Thursday, May 29, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Dentures

I took the family out last night to watch the new Indy film (that is my photoshop handywork by the way... it occured to me though that I could have just left Harrison Ford's face in there to get the same effect). As you can see I did have a problem or two with the movie but I also enjoyed it quite a bit. The main and obvious problem was getting used to the idea of an "old" Indiana Jones. The movie takes place in 1957, so Indy is supposedly 21 years older than he was in Raiders. I will admit that after the first scene Harrison really got back into part and you mostly forget that he's an old fart. Marrion Ravenwood on the other hand really failed to come close to the younger, tougher Marrion of Raiders. It isn't that she looks older (which she very much does), she just didn't act the part as well... and there were a couple scenes where they are both just acting goofy (the scene where they first meet... hhhhhhhhhhh... ) and not at all in character. You could say that people change as they get older, but Indiana Jones as do most icons has certain character traits that define him and should really NEVER change.

The premise of the movie is no more far fetched than any of the other three films so you won't hear me once complain about the plot. It was actually about on par with the first three movies and from a plot perspective I was very pleased and indeed entertained. The effects were well done but hard to get used to... I had the same trouble with watching the Starwars prequels because it is obviously a completely new world when it comes to movie effects and when the originals were made, stop motion capture was the device inspired directors used to bring fantasy to life. This movie was (aside from the afore mentioned stumbling blocks) pure Indiana Jones though. Exhilarating chase scenes, exaggerated natural dangers and of course lots of BAD guys are all incorporated into every Indy movie and this one does not lack. The supernatural/religious theme which features in the previous three films though is now replaced with an alien theme, but it works the same and just as effectively. Again the biggest thing that feels different with this one is that it takes place in a newer more modern world, but it still works I think.

So 4 out of 5 stars for me. It is worth seeing in theaters, but you might try catching it on a week night at AMC since you only have to pay $5 a ticket.


The Unabashed Blogger said...

Cool, I can't wait to see it! Er, I mean I still have to wait to see it. I just got done watching the original trilogy.
My question to you: Out of the originals, which movie does this remind you of the most? Raiders? Doom? or Crusade?

Percussivity said...

Hmmm... I guess I would say it reminded me more of Last Crusade since it takes place in a lot of different locales and has of the four movies the biggest focus on his teaching side). Raiders was mostly in Egypt and Temple of Doom was mostly in India. Also the mood is lighter than the first two movies and there is more what I would call silliness (and number three had some of that with the Henry Jones Sr. character). There is nothing remotely as graphic as the Nazi's melting at God's wrath in Raiders or the heart being ripped out of the guy's living chest in Temple of Doom. There is one CGI scene that I guess is a little graphic of a Russian dying in a rather painful way (one of the 'exaggerated' natural obstacles... reminiscent of The Mummy's scarab beetle scene), but only Rene shut her eyes for that scene... Nathan thought it was cool.

The Unabashed Blogger said...

I was hoping you were not going to say it was more "temple of doom"-ish. That was a pretty terrible movie. The only saving grace was it was an Indiana Jones movie. I mean, that mine shaft scene with the carts... pathetic.

Raiders was the best. I wonder why they embrace the silliness so much?

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

I was wondering how they would do the series without the Nazi foil...I was hopeful (and apparently they did do this?) that they'd play up the Soviet bad guy thing.

I don't know if I've ever watched Temple of Doom all the way through, does it also incorporate Nazi baddies?

One problem I could see with it is the stylistic changes when you change decades like this. Indiana Jones was a great 1930s character, do the fedora and general atmosphere seem out of place in the late 50s?

He should have run into James Bond. WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE!

Percussivity said...

Yeah they really played up the cold war aspect of the period. It did feel different obviously but the fact that Indy is living in a more modern world doesn't change the way he operates among the ruins of the ancient world for example. There is one VERY coldwar-esque scene where Indy escapes a weapons test in a very unlikely but clever way.

Percussivity said...

Oh and as for Temple of Doom... it actually is a prequal of sorts as it takes place prior to Raiders of the Lost Ark even though the movie does not indicate the year. It does not involve Nazis at all but rather a group of evil cultists in India.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

I heard about the nuke blast. Unlikely but clever sounds is a good (albeit perhaps a bit generous) way of putting it...lining a fridge with lead to escape a nuclear blast? As if radiation poisoning were the only thing to worry about as an A-bomb goes off?

No, but seriously, I haven't seen the scene, just heard other people ranting about it.

Percussivity said...

Well you do have to suspend reality a bit... I mean it is an adventure/fantasy after all. The interior of a giant space slug would not likely have its own atmosphere/gravity well and be unaffected by the vacuum of space to which it was exposed, but that doesn't stop me from loving every moment of Empire Strikes Back.

Ben said...

Mike - I was actually looking forward to your thoughts on this film. When I saw it I walked out extremely disappointed. Lucas talked recently in interviews that he expects people to not like it because you cannot meet the high expectations of people waiting 20 years for a film...and he obviously is speaking from his Star Wars experience with the prequels.

I was uncomfortable with the age thing and the acting just seemed to take a bit to work for me...even with Ford. You nailed it with Karen Allen and the scene where they meet up. I was the Revenge of the Sith scene with Anakin on the balcany with Padme...silly dialogue and bad acting. This part made the movie feel like a really bad sitcom reunion show ala Brady Bunch circa 1988 or something...know what I mean?

There was something amiss for me with it. I couldn't figure it out when I walked out until I got in the car and talked about it with the fellas I saw it with. I remembered how this movie has been in the making for roughly 15 years. If you've followed this process over that time, you might remember the script disagreements and the back and forths between Ford, Lucas and Spielberg. The difference this time around from the other flicks is that Ford had more say in the production aspect and input...more leverage. I wonder if this had anything to do with how I felt about it. The guys I saw it with felt like it was a "script by committee". I dunno fer sure...but I was disappointed.

Now here's the kicker...I saw it a second time and actually liked it a lot better...go figure. :)

Great review my fellow Star Wars/Indy/Sci-Fi geek friend! I'm going with a 3 out of 5 stars. If I hadn't seen it the second time...I would've gone 1 1/2 out of 5. Good thing I don't do this professionally.


Percussivity said...

I probably would have felt that way too, but to be honest, after Phantom Menace I've decided to go into any sequal/prequel (especially of a loved film) with zero expectations.

I had no expectations for this film and because of that I actually had a pretty good time. It was funny because in my mind I was fully prepared to see a movie like The Mummy with Brandon Frazier... and when I saw the "army ant" scene I almost laughed out loud it was so similar to the scarab beetles.