Monday, May 26, 2008

Indy IV was...well..

Okay. Just...okay.

I did not expect "RAIDERS", but I did expect something that was at least as strong as "TEMPLE OF DOOM". In that regard, I was disappointed. There were some nice moments, but all in all, the movie seemed forced.

Shia LeBeof may have been the best thing in the movie.

Karen Allen seemed as though she was doing an appearance at a Sci-Fi show.

Ford seemed to be playing INDY as if he were older rather that just letting it happen as a result of FORD himself being older.

I could list many more things that bothered me, but I'll stick to just a few:


I understand the move to a sci-fi theme since the movie takes place in the B-movie laden 1950s and I didn't think I would mind, but as it turns out, losing the supernatural element really hurt the movie for me. I don't think it undercut the other films, it just didn't play to the emotions. The original 3 Indy films built off of three of the world's major religions. The foundational concepts are pretty well known to a lot of people. The Ark, the Grail and to a lesser degree the Shankara Stones oF TEMPLE OF DOOM had a basis in history and legend.

The Crystal Skull scenario is such a loose plot device, that everything the movie builds around it is the PUREST fiction. It builds to no anticipated climax, because there is no foundation or context to build on. Even Indy himself looks at the titular crystal skull at one point and says, "What is this thing?"

In the previous outings, it was always Indy who had at least somewhat of an idea about the scope of what he was involved with.

It was like watching Batman say, "oh my goodness, what do I do next?" Indy's lack of knowledge just didn't fit the character and made him seem intellectually incapable of dealing with the situations at hand, beyond throwing a punch, or swinging from his whip.

Try this on for size - INDIANA JONES IS...SMART... REALLY smart!

Next- Mutt Williams is Tarzan in this film or at least the filmakers would have us think so. The Monkey / Vine sequence was beyond silly and went even further to pull me out of a movie I couldn't get connected to.

Did I mention Karen Allen's phoned-in performance?

The flying saucer buried under the ancient ruins was.. um...anti-climactic, but I guess Spielberg and Ford had to let Lucas keep one saucer in the pic as they wouldn't relent to making the movie George wanted to make. Looking at a synopsis of the early INDIANA JONES AND THE SAUCER MEN FROM MARS script, I think it would have been a better movie if that script had been produced rather than the Crystal Skull amalgam.

The crystal skull, a flying saucer, the A-bomb test and a wedding are about all that survived from that script. It was a bit silly, but it seemed more fun in that the alien angle was more upfront and not treated as some great mystery that was obvious to everyone in the movie EXCEPT Indy.

I have two more issues - grave yard guards and Maya warriors that hide inside temple walls. Where did these people come from? Who were they. There was almost no exposition to explain their presence except a legend about undead guards. Were they undead? Who knows? They came and went without a word.

How many times do the heroes need to go over a water fall in order to outdo all the previous waterfall scenes in an Indy film? Apparently THREE in rapid succession. At least they fell out of the "boat" on the third one!

There was a nice subtext about the loss of Henry Jones Sr. and Marcus Brody, but then we get the head of Marcus' statue in the lap of a villain. Please tell me why.

OKAY...that was more than a few, but once I started, I couldn't seem to stop. I feel bad too, because complainers drive me nuts!

So... was there anything TO like? Yes, there was quite a bit.

The opening was fun. The warehouse scene was pretty good. I thought Kate Blanchett's character was well done. The A-bomb test was good and a great way to lock the era in the mind of the viewer. Ford LOOKED pretty good. And of course there was Shia. The wedding was okay, but Indy should have put the hat on Mutt's head as he left the church.

Overall the movie I said at the begining...okay.

I think maybe on subsequent DVD viewings it'll hold up better...I hope.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hooray for Hollywood!

As a family we've had four movies in our viewing sights for a while now. We've seen three of them so far and I don't recall being so pleased with three new movies viewed in such close proximity.

First up was Iron Man which was a true winner. Robert Downey Jr. was BORN to play Tony Stark onscreen. The tale of a decadent captain of industry who realizes that life should mean just a little bit more, played true to the super hero genre in a way that few films have. We had a blast at this one.

Next was an early screening of Speed Racer at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. This movie almost lost me during the comical race / battle near the mid-point. Viking race car drivers!? Yet, by the end, I was won over by this positive movie about a strong family who looks out for each other against organized evil. There is an amazing amount of emotion and excitement at the film's conclusion that overcame the films crazy 3-D cartoon context and left us all exhilarated.

Finally, yesterday, we saw Prince Caspian, which for me was a better movie than the previous Narnia screen adventure: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The new movie had a great amount of (bloodless) violence with large marching armies and so came closer to The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy in look and style. Based on one of the Narnia books I've never read, I understand the script took a few more liberties than the last film, but, since I didn't know any better going in, I loved every minute of it. It hit me on many levels, both emotionally and spiritually. Perhaps my favorite line of dialogue was, "Do you see him, now?" This was the only film of the three I've mentioned that actually brought tears to my eyes a few times.

And now, the family is waiting for INDY IV which opens next week. Will we go 4 for 4?

I'll let you know...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

He deserves a star...

Back in my post about the Wolfman remake currently in production I mentioned classic horror makeup genius Jack Pierce.

If you've ever seen any of the old Universal Studios horror films from the 30's and 40's you've seen Jack Pierce's work:

- Karloff as Frankenstein's Monster

- Lugosi as Dracula

- Chaney as the Wolfman

- Rains as the Invisible Man

Pierce designed all these makeups and thus created images that remain iconic until this day. His visuals continue to permeate our culture through myraid media forms. He left his mark on us all.

There is an online petition to get Jack Pierce a star on Hollywood Blvd. I think he deserves the recognition.

Here's the link to sign:

Jack Pierce Star