Monday, May 26, 2008

The Inevitable Indy 4 Post (Spoilers Ahead)

When word came out that INDY 4 was finally going into production, I took a rather bitter attitude towards the whole thing. There was no way it was going to be any good. Too much time has passed and it didn’t seem like they were making it with the same sense of fun as the first three. The business of Hollywood movies has changed and unfortunately big, bloated over-developed blockbuster movies are the norm. I didn't think that INDY 4 would come out unscathed.

Then the first poster came out.

Then the trailer.

And by the time this weekend rolled around, they had managed to turn me around from a stand-offish cynic to a pure fanboy, drooling with excitement that Indiana Jones was coming back to the theaters. They did their job so well, that I was bubbling with anticipation for this weekend. But unfortunately, my first instincts about the movie proved to be correct.

There were some rollicking good times to be had--pure INDY fun in some spots (the jungle car chase was great). But there were also some groan-inducing moments (what was up with the “monkey boy” scene?) and a story that ultimately didn’t make a lot of sense. The CGI ants made me miss the real bugs they used in TEMPLE OF DOOM. I think that Grandpa George was trying to remake AMERICAN GRAFFITI as the 50s setting was less than eloquently forced down our throats in the first half. And poor Marian Ravenwood. There was a time when she was out there drinking Nazi’s under the table and verbally sparring with Indy, instead of clinging to his arm and smiling giddily every time he uses his whip or makes a joke. Separately, these are forgivable imperfections. But combined with the missteps made at the end of the movie, and it becomes a tough film to love.

Aliens. Why did it have to be aliens?

I get it that the sci-fi stuff fits into the 50s setting. But it would have been so much cooler if they hinted at the alien stuff instead of us seeing so much of it. If they had just pulled back a little bit. I might have been able to forgive the Tarzan scene if they hadn’t junked up the end with a freaking spaceship.

So here’s what INDY 4 tells us about the three key players involved:

Harrison Ford – While he’s become something of a quiet, cranky guy in public these days, he can sure turn on the charm when he needs to. I wish he did more movies like this.

Steven Spielberg – Almost every current action movie director needs to go back to film school and study how Spielberg shoots an action scene. There wasn’t a single jumpy, handheld moment in the entire film. I might not be able to explain to you the plot of the movie, but I can totally tell you what was going on in each action set-piece. Now if only he’d stop using David Koepp to write all of his movies.

George Lucas – I know that the alien stuff was his idea. Naming a character “Mutt” was probably also his too. This man must be stopped.

Friends have told me that I went in with my expectations too high. I think that it’s a shame to have to lower expectations when the movie in question is being helmed by one of the current masters of popcorn movies and the franchise is INDIANA JONES.

Sigh. Disappointed yet again.

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