Bo Gorcesky - Associated Content from Yahoo!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Indiana Jones and that thing about the Crystal Skull (movie review)

his movie takes place in 1957 and could possibly be the fourth of the five proposed Indy films. Now before I took up this endeavor and was able to criticize it, I had my fiancée and myself recap the previous Indy films to know what we were getting into. And before you happen to catch this film, check out a quick recap of the three previous films to see what has progressed so far:

1981's Raiders of the Lost Art so an introduction to the Indy character. A proposed adventure story that was the joint brain child of Hollywood legends George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Legend has it, Spielberg was hoping to make a film similar to a James Bond picture, but Lucas claimed "I have something better." He proposed the story of an suave archeologist who is a college professor that spends his spare time plundering for artifacts and adventure. He is tempted by one legendary artifact The Art of the Covenant, a supposed "radio to God" that initially held the original Ten Commandments in it. But now there is a rival archeologist who has been employed by the Nazi's to fulfill Hitler's obsession on obtain figures of the occult. In a race against time, Indy and some comrades must discover the secret whereabouts of the Art of the Convenarnt before it falls into the wrong hands.

The film takes place in 1936 and it is primarily an homage to the action/adventurer serials of the 30's. We are also introduced to the elements of Indy: A previous relationship with the drunkard/daughter of Indy's mentor: Maryann Ravenwood, Indy has a fear of snakes, the film opens with a action packed couple scene, Indy fights an indestructible opponent who dies terribly and numerous chase scenes. In the end of the film, Indy's treasure of the Ark is locked up by the G-men somewhere in Washington and it's secrets are gone forever.

1984's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is actually produced second in the series, but is technically a prequel since it takes place in 1935. The film is different from it's predecessors since there are no Nazi's but the film is riddled with some graphic violence, creepy crawlies, great comedy relief from the little Asian sidekick "Short round," a whiney damsel in distress (who will eventually marry Steven Spiellberg), and some gore and imagery that would even appease a hardcore horror fan like a heart being ripped out of a man's chest (which helped land the film as being the very first film to be rated PG-13).

Indy travels from Shanghai to India and gets roped into saving a village and returning one of their relics (that looks like a bread shaped rock). Whereas in the previous film Indy was all about fortune and glory, he now does this for what is right and ends up creating a pseudo family unit with Willy and Short round. He was exposed to the religion of Hebrew, now it is with the Hindus. A village of children has been abducted by a mad man to help mine for two other stones for complete domination.

The film has some great chase scenes, especially in some mine carts in a crazy looking Disney ride. It has some of the grossest scenes from a dinner ensemble where you are served: Beatles on a half shell, Chilled Monkey Brains, Eyeball Soup and Snake Surprise. Or how about walking through a tunnel of bugs that crawl all over you. Definitely the creepy crawlies is a staple of the Indy series. Finally there is a bit more of a romantic side story that shows off this arrogant romantic side of Dr. Jones as he is trying to seduce Willy, but at the same time acting like the ward of the Robin-esque Short Round (P.S. if you like Goonies, Data plays the role of his qwarky little kid and anything he says is funny) "No time fow wuv Docta Jones" Ahh, racial stereotypes – where have you gone?

1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade goes back to the elements of Raiders with Nazi's, relics, chases, the occult, adventure, comedy, romance and it also has this element of a great father/son relationship between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. The filmmakers though, well, James Bond was an initial inspiration for the Indy character, why not just hire the man who helped bring it about. Sean Connery plays Henry Jones Sr. and truly makes this film very memorable. I mean, how many times are you gonna see Indy get slapped for saying "Jesus Christ," "That's for blasphemy Junior!" Hehehe, classic.

This film is set in 1938 and Spielberg comments on it as "making up to Lucas for what they did to Temple of Doom." They return to a lot of the hardcore action/adventure stuff, but with a lot of side comedy between father and son. The Nazi's play a perfect movie villain, and the hunting for the Holy Grail has been an adventure quest from the days of King Arthur.

Personally, this is my favorite in the series just solely based on the father/son dynamic, the return of the Nazi's as antagonists, returning John Rhys-Davies as Salla and even bringing in the dim-witted Marcus Brody for the adventure.

Indy is eventually able to find the Holy Grail, and like the film's predecessors of Indy being exposed to the religions of Hebrew, then Hindu – it is now a focus on Christianity. Using his father's notes, a lure of all of his teachings and studies – he is able to find the Grail and save his father with it. Unfortunately the Grail falls into a chasm and the Indy character is still obsessed with finding and obtaining the relic. But it takes of all people, Henry Sr., to tell Indy "Junior – let it go." A great film and a lot of fun, and in my opinion it should be the end of the series. I mean once you get the Holy Grail – how can you go any further?

And now, without further ado…….

2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull returns Indy to the screen after a near 20 year hiatus from the cinema. Like I said before, the film takes place in 1957 – which would make the Indy character 58 years old but is played by Harrison Ford who is 65. Now, I have a LOT of willing suspension of disbelief (which is the fuel for basically any geek that enjoys comics, cartoons, fantasy or professional wrestling) but there is just some elements that even I have a hard time swallowing. Here is just a brief list (SOME SPOILERS AHEAD):

1) An atomic bomb goes off in a town, Indy climbs into a lead lined fridge, which flies high up into the sky, rolls and crashes into the desert landscape and Indy rolls out. 2) While in a high speed chase through the Amazon, people swashbuckler on top of their cars. 3) Commanding an army of monkeys that swing through the Amazon and attack the Communists. 4) Finally and most sad, is seeing this rather old Indy doing things he did years ago. And I love Harrison Ford, and growing up I think he was just a hero for a lot of kids during that era – but seeing him now, I felt like "Hey Indy, I think it's time to hang up the fedora and whip."

There were some other scenes that were just a little hard to swallow, but I'd have to say the film overall was quite enjoyable. A brief plot: Filling in the role that the Nazi's had, we now have "the Reds" hunting down some infamous crystal skulls that can help fill you up with unlimited knowledge. The film opens up at Area 51 and we see there is a connection with Roswell and the alien crash landing to our picture, and we also have a brief cameo of the Ark of the Covenant as it's crate is slightly bust open.

Indy is criticized for helping the Commies, and loses his job as a professor at his college. He befriends a young greaser - Mutt (played by Transformers Shia Lebouf) – yeah I know? Mutt?! But why now, Indy was also named after a dog. So, Mutt needs Indy's help to help rescue Indy's former classmate /archeologist "Ox" who knows of the current whereabouts of the greatest of the Crystal Skulls.

Mutt and Indy hunt down the whereabouts of Ox and an infamous Conquistador who found El Dorado, the Lost City of Gold, in the 15th century. They find his tomb, get the skull and will eventually get trapped by the Commies who are holding Ox prisoner – but also Maryanne Ravenwood –who is also the mother of Mutt and we later discover that Mutt is the son of Indy. Eventually the crew of explorers goes through some chases after chases and will eventually discover the Lost City of Gold. Inside, we learn that Aliens had educated the Mayans centuries ago, their bodies were made out of crystal, and the Crystal Skull is actually the skull of one of the thirteen alien ambassadors who were archeologists themselves. Yeah, I know it is too much to hear right now. In the end of the film, El Dorado and the aliens are transported to an inter-dimensional portal. Indy and Marryanne finally rekindle their relationship and get married. The fedora rolls up to Mutt's feet and we think he is to be the predecessor until Indy takes it back with a smile and struts out of the church.

Mutt very well be the predecessor of the series as Lucas is already starting a rumor mill for a fifth film where Indy would play the sidekick and Mutt would be the main action star. It is the end of the era already seeing Indy going out there, but now I feel like where the third film had the father son dynamic, this film has the roles reversed. In fact, there is even ANOTHER scene on a motorcycle where Mutt evades the Commies and smiles – but Indy scowls at him. Very similar to when Henry Sr. and Jr. are escaping Austria – Indy causes one of them to crash, he smiles and daddy is scowling at him.

Finally, if you are an Indy completist – such as myself, you should check this picture out. Again, there are some elements that are a little hard to swallow – but Indy is such a great character. I think if you enjoy the elements of Batman and/or James Bond, or even some action/adventure/sci-fi fan, you will enjoy this film. I also recommend you go out and buy the the Adventures of Young Indiana Jones to see where Indy came from before his cinematic adventures, it is a great show and very educational. Check it out, it is the first great film of the summer season.

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