun and interesting concept and thanks to mindless studio suits mangaed to make them into the stupiest movies imaginable. The only difference between the two is that “Wild Wild West’ has zero enjoyment factor for me other than the whole ‘how did this go so wrong?’ studying I do on that thing from time to time.

    I agree with you guys that the comic book LXG is based on is not great. Yet another piece of pretentiousness from Alan Moore. Witch is more about Moore bragging how much more literate he is than you than it is about telling a story. Take Moore’s name off the comics and see how many people would still laud it as a masterwork.

    That said I do side with Moore on his anti-movie stance due to how they fucked him with LXG. Apparently these two guys wrote a script that had a similar concept (literary figures team up to form a super hero team). Well for reasons that are fuzzy to me they didn’t want to pay those guys or they figured out it would be cheaper (and more market friendly) to use Moore’s comic instead (Don Murphy may have already had the rights actually, his prior film was a bastardized adaptation of Moore’s ‘From Hell’). So they went and made LXG and the two writer guys sued Murphy & Fox & Moore. Moore is a smart & cynical man so it didn’t take him long to figure out they used him and his work to fuck these two guys.

    That was just getting the film off the ground that doesn’t even get into how bad they fucked Stephen Norrington while they were making that abomination and in post-production where they pretty barred him from the editing room.

    That’s one reason why I think LXG is more entertaining for me than ‘Wild Wild West’. On the ‘West’ commentary Sonnenfeld (the movie’s author) is convinced he made a hilarious awesome movie while Norrington disowned LXG and the only on the commentary are Murphy and other Fox suites (the money who “know” what the audience want) who are convinced they made a great awesome film.

    I may not legitimately like LXG like neal2zod& CJ but it entertains me greatly in it’s complete ineptness.
    -still sucks though that it’s Connery’s last film and destroyed Norrington’s career

  16. I also enjoyed Indy 4. Yes, it has flaws, but they are the same ones that can be found in the previous sequels. This series has always been known for silly plots, broad comedy, and thin character development.

    It’s an interesting film in that- much like Indy himself- it’s a product of another era. Spielberg wanted to make it just like the other sequels, and I feel that he accomplished that goal. However, this meant endowing it with the same flaws- but without the buffer zone of nostalgia to diminish them. It’s an approach that few filmmakers would attempt in this day and age.

    Imagine if Christopher Nolan had attempted to make The Dark Knight like Batman `89 or Batman Forever. Those were both extremely popular films upon release, but they would not have worked with 2008 audiences.

    Indy 4 may seem polarizing today, but it’s an effect that will certainly fade in time. After all, future generations will not be as likely to think “magic skulls” are silly while “magic stones” are not. Instead, they will judge the series as a whole, rather than cherrypicking the fond memories of childhood.

  17. Eh, I’m not entirely sure that nostaligia is the only difference between the old Indys and Indy IV. The others all felt, to me, anyway, like they had a much more well-conceived plot, and even though they are all thin on character developement, previous installments at least seemed to know what they wanted to do with the characters they did have. The script feels to me a lot like the end of a long series of rewrites, where things which originally had a point ended up being preserved, while that point was removed. Many characters just do one minor thing in one scene, and then are just sort of … there… the rest of the time.

    I got the same feeling from “The Lost World” (dont know anything about the script so I dont know if it was rewritten or not) but that does serve as some precedent for Spielberg just taking a very rough and unpolished script and saying, “what the hell, let’s shoot the damn thing.” And, like Indy IV, it seems like he’s completely disinterested half the time, while at other times directing at the peak of his powers.

    And for the record, I DO like “Doom” (sorry, fans, but it just has too many classic scenes for me to ignore.. while Willie may be incredibly annoying, I do think Short Round is legit… and at least both characters seem to organically fit into the story). LxG… well, its been awhile, but I remember that being damn near unwatchable. But maybe I’ll give it another go now when I’m in a more charitable mood.

    A few movies I’ve thought looked good, heard were horrible, then watched, and then agreed that yes, they were just as bad as everyone said: Transfomers, Van Helsing, Planet of the Apes (remake), A Sound of Thunder, Resident Evil (all).

  18. By nostalgia, I also mean that those films are products of their time. It’s not just childhood memories that allows us to overlook their flaws, but the fact that we only compare them to other 1980s films. (For example, few fanboys today would pick The Last Crusade over The Dark Knight, but some might be willing to choose it over Batman `89.)

    Even so, the Thuggee plot is easily the weakest in the series. They’ve got children digging for some rocks and IF they find them, they’re going to somehow…defeat all the religious gods. Let’s just forget the fact that they aren’t prepared to deal with British rifles. Colonel Spalko at least has the might of a world superpower to back up her threat.

    The Russian plot for the skull may have been thin, but it WAS clearly outlined via Spalko’s speech. As with Hitler’s interest in the Ark, they think it’s going to give them a supernatural edge in the Cold War. The brief speech rather cleverly ties the MacGuffin in with the Red Scare of the period. The obvious problem with all of this is that few in today’s generation have a way of placing this in context. We realize Nazis are bad, but Russians aren’t really threatening anymore.

    Temple also suffers from equally thin characters: Mola Ram is a one-dimensional villain, and a far cry from someone like Belloq. Sallah is replaced by a Chinese kid who speaks pigeon English. Willie Scott is a much weaker heroine than Marion Ravenwood.

    Marion was underused in Indy 4, but she did at least serve a purpose. This is more than we can say for Sallah’s inclusion in The Last Crusade. None of the films are particularly deep, but each does contain a small subtext for Indy’s character. In the beginning of Indy 4, he has his familiar life (including friends) taken away from him. So by the end of the film, he has managed to find a new life via Mutt and Marion. It’s shallow, but it’s there.

    I think Vern is probably right when he says our vast knowledge of the film’s development was an issue here. Yet the patchwork nature of the script was entirely in keeping with the rest of the series. Temple was a collection of unused setpieces from Raiders, and even Crusade included holdovers from those original story sessions. (For example, the Venice boat chase.)

    It seems like fans made a lot of assumptions about Spielberg’s interest in the project. What no one mentions is that he had no great interest in directing Temple or Crusade, either. He nearly vacated the chair in `84 and it took the father-son subplot to interest him in `89. Yet judging from the production videos, he appeared to have a blast making this film.

    A bigger factor was likely the fact that Lucas and Spielberg are now 60-year-old men, and were attempting to relive their childhoods from the 1950s. Unlike the 30-year-olds who made Raiders solely for themselves, they were now making a film to share with their families as well.

    This was simply not an ideal recipe for fanboys living in 2008, who prefer to see their heroes treated seriously and (usually) in an edgy manner.

  19. Yeah as a really bad movie that is fascinating to watch it falls in with WWW and Van Helsing and shit like that, but people are saying that it’s genuinely good and i’m sorry but no, no it is not. I’m pretty sure that thing with Larry Cohen is BS though, they had two similar projects and picked LXG over his thing so he got pissed and sued.

    I’m actually using nostalgia as a negative. People seem to remember the first three Indy movies as glorious masterworks descended from Heaven, given to mankind by God himself as a beacon of what film should be. Well maybe Raiders. But those other two, the ones I hold the franchise up to, are two good, solidly made adventure movies with good action, a lot of really great ideas for characters, traps and action set pieces, and a few really stupid ideas for all those things. Kind of exactly like Crystal Skull.

  20. Alan Moore is a nut job and kind of pisses me off because all his rantings about how film and TV are awful and he can’t be bothered with them annoy me because he’s kind of the face of ‘smart’ comic creators and that face is a drug addled crazy person. With a beard. But despite all that I don’t think there’s any question that he’s a master at what he does. ‘Watchmen’ changed an industry, ‘V’ was great, ‘Killing Joke’ defined one of the most iconic characters in comics history, and while the LXG books are slight compared to those works, they are extremely well written and drawn comics that tell engaging stories with neat charcaters while also deconstructing those same things. That last sentence was way to long, but whatever. My point is…I forget.

  21. I never, ever understood the Temple of Doom hate. I think it’s the second best in the series, which puts it high on my list of best adventure films of all time. The reason Willie is such a wuss is that they already did the tough chick thing in Raiders, so they went the opposite route to differentiate her from Marion. Short Round is probably the most awesome kid sidekick ever, and the action set pieces are some of the best in the whole series. And Mola Ram is so badass that he can rip motherfuckers’ hearts out of their chests with his bare hand and hold them while they burst into flame and their still-living former owners pray to their puny gods, without prevail. It’s a great movie that I will watch again and again until the day I die.

    As for Crystal Skull, I don’t know, it was alright, I guess. I didn’t hate it. It just had too many sidekicks, so the end of the movie was totally overpopulated with characters who had nothing to do. Also, it felt a lot smaller than all the other movies. I think this has to do with the fact that so little of it was shot on location. A soundstage just isn’t as impressive as a real desert or jungle, so the movie just feels less epic in comparison. I keep meaning to give it another shot, though, because I suspect it’ll hold up better on the small screen.

    And for the record, the “nuke the fridge” scene was the best part of the movie.

  22. Brendan – I’ll giive the ole college try to defend LXG, “so bad it’s good” defenses aside, as I did genuinely like it. (I’m 31 by the way, so there’s no kiddie/nostalgia factor involved)

    1) I was never bored with it – it’s under 2 hours and feels the perfect length. The pacing is smooth (until the end battle where it feels rushed). The exposition is handled well, and it never drags, unlike that middle section of KOTCS or the Senate/Council scenes of the prequels.

    2) The action sequences are pretty good. No classics in there, but it’s well shot, edited, and exciting. Between this and Blade, I wish Norrington was still around, because he’d at least be churning out fun, coherent action scenes. (Venice scene is over the top though)

    3) There isn’t a bad performance. Some say Connery is lazy and uninterested, I thought he was fantastic. I even liked pretty-boy Shane West. He seems glad to be on screen with Connery and it shows.

    4) I liked the pseduo father-son relationship with Quatermain and Sawyer. Cliched, predictable, sure. But I’m a sucker for that shit. Then again, when hasn’t Connery excelled in the mentor role? (i.e. Untouchables, Indy 3, even Highlander…)

    5) Wilson and Townsend have great chemistry together. I liked their relationship, and his character in general. The aforementioned changes from the book (which I did read after i saw the movie) only made me like the movie more.

    6) Maybe I’m an idiot, but I didn’t see the plot twists coming. The “vinyl LP” scene with the reveal of the villain was cool. The OTHER villain’s reveal was cool too (trying not to go into spoiler territory)

    7) I like that they cast an unknown (to US at least) as Nemo. I don’t know why, I just think an unknown getting 2nd billing after Connery is cool. People complained that Nemo knows martial arts. I didn’t mind at all and kinda wish every character knew martial arts (just kidding. but not really)

    CJ above compared LXG to classic 80s adventure movies, and I agree with him. There’s something charming and big-hearted about the whole thing. In 2003 when everyone was trying to be The Matrix, it was great to see something trying to be Indiana Jones.

  23. My feelings of KOTCS have already been summarised by other people here. A lurching Frankenscript, too many wasted side characters, an unmemorable villain and a reliance on green screens and sound stages left the film feeling small and phony. These were far greater problems for me than the fridge nuking or vine swinging. I also didn’t mind the sci-fi elements, it made perfect sense to me in keeping with the 50s setting.

    As good as it was to see a well-crafted Spielberg chase on the big screen again, it was nowhere near the caliber of the amazing jeep chase in Raiders or the tank chase in Last Crusade. It reminded me a lot of the mine cart chase in Doom, actually. Cheesy special effects, over-the-top stunts… you never really feel like anybody is in real danger. KOTCS is a lot closer in tone to Doom, so I think people who prefer that one tend to be a lot softer on this one. I suspect time will be kind to KOTCS, like it has been to Doom.

  24. Here goes the old college try (this is going to be pretty fucking long):

    1) What’s the story? When Wolverine came out everyone had a lot of fun mocking the film’s frantic rush from plot point to plot point, character to character without any sense of pace or connective tissue between sequences. Characters just loudly state whatever it is that’s going on and what they’re thinking and then everyone moves on. LXG is the same thing, all the characters just rush around from set to set frantically giving the audience whatever exposition they can cram in. Plot points and themes aren’t developed, they’re pointed out and then forgotten. Every time they get somewhere they get two lines of dialogue to set up what needs to be accomplished while their on this level, oops I mean location. Then it’s off to the races. It’s video game plotting at it’s worst.

    Ex: The first half hour or so of that movie is these characters all tracking each other down and finding reasons to work together. So you would think they spent all that time establishing motives and agendas so that the rest of the movie can be watching these personalities bounce off each other and collide (a la Dirty Dozen, Magnificent Seven,etc) right? So they capture Hyde, completing the roster, for the first time in the whole movie all of our guys are together. THE VERY NEXT SCENE Connery makes a big show of mentioning that he thinks there’s a traitor. How can he suspect someone is sabotaging the mission when they haven’t even had a fucking mission to sabotage yet?
    Ex.2: That sloppiness I was talking about with Wolverine, how scenes just sort of went by? They go to Venice, and for some reason I forget Nemo announces that they need to blow up something that’s far away. So he gives his teammates a flare gun and the keys to his car (which ten minutes ago none of them could comprehend as being posssible) and says have fun, because he needs to stand there and watch for the flare and say fire, because none of his hundreds of crewmen can be trusted with this sacred task. So they go, except Jekyll doesn’t go because he’s useless and Skinner doesn’t go because he’s a red herring and also the filmmakers probably forgot there was an invisible guy in the movie the day they filmed this scene, and five seconds later Gray jumps out and then disappears, then Mina jumps out and turns into a special effect and then Connery jumps out to fight Dracula except we don’t know that it’s Dracula yet we think it’s some other guy, so then Tom Sawyer magically drives a machine he didn’t know existed until like five minutes ago through a giant crowd of a big city that has explosions and gun fights going on, and he avoids all of these things, finds the exact perfect spot to blow something up, drives off a gigantic ramp (don’t worry he’ll be fine), fires into the air and then goes another couple of hundred feet forward and crash lands through a building (don’t worry he’ll be fine). Nemo sees the flare, but decides that Tom Sawyer has absolutely no impact on the storyline and is kind of annoying so he aims the bomb (read: says fire to another guy who pushes a button that makes special effects happen) not at the flare gun trail like the whole sequence would imply was sort of the point but at THE FUCKING BUILDING WHERE TOM SAWYER IS TRAPPED UNDER AND CAR AND RUBBLE! NO! HOW WILL I RELATE TO ANY CHARACTERS NOW THAT THE AMERICAN IS SURELY DONE FOR? Don’t worry he’ll be fine. No really he’s fine. Norrington gives us a POV shot of the giant bomb falling directly on top of Sawyer, and yet the fucker just shows up at the end of scene, perfectly fine. Well, OK, his shirt is torn. Because that is just how Tom Sawyer rolls. Put that motherfucker at Hiroshima, his pants’ll get stressed MAYBE. There is no way to tell, part two didn’t get off the ground. (Maybe I’m being stupid about thinking that having bombs fall directly on top of a person is cause for concern, because the rest of the characters see a giant explosion and all get proud triumphant looks on their faces, as if thier plan went off perfectly. Except they didn’t have a plan. And at the point it must have looked a lot like they just blew up a teammate STRIPES style).

    2) They did round up a good cast for this movie and I thought they all did a pretty decent job (including Connery) but the writing of this movie is FANTASTIC FOUR lazy, where the characters loudly discuss whatever emotional turmoil they’re going through, sometimes with themselves, and then ten minutes later they’ll comment how the situation has developed if we’re lucky. And those are the ones who have arcs to speak of. What exactly does Nemo do in this movie? He’s just sort of there, willing to do anything (except drive his car) no questions asked, nothing asked in return. Skinner just disappears for big chunks of the movie and every time he shows up he has a different personality. Dorian Gray is an asshole, but maybe he’s not just an asshole, but no he is, but OK he feels bad about it, sort of, and oh, now he’s dead. Mina just looks really angrily or coldly at people and then every once in awhile she remembers to do kung fu, or summon bats or fly, they never really explain what being a vampire lets you do in this movie. Connery’s arc is that at the start he’s old and probably going to die and that makes him sad and then at the end he’s old and dead and (I guess?) OK with all of that. Sawyer gets better at killing people. That’s neat.

    And then Hyde. So at the start of the movie, Jekyll is good and Hyde is completely fucking evil, right? That’s kind of the whole dynamic of everything that has ever been written about this set up ever, the whole point of the story. And they even have the scene where Hyde appears in reflections and mindfucks Jekyll who for one scene is in love with Mina and then no one ever mentions it again. So then in the next scene with Hyde, he saves everybody. The completely fucking evil guy just decides to rescue everybody, and when the Jekyll reflection says Good Job Hyde smiles and looks proud that he won approval. The next time Hyde turns up he’s an active participant in the rescue plan and at no point attempts to fuck anyone over, steal shit, break things or escape. He just does the big team high five and has conversations with people, no big deal. And the thing is, at no point was it ever set up that there was some good side of Hyde waiting for the chance to help others, or plant tress or shit like that. He just goes from evil, to maybe not totally evil, to warrior-hero, with no one explaining why this is happening or seeming at all surprised.

    (And how come after Hyde saved everybody, Jekyll walks into the room and they all thank him and he says with a big smile on his face that there’s no need to thank him. No motherfucker, no there isn’t. You drank something and then someone else who wasn’t you did something heroic. Hyde was a hero, not you, which is fucked up anyway as the paragraph above illustrates. That’s like if Jim Belushi did a bunch of interviews about Animal House, but acted like it was really him in the movie the whole time, and everyone else involved in the movie went along with it. Makes no sense).

    3) And I’m not sure how stuff like “They cast an actual Indian guy to play an Indian guy” count towards, actually being good. That just seems like a common sense thing that Hollywood usually fucks up, what with it being Hollywood and all.

  25. @Mr. Majestyk

    Actually, Spielberg’s approach to Kingdom was quite similar to Temple of Doom. Each film had location shooting, but relied heavily on massive soundstages.

    I think the main issue people had was that the location shooting in Indy 4 was confined to North America. I can understand the argument, but shoot did seem to follow the story. (Remember, Hawaii had already been used/established as South America in Raiders of the Lost Ark. So we can’t really fault them for that one.)

    Ultimately, I didn’t mind the change, since I like the way each film feels completely different from the previous entry.

    I do agree with you that the “fridge” scene was one of the highlights, and was genuinely surprised when it was singled out as a nitpick. I thought it was the most “eighties-style” set piece in the entire film.

  26. Brendan
    You just now explained in detail why I love that complete failure. You just give up after like thirty minutes trying to make sense of anything or figure anything out. There’s not a thing done right on that one.

    From what Lucas said in this one interview he (Lucas) was the only one who really wanted to do a number four. Speilberg is more into his “more mature/challenging” fare he does now (that the fanboys hate). Ford doesn’t care as long as the cheque doesn’t bounce. So there is definitely some justification from those who feel Spielberg half-assed this one.

    As far as the ‘phoniness’ of it all. Things like that never bugged me. Sure it adds to the coolness of the scene after the fact with that knowledge but if you like the film it shouldn’t matter one bit if they filmed location or stage. Sure maybe it wouldn’t be as “epic” or something if done on stage instead of location (see: “Lawrence of Arabia” and “The Searchers”) but I think it all starts with if whether or not you give a shit about the events in the film in the first place.

    Just my theory and personal thoughts though.

  27. While watching the movie, I wasn’t necessarily aware of why I wasn’t blown away by the goings-on. I was having a pleasant enough time for most of the movie, but once they got to the temple at the end, I started realizing that it just wasn’t enough, and it was never going to be. The “soundstage vs. location” theory is just me trying to piece together after the fact why the movie didn’t click with me. It just didn’t look or feel like an Indiana Jones movie for me, except for the opening shots…which were clearly on location.

  28. I wanted to see a new Indy movie for a long time and on first viewing I thought they’d waited too long, Ford was too old, times had changed and my initial feling was that the whole thing was too much of a disappointment. But looking back over it, thinking about it, there wasn’t a whole lot wrong with it and it had plenty of the stuff that made me a fan in the first place. LeBouef I found irritating but he’s flavour of the month so I could see why he’d be added to the list. My biggest gripe would with the character, Indy’s son?? Really!! Does that mean Indy 5 will be LeBoeuf and a talking car? Bottom line, I agree with the review and liked it better than Transformers(even in brain turn off mode it was a stupid film)

  29. To be honest, INDY IV has the same problems the “well-liked” LAST CRUSADE suffered. That is, several well-done action sequences in an otherwise decent if not essential viewing.

    I’ve noticed a pattern here. #3 and #4 tried and failed to recapture that lightning in the bottle of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK…and you know, I think Spielberg/Lucas maybe realized this in the first place, which was why they made TEMPLE OF DOOM more dark, more pulpy punk drunk love B-junk….and the only real good Indy sequel as far as I’m concerned.

    But of course people hated DOOM, so here comes RAIDERS 2.0..and 3.0…and apparently, 4.0 coming soon!

    Or just a muse, did Hollywood action cinema catch up to RAIDERS/DOOM by the time of LAST CRUSADE, and thus Spielberg’s action cinema was no longer cutting edge compared to the competition? I mean consider that fateful summer 1981 when a few weeks after RAIDERS came out, we got that year’s 007 entry FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.

    Previously 007 arguably was the gold standard of western action cinema, or the whore everyone fucked for influence. Shit even Indiana Jones was a john of hers. Sure this bitch was influenced by trends (blaxploitation, martial arts, outer space)…but usually in action, stunts, chases, FX….007 was topline.

    Then compare 007 in the 80s after EYES, in the post-RAIDERS Hollywood action cinema, and quite frankly James Bond comes up rather limp. Some could argue that Martin Campbell brought it back up to high standards with both GOLDENEYE and CASINO ROYALE. Perhaps.

    But I’ll say no, because CASINO was undeniably influenced by the most important/influential Hollywood actioneer of this decade: THE BOURNE IDENTITY. Would we have gotten CR if not for BOURNE…or just another bloated mess like DIE ANOTHER DAY? or THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH for that matter?

    Just a random thought. Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on all this rambling shit of mine.

  30. brilliant review Vern

    I thought KOTCS was cool, fuck the haters

  31. but seriously, people’s reaction to this movie was un-fucking-believable, it was this movie that made me realize the majority of internet movie nerds (which I am myself, don’t get me wrong) have NO fucking idea what they are talking about

  32. I just got in an argument about this one with a buddy the other day. He wasn’t having it though. Whatever somebody thinks of the movie I think you gotta admit that people were holding it to standards that they didn’t hold the other two sequels to. They’re complaining about the chase scene being done on greenscreen, but not the mine carts being stop motion. They got a problem with the duck going over the waterfall but not jumping out of a plane in an inflatable raft. They don’t like Jones having a kid sidekick who can sword fight but they absolutely love him having a kid sidekick who can unconvincingly beat up a bunch of adults. It absolutely infuriates them that there are brief shots of CGI prairie dogs, but they got no problem with Last Crusade’s stupid comedy sequence where young Indiana Jones has various wacky encounters with circus animals. etc. etc. Doesn’t seem consistent to me.

    Oh well.

  33. Yeah, I know what you mean. I recently watched it again and still enjoyed the hell out of it!

  34. I didn’t really like KINGDOM all that much, but then TEMPLE OF DOOM is probably my least favourite of the original trilogy, and mainly because of the all the goofy shit you listed (inflatable raft, mine cart chase, Short Round etc). And yeah, the chase scene in KINGDOM is pretty well put together, but you never feel like anyone is any real danger like during the jeep chase in RAIDERS or the tank chase in CRUSADE. I get why they used green screens and CGI; Harrison Ford can’t do all those crazy stunts at his age, but that really just highlights the fact that this film probably shouldn’t have been made in the first place. I think that’s why some people hate the prairie dog so much; it’s a symbol of the CGIficiation of the franchise and the modern blockbuster in general.

  35. Jareth Cutestory

    April 19th, 2010 at 8:29 am

    I’m one of those cranky old guys who dislikes both sequels, and didn’t bother watching CRYSTAL SKULL. But I understand’s Vern’s appreciation of Spielberg’s craft in the original review, and his defence of the film takes on a kind of urgency when seen in the context of the current trends of action film-making.

    But I agree with Griff with the online reaction: a lot of those “nuke the fridge” guys sounded like spurned boyfriends. I can’t imagine where all that anger comes from.

  36. I love the action sequences and am not at all bothered by the silly bits, which actually feel charmingly corny to me. Im not in love with the CGI but I accept it and don’t cry over it too much.

    I personally felt that CRYSTAL SKULL’s problem was that its narratively weak, cramming in too many underdeveloped characters, trucated plotlines, and oddly awkward relationships. It felt like exactly what it was — a script which had too many fingerprints on it, creating a lurching frankenscript which never added up to much. Spielberg seems to only be half-trying to make it work, but man, when he’s on you know it. There are three or four absolutely top-notch action sequences which need to be acknowledged by the masses as expertly staged bits of cinema.

    Its probably my least favorite of the sequels, mostly because it lacks much narrative punch, but its still a fun film I’ll revisit from time to time without resentment. On the other hand, I do think the fanboys may not be completely misguided in their anger. I mean, its a pretty poor movie overall with a few great action sequences in it. I think they may not quite have the analytical ability to identify quite what it is about the film that didn’t move them the way they were hoping, and so instead focus on nitpicky details which are easier to quantify and catalogue.

  37. One thing that I still don’t get are the complaints about the CGI, because even if there are some weak green screen effects during the jungle chase, it still looks better than pretty much all effect shots in “Last Crusade”, which were back then disappointing by the standards of 1989, ILM and Indiana Jones. (Seriously, it amazes me how “Raiders” and “Temple” have so much better special effects than “Crusade”, although they were made years before!)

  38. I think you nailed it, CJ. My problems with the film aren’t with the minor details. The fridge, the monkeys, the gophers, etc., those are all trifles that don’t matter one way or the other to me (although I will argue that the fridge is the film’s one stroke of genius). It’s just that the movie as a whole is not satisfying, particularly in the final stretches, when there are way too many useless characters hanging around with nothing to do. The American segment of the film seems somewhat fresh because of the change of milieu and the issues of the era it’s set in, but the jungle segment just seems like a retread of the series’ past glories, shot on a greenscreen backlot on the cheap. It’s tired and forced in a way that distanced me from the good parts of the movie, like the chase scene.

    But actually, no, I’m not prepared to let the chase scene off the hook either, considering that there were four major set-pieces in the film, and three of them were based on Indy climbing from one moving vehicle to another, and usually the same kind of moving vehicle. In previous installments, Indiana was involved in chases involving tanks, planes, horses, cars, motorcycles, boats, zeppelins, submarines, and mining carts. The scenes were pretty similar, but the variety made them distinct from each other. In Crystal Skull, the best they can do is three chases with cars, trucks, and one motorcycle. “Hey, that truck thing worked out pretty good in the first scene. Let’s do it again. With monkeys!” What about a helicopter or something? Indy never fought a helicopter, as I don’t think they’d been invented yet in his earlier adventures. That would have been a nice change of pace. He could have whipped onto the struts and used it to swing from truck to truck. Or something. Anything. What they chose to do they did well, but they could have thought it through a little more and given us something that we hadn’t seen before.

    I will give you the flying saw blade. But in the eighties it would have killed somebody.

    Anyway, I’m not bitter about this, really. Nobody ever said I was owed a fourth Indiana Jones movie, so it’s not like I have anything to complain about. I just don’t think I’ll ever be able to enjoy this one. Which is kind of a bummer.

  39. Actually, I think I once said you were owed a fourth Indiana Jones movie. But luckily you didn’t hear me.

  40. The original Paul

    October 31st, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Just seen it, was underwhelmed. The individual elements, for the most part, were ok, I just don’t think they fit into a “whole”.

    I don’t have a problem with the fridge. I don’t have a problem with the antagonist (I quite liked Cate Blanchett in this one). I don’t have a problem with Mutt as a character. I don’t have a problem with the fact that it uses aliens instead of religious artefacts.

    My biggest problem with this is the structure of the team.

    So basically you’ve got the standard five characters you get in every movie or book like this – the warrior, the male love interest, the female love interest, the mentor and the traitor. (Also look at Tank, Neo, Trinity, Morpheus and Cypher in “The Matrix”, etc.) This basic structure has been used in novels since the 1800s, and in films since the nineteen-thirties (that I can think of, there are probably earlier examples). It’s one of the most well-used team dynamic structures in literature, which means it’s hugely familiar to everyone. When you do it, you have to do it right.

    I would’ve liked to have seen more of Indy’s relationship with Mutt’s mother. I would have preferred the fifth columnist angle to have been dealt with more plausibly, and for the character of the traitor to be more well-drawn. There’s never really tension rising from the question of “is he or isn’t he?” because it barely matters to the story as a whole.

    When you make a film like this, everyone knows that the good guy will triumph in the end. It’s a feel-good summer movie. Paradoxically that leaves you with a problem: how do you create tension when everyone knows what is going to happen? And the way you do it is to have a strong interpersonal dynamic between the different members of the team. To me, that’s what’s missing here.

    And I gotta be honest, without that factor, this one bored me. It looked great, there was a lot of spectacle, but no soul. There were a few noteworthy moments – especially between Mutt and Indy – but the relationships didn’t feel “real”. It felt as though the “human” stuff had been cut out, to make time for more chase scenes and special effects. Bad decision.

    The best and most memorable scene in the movie is Indy talking to an old friend of his in a classroom. It’s a simple conversation between two intelligent people who are friends with each other and are in somewhat difficult circumstances. And it’s easily the moment I felt most “connected” to. Because the adventure stuff, the stuff that worked so well in “Raiders”, doesn’t work here.

    I love that they made a movie about a group of people who revel in going on adventures in foreign climates. I wanted to be there with them, but I didn’t feel as though I was. This movie should’ve been FUN.

    I mean, hang it, didn’t “The Last Crusade” work so well because it was all about the relationship between Indy and his father? It gave us a reason to root for them, to want them to come through in the end. I didn’t get that here, at all.

    Meh, it’s a good spectacle. Just don’t go in expecting anything more than that. I disagree with the critics though. They focussed on extraneous detail (who the hell cares if a fridge can’t take a nuclear blast anyway?) when they should’ve been focussing on the characters.

  41. Vern you fucking nailed it in this review. Thanks for putting into words what I have been thinking about regarding this movie for the last couple of years.

    I thought it was just me who felt this way about all the hate for this movie. Is this movie great? No way. But it does hold the same thru line and tone from the other sequels.

    I know haters of KOTCS who piss all over it and give TOD a free pass. I can remember specifically as a 15 year old kid watching that sequence in 1984 when he leaps from the plane with the raft and thinking WTF?

    And nuking the fridge is unbelievable? Hardly. The outrageousness of the Indy films goes back to those sequels in the 80’s. The series always got more unrealistic as it went on, KOTCS just continues it in a modern way.

  42. I just gotta stick my spoon into this soup also.
    I went in to see Indy 4 in a theatre with pretty modest expectations (a friend from work told it was “good”. But she also digs Brendan Fraser’s Mummy – movies) and I thought it was easily the only Indy movie to be actually considered “bad”. Raiders is a classic, Doom is stupid in a lot of ways but entertaining and action – packed, Crusade lacks action but provides a decent plot, good characters and welcome laughs.

    After reading Vern’s 2 defending analysis I started second – guessing my hatred towards KOTCS, but… no. The movie just isn’t good. The problem isn’t in the elements: 60-year old Indy, 50s setting, Marlon Brando-type sidekick/son, Marion again, Flying saucers… THIS is good stuff. Problem lies in the noncoherent script (surprisingly the Darabont “original” isn’t much better) and is made worse by Spielberg’s loose grip of things. Some of the setpieces and action sequences do work, but most of the time I think things are not magical but technical, and sometimes even sloppy. I’d describe KOTCS like the Moonraker of Indiana Joneses: same team, professional work, big budget, crowd – pleasing elements and the feel of an upgrade, but… the feel is just wrong. (Indy 4 also made a lot of money. Like Moonraker. And back in the day a lot of people defended it saying it’s not supposed to be Hamlet. Like Moonraker).

    I just hope we’ll get an Indy 5 to set things straight. I mean, after Moonraker the Bond – people faced the facts, dropped the fancy eye-candy crap and took things back to the original, simpler, two-fisted roots, giving us one of the better Bond-movies again, For your eyes only (IMHO in the top three of the series). Lucas & Co can also do that. Lucas himself did it – after Episode II he gave us Sith.

    So, sticks and stones aside, Crystal Skull was a dud but I still wish for one more Indy movie with Ford on the lead. Get back to drawing board, and this time put together a simple story and take everything out of that. And instead of surviving nukes using a fridge have Indy survive fistfights and shootouts using his wits, fists, gun or the whip.

  43. Very late on commenting but here’s my theory of why people didn’t like Indy 4. Having seen it again recently, it’s not a bad movie. It’s not as great as Raiders but it’s not terrible. There are some really great moments and action in it. I was reading some Spielberg autobiography written in the 90s which was kind of terrible but I think I found the reason why Indy 4 didn’t click with people. The writer of the autobiography actually didn’t like Raiders of the Lost Ark and complained that Indiana Jones wasn’t a real adult compared to the villain Belloq but I think that’s the people love Raiders and specifically Indiana Jones in Raiders. He’s the living embodiment of of a boy’s(or should I say child’s) fantasy. He’s like a more badass Peter Pan or Tom Sawyer. He’s doing what kids dream of doing in that movie while being an adult. Belloq and the Nazis area more grownup and just like the grownups in ET the fun is in outwitting them. That’s why a lot of people also love INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE where he’s more of a kid with his dad around being disapproving most of the time. Also it starts with Indy as a kid in a prologue and when they flashforward he hasn’t changed. It’s also I believe why they didn’t like INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM even though it has some of the best set pieces Spielberg ever. In it Indy’s not only being a father figure to his little sidekick Short Round, but also to the completely useless female Willie Scott, telling her to eat food she doesn’t want because she’s embarrassing him. He has to be a strict parent to Willie through most of the movie and people didn’t like it. In KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL with Indy being 60 it was unavoidable that Indy had to grow up and be mature. Maybe they could have played Indy as a “kid” but it would have been sad. In the end I liked that he got to have a relationship with his son before and after he knew.

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  45. Hey just wanted to put my thoughts on re-watching KOTCS recently. I was one of the people that hated it originally to the point that I have never watched it again since I first saw it at the movies.

    Well I recently bought a boxset with all the Indy’s as it was dirt cheap and gave KOTCS another go around. And damn it if I don’t agree that’s its’s pretty damn good!

    Some factors that might have contributed to this are the fact I rewatched all the previous films and while they are all great, they all have flaws as well. They’re not perfect, even Raiders (though it’s close). I think this soften me up for KOTCS and found myself not caring about ‘nuking the fridge’ and Tarzan Mutt. The other thing is that in comparison to a lot of the recent blockbusters like Star Trek into Darkness and Man of Steel, it’s quality shines a lot more.

    The action scenes are definitely a highlight, but I don’t think that’s what I enjoyed the most about. I liked the consistency of the movie to the earlier ones. I agree there’s more CGI and soundstage stuff than I would have liked but it still really looks and feels like the older films. It also follows the same formula as well, despite the difference with the 50’s B-movie thing. It still has Indy going after something fantastical, with him excited at the idea but not really convinced about the fantastical part. He uses his knowledge to work out where it is, and then some good action to actually find it.

    I also liked how Indy still feels very true to the original character. It’s not a Die Hard 4 and 5 thing where it no longer feels like McClane. Indy is a bit older and wiser but definitely still him.

    There are still some parts I really don’t like (the nuke scene is actually pretty badass, but I hate the bit when Indy and Mutt crash in the library and the student asks him a study question. Just feels like a really lame attempt at humour). Overall a lot better than I originally thought this was. Vern you once again show your wisdom

  46. Thanks for the update Bender, I really do think it’s interesting to hear your experience there. I wonder if many other people will turn around on it like that? (Or what if I rewatch it and start hating it, to restore balance?)

  47. Disney has bought Indiana Jones film rights from Paramount, so I guess this means INDY V is a go? (Or a reboot is in order.)

    http://variety.com/2013/film/news/disney-acquires-indiana-jones-rights-from-paramount-1200927216/#

    Wasn’t there a recent rumor or something that as part of his participation in the new STAR WARS movies that Ford demanded INDY V be made or be developed at least?

  48. I’m glad to hear Disney is doing something with Indy

  49. I guess this means someday we’re getting a Captain America/Indy Jones WW2-era crossover adventure?

  50. Well they did actually make a RAIDERS reference in CAPTAIN AMERICA when the Red Skull mentions the Nazis being busy looking for stuff in the desert while he was getting real power.

  51. If Ford does not do more Indy´s, this CRYSTAL SKULL would be as far as i am concerned a great film to end on, since it connects back with the first film emotionally with Marion and it kind of ends like in a definitive way also, I feel. I am perfectly happy that we got another Indy. But, no. people are instead happily bitching about the flaws of it. No matter what it would have ended up as, it would have been teard a new asshole. I love it.

    But at the same time I hate the community that feeds the hatred for it, it has become an neverending spiral and to be honest I would be happy to tear their heart out Mola Ram style, since they don´t seem to have room for more love of more Indy-films, they don´t really need it.

    Sorry about that last rant. But hey, I gotta speak honestly.

  52. I should have edited that last post a bit more before I posted, but I think my opibnon is clear at least.

  53. do you guys think Disney should recast the role or bring Ford back?

    to be honest, I think they should recast it, I think Indiana Jones is a character that can live on like James Bond, now I know that it would be hard to find someone who could fill Ford’s shoes, but I don’t think it would be impossible

    and they wouldn’t even have to make it a reboot either, just set it in the 20’s and make it a younger Jones

  54. Well, they would have to, wouldn´t they? It is not something on most peoples minds since Ford is so iconic in that role. But don´t forget that Sean Patrick Flanery played that role before in YOUNG INDIANA JONES. He was a bit stiff though, so it would have to be someone that could emulate Fords more rough,and grimy demenour.

  55. Shoot, I feel the vocal backlash against INDY IV is why more producers of classic franchises aren’t willing to consider opening it up again. Why bother if people are just going to hate it? I think this is a terrible attitude. We should encourage filmmakers to try and make great films. If they fail, okay, nice try. Maybe even try again. What I’m saying is I still want BACK TO THE FUTURE IV no matter what. Maybe Disney can buy it.

    I think Ford definitely has one or two more left in him. Regardless of who plays him, I think the important thing is that this become a regular series with a new one every few years so its not the decades long build up. Hopefully with Lucas out a major roadblock is lifted. Nothing against Lucas. When it was his baby, he was naturally protective but without that burden maybe creativity can flow freely. I do wonder what a non Spielberg directed INDY would look like. That’s not something we’ve seen yet.

  56. Stu – If Spielberg passes on INDY V (which I’m expecting honestly), don’t be shocked if Joe Johnston is hired.

    Shoot – I wouldn’t blame Flanery as much as YIJ was well-meaning “edutainment” that generally was too stiff in trying to “hey kids, look at that? Time to learn!” and suffered as a result. Then again that was the basic original noble idea behind DOCTOR WHO before the episodes with monsters got much bigger ratings than the historical non-science fiction episodes and that plan went out the door.

    (All that said, I did catch the Mexican Revolution episode of YIJ on YouTube once which Lucas has a “story by” credit. That was inspired and thoughtful, not just on that historical event but also built into character development with an idealistic young man getting his first taste of world-weary cynicism that would define in RAIDERS.)

  57. Bad fan fiction time, but here’s an idea: What if INDY V is set in the 1970s? A retired and slower Dr. Jones and his smart teenage granddaughter (which Mr./Mrs. Jones have raised since her parents died off-screen years earlier.) still go out on their adventures. Considering that decade and the New Age/wacky shit that the public ate up, what if his last possible great adventure is Atlantis* or the Bermuda Triangle?

    *=Remember the old point/click game?

  58. Indiana Jones in the 70’s would be pretty funny, I like that idea

    I can just imagine the look on his face seeing some hippy spouting bullshit about aliens when he himself has seen one and knows the truth

    also, if we’re going with the 70’s theme, maybe the cold opening could have Indy having a run-in with Bigfoot?

  59. Griff— I like where your head’s at. Allow me to expound:

    [Fade in, 1970’s Indy scenario] Dr. Jones and Marion have been divorced for quite some time. Marion goes to visit her son & his wife and the grandkids in the wilds of the Redwood Forests Of Northern California. During a nature hike, all are killed by a rambunctious & appropriately stinky Bigfoot critter.

    Dr. Jones dons the fedora, straps on the leather jacket, brandishes the whip, and goes lookin’ for some rough justice. He travels west with the exit line “Ghost Of Marcus, don’t wait up for me!”.

    As he stomps on the gas pedal of his 70’s muscle car to begin his journey, Sean Connery pops (NPI) his head out the door, and futilely cries “Junior!”, and that’s the last we see of him.

    But when Indy reaches California and begins his quest, he’s pestered by a scruffy band of hippies (lead by Paul Rudd, a benevolent [or IS he?] Mansonesque guru) who feel animal rights are being violated by Dr. Jones’s mission.

    Meanwhile, this same group of hippies is being investigated/shadowed by the FBI, by way of direct orders from the POTUS. Stellar turns from Jack Black as J. Edgar Hoover and Norm McDonald as Richard M. Nixon.

    Wacky hijinks ensue… roll credits.

  60. Fred – You mean you can´t make an omelette without breaking some eggs? Well, it certainly worked for the F&F franchise. It took them some movies before they could get it right.

  61. Griff— My piggybank is currently oinking in a different direction. No can do, hoss.

  62. RRA – I remember that game. THE FATE OF ATLANTIS. There is in other words a concept right there to take advantage of. Also a less convoluted title.

  63. I have 0 interest in ever seeing another Indiana Jones movie. Didn’t even bother with this one since it looked terrible. What I do hope is that since it’s likely there will be more movies this means we will get a media re-release of the first 3 movies on their own and without the 4th one attached. That way they could release 2 trilogies to make more money and I could finally buy them since it’ll be cheaper to purchase them together than separate.

  64. “I can just imagine the look on his face seeing some hippy spouting bullshit about aliens when he himself has seen one and knows the truth ”

    Griff – Or because this is 1970s, the teenage granddaughter doesn’t like guns but (like just about every other 70s TV/movie character) she’s a master at Judo or Karate or whatever martial arts.

    The one problem with 1970s setting is that, what natural bad guys can Indy deal with this time? I mean 1930s=Nazis, 1950s=Soviets are obvious. But 70s? Maybe Middle Eastern terrorists, they’re after a religious idol because they want it as a weapon or because it offends them? Maybe the CIA?

  65. Obviously, he fights The Man.

  66. RRA— “Iranians… I hate these guys!”.

    Natch it would have to be set in the very late 70’s, and maybe poor timing given the current precarious state of U.S./Iran relations.

    Still, fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke. Let’s go that route.

    Gotta go wonky with casting, though. Saul Rubinek as The Shah, and Richard Libertini as The Ayatollah.

    Mr. M— Damn skippy… you ALWAYS fight The Man. He’s the natural adversary of all right-thinking people.

  67. You know I’m reminded of the early rumors for INDY IV that allegedly the Ark of the Covenant would’ve been the plot device again with the Soviets finding out about “Moses’ atomic bomb” (fitting description considering it was set in the 1950s when the world was nuke-crazy) and wanting their hands on it….and I always kinda fancied that. You know a complete the circle sort of thing. But after INDY IV threw the Ark out there as a gag, that sail has lost its winds I suppose.

    I do love the Big Foot idea, however.

  68. Indy fights TOP men…

  69. Where you been spending your nights, Shoot?

  70. I spend them mostly inside The Ark. It is a bit tight, but the ghoulish companions sure makes it more entertaining than your standard sleeping bag.

  71. I don’t know guys. INDIANA JONES AND THE CURSE OF THE SASQUATCH just sounds a little too small for Indy to be dealing with. But I like the idea of fighting The Man. Maybe MKUltra can be involved.

    Anyway, I don’t think there are reviews for the other movies so I just wanted to drop this in here: I agree with you guys above, TEMPLE is much better than I’d remembered it. As a young boy watching it ten thousand times, Willie was just insufferable. But now she doesn’t seem nearly as bad… she’s just a fish out of water, and she does, after all, save their lives in the Bug and Spikes Trap. What I really admired was how well paced TEMPLE was. Never a dull moment. Sure, there’s a lot of ridiculousness–the raft is a perfect example, and eating at the Pankot Palace is absurd–but it’s fun and it moves quickly.

    I’m still not yet at the point where I’m willing to give SKULLS another try, but maybe sometime soon.

  72. I’ve always loved TEMPLE OF DOOM, that movie is just plain fucking cool, I’ve always thought the only reason people think it’s bad is because the original is flawless, same thing happens to GHOSTBUSTERS 2

    in fact, in my opinion all 3 of the original Indiana Jones are equally awesome because they’re each totally different takes on the premise and each of the original three are reflective of the period of the 80’s in which they were made, the original is very early 80’s, the second very mid and the third very late 80’s, it’s seriously hard for me to pick a favorite

    shame CRYSTAL SKULL had to go and ruin a perfect trilogy

  73. Griff – GHOSTBUSTERS 2 can’t even do TEMPLE OF DOOM’s laundry. I don’t see the correlation there at all.

    I mean TOD is much more pulpy than RAIDERS, more accepting that yeah this was based off what originally was “junk” and embraces much more some of those tropes (both good and bad) than RAIDERS I suppose. I mean a (sorta racist) Indian death cult! Awesome.

    Also I just like that scene when Ford blows his cover because he got pissed that big asshole was beating that kid up.

  74. Hi Griff.

    Yeah, they’re all pretty awesome but I’m not sure what you mean how they’re so reflective of the 80s. What makes TEMPLE so 1984? It’s not like there’s Pac Man running around or anything. I’m not trying to make fun, I’m genuinely curious!

    It’s kind of sad Spielberg sort of disowns it too. He’s said that the only good thing to come out of the movie was meeting Kate Capshaw.

  75. Spielberg always throws his less popular creations under the bus. “You didn’t like that one? Haha, yeah, me neither! What a stinker! We’re still bros, right, bros?” [tents fingers in front of face]

  76. “Griff – GHOSTBUSTERS 2 can’t even do TEMPLE OF DOOM’s laundry. I don’t see the correlation there at all.”

    oh, I’m not saying GHOSTBUSTERS 2 is as good as TOD, but GB2 is not as bad as people say it is, it just has the misfortune of following one of the greatest movies of all time, which is a tough act to follow, TOD faced a similar predicament

    M. Casey – it’s a good question and I’m not sure how to put it into words exactly, but what I mean is the look of the films, the tone and the style of the three films reflect how movies in general evolved over the course of the 80’s, there’s just something about RAIDERS that screams early 80’s to me, something about TEMPLE OF DOOM that screams mid 80’s and something about LAST CRUSADE that screams 1989, I guess to give you an example, look at how gritty and raw RAIDERS is versus how slick and polished LAST CRUSADE is

    and speaking of LAST CRUSADE, that one has always held a special place in my heart because of how I discovered it, when I was a kid I had no idea there was a third Indiana Jones film, all I knew was RAIDERS and TOD, but Indiana Jones was already the stuff of legend to me, so imagine my surprise and excitement when I discovered that there was a THIRD film, one I had never seen or heard of before, at Blockbuster! it felt like unearthing a lost treasure of my own, I remember after watching it I tried re-enacting the tank battle in the sand at my school’s playground with some buddies of mine, good times…

    I had a similar experience with ALIENS, I had only seen ALIEN on TV and had no clue there was more and it was actually my dad who clued me in to the existence of the sequel, which he rented for me, you better believe that shit blew my mind

  77. M. Casey, to me TEMPLE is “so 1984” because of the white James Bond tuxedo, the Indian actors from GANDHI, the Dan Aykroyd cameo and muscle-man-in-everything from 007 to Conan Pat Roach.

  78. The Original... Paul

    May 14th, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Why the heck would you want to mess up a perfectly good Indy film with a Captain America appearance?

    On the Indy 2 vs Ghostbusters 2 debate… I still like Ghostbusters 2. Always have, probably always will. Sorry fanboys. I have no problems with it. Not the river of slime, not the painting, not even the goddamned Statue of Liberty. Yes, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original; and yes, it makes zero sense that the ‘busters are pretty much starting from scratch (given recent marshmallow-related events). But it’s still pretty good on its own terms.

    I like Indy 2 as well, but it is VERY racist and Willie is VERY annoying. These two things bother me more than anything in “Ghostbusters 2”. As a piece of dramatic film… I would have to say that Indy 2 stands up better than Ghostbusters 2. I think the pacing is better and it’s got a lot of genuine horror to it. At times it can get seriously dark, which some people hate but I kinda like. The Willie shenanigans almost kill it for me, but in the end she’s not really enough to doom the film. She’s sort of on the Joe “I don’t care what kind of fucking sandwich you want, you stupid little gnome” Pesci in “Lethal Weapon 2” level of annoyance… if she was in the film any more than she was, she’d kill it, but as it is she’s just kind of there.

    I would totally fund the seventies Indy film, and the subsequent blaxploitation homage to it. “Indiana Jones” is the name of a blaxploitation hero if ever I heard one.

  79. As somebody who grew up watching THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS I have no real beef with GHOSTBUSTERS 2. I still enjoy it for what it is. I liked the elements it took from the cartoon. I could see why adults that only knew the original movie hated it though. It was basically a lesser rehash of the original beat for beat. The supernatural pre title scene? check, the Ghostbusters busting ghost and flipping chairs as their first real bust in the movie? check, Peter trying to court Dana throughout the movie? check, Big Giant walks all across New York? check.

    Then they had Bobby Brown replace Ray Parker Jr. but with a better song IMO. It just felt too uninspired in a world that had already seen something like ALIENS invert it’s predecessors concept and genre on it’s head. By the third act the movie is at it’s most uninspired even Ivan Reitman says he could change that. I do think a lot of the jokes are underrated though. I always see people talking about the infamous Ebert review where he says no one in his audience laughed. Well I guess those people probably aren’t very funny?

    With that said TEMPLE OF DOOM is much better because it does it’s own thing. It has it’s own identity. I remember before LAST CRUSADE I used to watch TEMPLE the most out of the 2 Indiana Jones. To a 5 year old kid monkey brains and fighting the mob for an antidote in shanghai was more interesting than melting nazis. I also always sympathized with the slave kids. As a kid myself I felt thank god that Indiana Jones is gonna go out there and kick ass and the pay off is great. Death cult guy still has one of the most hilarious looking deaths in movie history.

    Still can’t bring myself to see CRYSTAL SKULL though.

  80. GHOSTBUSTERS 2 is still a missed opportunity though to be fair, it would have been cooler if they had totally inverted the premise ALIENS style and I believe that was their original intention, I could be remembering this wrong but I seem to remember reading somewhere that the original idea for the sequel was them becoming ghosts themselves and dealing with a pair of psychics trying to “exorcise” them, getting a taste of their own medicine in other words

  81. Um, why wouldn’t you just want to see the ghostbusters have more adventures? GB2 is fucking hilarious.

    I think the ghostbusters as ghosts was just Bill Murray’s snarky idea to get out of a cameo. At best it sounds like a clever twist on paper that in reality would undermine the whole movie. Even if they bring them back to life in the end, if the afterlife isn’t funny then they’ve just wasted a whole movie on a botched premise. ALIENS doesn’t mean every sequel has to reinvent the franchise. We should be on GHOSTBUSTERS 7 by now. Also there should be BACK TO THE FUTURE IV in 2015.

  82. well make no mistake Fred, I’m happy that we at least got more adventures with the Ghostbusters, that’s better than nothing

  83. I was going to say the “that’s OK, we were arrested at night” gag in GHOSTBUSTERS 2 was just about the worst joke I’ve ever heard in a movie, but weirdly, as I was typing it, I started to think it wasn’t that bad

  84. Every line Bill Murray says in GB2 is quotable. That alone makes the movie worthwhile.

    “I have seen some DUMB blondes in my time, pal, but you. Take. The taco.”

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