What is this handbasket we’re in, and where is it going?

They named him after the dog!

It’s a well-worn term: it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. Unfortunately for the entire action/archeology/nazi-ass-kicking loving world, George Lucas just wouldn’t adhere to the rule. So we’re left with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal skull. I don’t make it to many movies these days, but my love for Indy drew me to the box office, as it did the millions of customers it drew in its opening weekend. Though I was a week or two late.

Getting reacquainted with a character as badass as Indiana Jones proved to be bittersweet, at best. From the outset it’s clear – the years have not been too kind to old Indy. Harrison Ford has aged greatly, which is to be expected. That’s not the problem. It has been 20 years since the Last Crusade, after all. But it’s terribly striking here because they’re still trying to pass this aged Indiana off as the same one twenty years younger. Age certainly has not gotten to Harrison Ford’s stuntman (or CGI counterpart, knowing the way Lucas and Spielberg operate). Indiana Jones, complete with gray hair and turkey neck, fights and rampages around the ancient ruins of South America as if he were fresh off his adventures in the Last Crusade…The disconnect is huge and very noticeable.

But I’d be fine with all that if the movie were any good, and let me tell you, as far as Indiana Jones movies goes, this is the bottom of the barrel. I mean, the original three are up here (imagine me holding my hand high above my head) while the newer one is down here (my hand is buried in three feet of sand).

I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. Not because I’m polite, but because anything in this movie that would be considered a spoiler is actually insanely stupid, and I wouldn’t want to subject my loyal audience to such crap. I’ll just ponder, instead, how they departed so radically from the familiar tones in the previous three Indy movies to the climax of the latest one?

So, since I’m averting spoiling the movie, let me reel off a quick list of why the newest Indiana Jones flick isn’t up to the gold Indy standard set over two decades ago:

There is no face melting, head exploding, gruesomely accelerated aging, divine retribution. There are no races against the Nazis to locate Biblical relics. There is no ritual sacrifice – no one has their heart pulled out of their still living body. No one is eaten by alligators. There are no bar fights with creepy German guys. There are no bar fights, period. Sallah is inexplicably missing. Henry Jones Sr. is no more (Connery should grow a pair and come out of retirement, he’s too awesome not to). Marcus has passed on (RIP Denholm Elliot). Did I mention that there was no wrath of God? Or nary a Nazi ass getting beat down in spectacular fashion to be found?

I admit, however, that I may be a bit biased. The original Indiana Jones movies hold a special place in my heart. Much like the original Star Wars trilogy. Like the new Star Wars trilogy, the new Indiana Jones just can’t cut through the crap to reach the pinnacle of perfection its forbearer created. I think it may have something to do with George Lucas’s and Steven Spielberg’s increasingly evident computer graphics fetish. I think it’s interfering with their movie making, but what do I know.

There was a real opportunity here, to show Indiana Jones as an old badass, with old man problems – like shoddy knees, lack of endurance, false teeth, incontinence. Instead, we have a visibly aged Indiana, who can still fight and jump and whip his way to the end of the movie as if he were still 30. It’s not convincing. It’s actually a bit stupid. Especially the part where Indiana Jones survives an atomic blast. Oops. But then, you knew he didn’t die, right?


June 2, 2008 - Posted by | Arts and Entertainment

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for calling a spade a spade. I agree with you on the fact they could have really made it cool if they had faced the fact he is 20 years older. That could have been a real main draw. I actually haven’t seen the new movie, but probably will wait until it comes out on video…along with the Sex and the City movie…just because I don’t like the idea of them ignoring his aging…guess I’m kind of sensitive since I’m aging too. Good review. Thanks.

    Comment by grandmasheri | June 3, 2008 | Reply

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