Indiana Jones is Still My Idol

Normally I go to bed at 11 every night. I wake up at 6, having not quite gotten 7 hours sleep, and then I head to work. As I get older with each passing day, I find that I no longer have that itching desire of youth to stay out until the wee hours and take back the night. No, I’m tired, I’d rather sleep. Particularly when I have work the next morning.

But last night I made an exception. The last Indiana Jones film had a midnight screening. The first wide release screening. Sure, I was old and tired. But I couldn’t resist staying up all night to see Harrison Ford don the fedora and whip one last time. Like many kids of the 80s, I grew up wanting to be Indiana Jones. He was the coolest of the cool. Not like Schwarzenneger or Stallone. He wasn’t the strongest or the fastest. Indy mainly survived by his wits and his smarts. But he still managed kick ridiculous amounts of ass when the occasion called for it. The last true Icon of our generation. It’s Indiana Jones.

Of course, I was never delusional. George Lucas has long since lost his mind in the fantastic, glittering, neon world of CGI-land. And Indy is old now. Not to mention the fact that people have been waiting for this movie since the late 80s, and it’s impossible to live up to that kind of hype. So I knew going in that there was a very good chance this movie could suck.

So did it?

The short answer is no. The more realistic one is “maybe” depending on how you look at things. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. But it’s VERY flawed. And it’s mainly do to two things.

The Script

Lucas didn’t write the script this time, he just came up with the story. And another writer actually got the thankless job of making Nu-Lucas’s ideas work. And there’s times where he does just that and times when he doesn’t. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

The first and third Indiana Jones films centered around Christian mythology, which worked tremendously. In part, that’s because people are somewhat familiar with the artifacts (the Ark and the Grail, respectively). The second film, Temple of Doom, centered around… uh… I don’t really remember. I kind of mentally checked out during that flick about the time they started eating monkey brains. EWW. (Harrison Ford was doing Fear Factor in the 80s, kids!) I do remember that tan dude pulling that other tan dude’s heart out of his chest. But I digress. Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls also features a religious artifact (Incan, I believe) as the basis for the story, but from there… the story just kind of goes to new levels of ridiculous. Without giving anything away, I will say that when I found out the secret of the skull (which is hinted at EARLY into the film. EARLY.) I felt like I was watching scenes from another movie spliced in. I moved past it, but the story doesn’t really jive with the concept of Indiana Jones, and it is very disconcerting at times.

The actual writer did pretty well over all. The one complaint I had, particularly through the first half, was that many times it felt like this movie was someone’s bad impression of what they think an Indy movie is. Like, there’s plenty of classic Indy-isms present. Like how he spontaneously comes up with long speeches about ancient cultures which miraculously end up the keys to solving and ancient text which allows him to blah blah blah seemingly out of nowhere. And how he miraculously is ALWAYS in the right place at the right time for some one in a billion accident which leads to a discovery which unearths something thats has eluded humanity for thousands of years. And lets not forget his rapscallion charm, which allows him to bed anything with panties and a set of sweater puppies (and I suspect that annoying Indian kid from Temple of Doom) no matter how bad he’s fucked up. None of those things are complaints. Its one of the reasons why we love Indiana Jones. But here it feels kind of forced from time to time. But after a while, you forget most of that, and suddenly you’re lost in another Indiana Jones adventure. (HIGHLIGHT THE FOLLOWING TEXT FOR SPOILERS) that is until the aliens show up.

The Casting

Let me just say that I don’t dislike Shia Lebouef (although I do hate his name. seriously, WTF?). I don’t think he ruined Transformers. And I actually liked him in Hellblazer… err, Constantine. But the thing is, (spoiler text, highlight) he just isn’t the kind of guy I could see as Indiana Jones’ son. He wasn’t horrible. Just not that great a choice. I think they just wanted some young, hot Hollywood face. Similarly, I think Cate Blanchett was a poor choice as the villain. It’s not that she didn’t do a good job. But during the first scene in the film, her put-upon Russian/ Ukraine accent is noticeably missing several times when she speaks. It’s distracting. At the VERY least they should have re-shot it.

And of course, if you were waiting for a Sean Connery cameo, prepare to be disappointed. He is mention several times, though. And they show you a picture of him. Not that it makes up for anything.

But the one great piece of casting news is the return of Karen Allen as Marion. The whole audience cheered when she first appeared on screen. Also a lot of the old Indy screen chemistry sort of flooded into the film as suddenly as she came back into Jones’ life. Their chemistry is a large part of what made the film satisfying. I which I could say her and Shia Leboeuffee (HOW DO YOU SPELL IT????) also had chemistry. But for two people who are supposed to be mother and son, I got the distinct impression these were two people who met in an elevator. Nevertheless, she was great. And to be honest with you, that is one cougar I wouldn’t mind stuffing and mounting.

Harrison Ford

They didn’t ignore the fact that Ford is old. So is Indy. They acknowledge the fact that he can’t do things as easily as he used to. But he still does them. I was doubtful at first, but it was all there. That old Indy magic. Ford did an awesome job at making me believe in heroes once again.

The Final Analysis

As I said, this is a flawed film… one that sadly could have been fixed with a little script polishing (and a lot less George “I’ve got a fantastic idea! We can make it better!” Lucas). But the bottom line is, every time I heard that horn section playing DUN-DU-DUN-DUH! DUN-DU-DUHN! … my heart raced and my face lit up. And I was more than satisfied with the ending. If that’s the way Henry Jones, Jr. goes out, with his lady on his arm and his trademark fedora on head… I’m okay with that. And even after all these years…

I still want to be Indiana Jones.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Heather on May 23, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Reading your movie review makes me want to go see it even more. Hopefully going out this weekend to watch.

    Love ya, take care,


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