Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Problem with Indiana... and other ramblings

First of all, hello. How are you? I'm fine, could complain about several things, but I'll choose one. I'll get to that in a moment, but first I wanted to set a few issues straight. One being that I'm not dead. Other bloggers I assume have told you of my legendary struggles against Larceny, Atrophy, Zealotry, Idiotism, Negligence, Erosion, Scandal and Suppression. Nevertheless, a good bastard knows to keep digging. Which brings me to the question...

What the hell happened to Indiana Jones? Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie, but there were problems. If you haven't seen the movie yet, then read no further. I'm going to get right into this. We open with a military convoy driving down a highway in the Nevada desert, it passes a sign that says, 'Atomic Cafe'. The convoy pulls up to a restricted military base and soldiers kill the guards. The soldiers are Russians disguised as American grunts. They continue on to the main base and out of the trunk of one car is Mac(Ray Winstone), running partner to Indiana Jones, who they pull out next. Here we are introduced to the supposed villain of the movie, Colonel Doktor Spalko (Blanchett). The usual dialogue follows with a strange addition, Spalko tries to read Indy's mind. He laughs and so do we. Later we find out that Spalko was the head scientist for psychic warfare that both superpowers were working on at the time. This interesting story point was dropped because apparently we won't buy it. Are we knee deep in a Cold War story? Alas, we are not. The Russians open up a hangar door with the number 51 posted on it with wooden crates inside. The audience knows exactly where we are and what is kept in those top secret boxes. Spalko assumes that Indiana has been here before and as it turns out he hasn't. After she tells him what they are looking for, however, he sure as hell knows how to find it. They locate the crate and as the Russians are awe-struck faces opening the crate, Indy and Mac take the opportunity to turn the tables. Spalko smiles and we see that Mac has trained his gun on our boy. He escapes, of course, and we are treated to Indy doing what he does best.

And then it fell apart from there.

Next scene, okay, but you have to ask yourself was it really necessary. The FBI shows up and tells our hero that he is under investigation for communist suspicion. Here we learn that Indiana has been busy since last we saw him. He was a Colonel in the OSS and is considered a patriot and hero. Doesn't matter, the bureau has him fired from his teaching job. Shocked and angry, he decides to leave the country to search for employment elsewhere because, we learn that there is nothing keeping him here (Mac's betrayal, and we learn that Papa Jones and Marcus are dead). Enter Mutt Williams(LaBeouf), who tells him that he is a ward of one of Indy's old friends and said friend has been missing for weeks. Oxley (John Hurt) has been chasing after an old legend from his and Indy's school days, the Crystal Skull. Indy believes it to be a myth, but after Mutt shows him evidence that Ox sent him and his mother, Marion, and is told that both are in trouble; the chase is on.

From here on, we learn that Mutt's mother is in fact Marion Ravenwood(Allen, who's character was gutted. She displayed none of her fearlessness and independence that made her great) and guess who Mutt really is. The Russians are never really a threat and Mac's reversals in the movie are unbelievable, as is Indy's trusting nature. Oh, and the skull is actually alien in truth and we are treated to the spectacle of a flying saucer in South America, with only Indy and Ox seeing it with 'Mulder eyes'.

Here is the problem with the movie. No spine and no subtlety. Again, I enjoyed the adventure, but Spielberg and Lucas used to be better with this material. The movie(subplot that is) should have been about a declining adventurer in a paranoid world, with no family and no other great treasures to discover. Think about it; Crusade was basically about a man reconnecting with his father. With a subtle subplot about Cold War paranoia, family, and the death of a golden age of pulp adventures; this would have been a better movie. I think the main issue here is the fact that Spielberg has used the same production people for years. Which don't get me wrong, these individuals are the top of their respective fields, but they and Spielberg don't change. Oh, they changed for Munich and AI (which can only be described as a beautiful mess between two conflicting styles), but for the tentpole movies its always the same product. Look at Eastwood; same people, different results. They CHANGE with the material in any given movie.

I don't know about the rest of you, but this movie could have used a few more years of work. And we would have waited because it was Indiana Jones. This wasn't.


that black bastard

1 comment:

Carl V. said...

You beat me to the punch, but have at least motivated me enough that I'm going to go ahead and get off my butt soon and do a review. I somewhat enjoyed the experience and yet found myself thinking less and less of the finished product that more I got away from it to the point that my disappointment in the finished product has stopped me from reviewing it for the last couple of days. I need to though. Your points of frustration are the same as mine. It certainly is a film of 'what could have been' instead of a fitting tribute to a classic character.