Break your mother’s back

I finally took some time to watch Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Apparently some people really dislike this movie or something? I can safely say those people are nuts.

See? Elderly Indy is not amused by your antics.

I don’t feel particularly compelled to write up a full review on this one, because honestly, what’s the point? It was exactly what an Indiana Jones movie should be: A straightforward, unpretentious, all-ages-friendly action movie whose lightweight script is carried largely by the brisk pacing, the character interplay and perfectly-timed delivery of dialogue. It is neither as spot-on brilliant as Raiders of the Lost Ark nor as funny as The Last Crusade, but it was fun. Entertaining. This is a series patterned after 15-minute Saturday morning serials — High Art is is not. It is low art, and a very effective example at that. As it should be!

It was also admirably light on cheeky self-referentialism. I think the creators realized that the franchise is a deeply-ingrained part of American pop culture by now, to the point where glib references to the original trilogy have been beaten into submission by bottom-feeders like Family Guy. Of course, certain motifs are repeated, like the opening fade from the Paramount logo into a similar live shot, but those are traditions. Rather than beat viewers over the head with endless jokes about the older movies, Kingdom affirms its connection to its roots by looking like an Indiana Jones movie. It lacks the glossy, computer-rendered sheen of modern Hollywood, using CG sparingly, and generally only for elements that would have looked just as fake with old-fashioned optical effects. (Let’s be honest — Belloq’s exploding head looked dumb even back then.) The colors, the lighting, the cinematography, even foley effects like the distinct gunshot crack of a punch to the jaw — all pitch-perfect. It’s a pleasant diversion of a movie that works even outside the context of the franchise, but is all the more enjoyable for respecting its history in defiance of contemporary action-flick standards.

In other words, it was the opposite of the Star Wars prequels. And blissfully so! Anyone who expected something more clearly doesn’t understand what Indiana Jones is about.

Edit: Apparently this post has made people very angry, and I feel awful for turning Indiana Jones into something divisive. It should be a uniter! A reason for mankind to come together in love and happiness. Oh well.

25 thoughts on “Break your mother’s back

  1. the distinct gunshot crack of a punch

    Whoa! I KNEW there was something about that specific sound effect, but I couldn’t pin it down. I probably didn’t know (or remember) that it was a series’ staple. It’s a very solid, satisfying sound, isn’t it? It made the major fistfight in the movie all the more intense, and even reminded me of the tremendous beating Indy took on that conveyor belt in Temple.

  2. Technically, I think it’s made with a baseball bat, but it’s still a series standard. The audio design was really excellent, aside from a few spots where the score was a little energetic for the on-screen action. (Something John Williams seems to do a lot of in his old age.)

  3. Couldn’t have said it better myself, so i’m just gonna ctrl-c and then ctrl-v that when Crystal Skull hits home video.

  4. I thought the movie was really fun, but the last fifteen minutes kinda blew my mind in a bad way.

  5. I think it all depends on what you expected and a lot of people when to the cinema with the same frame of mind as they did with the Star Wars prequels, which was “I’m going to be blown away”, “This is going to change my life”, “This is going to become my favorite movie of all time”. I’m a huge Indy fan, but I simply kept away from the hype and went into the movie with the same expectation as i did with National Treasue 2. I was let down by either.

    Movies you watched as a kid become engrained into your psyche, and as a child you iron out the faults and fill up the plot holes because you have a lot of free time to play out those stories with your imagination. As a adult we spend less time with everything, consuming movies, music, games at such a fast rate that we need instant gratification. How many movies did you watch this month? When you were 8, how long would it have took to watch the same about of movies?

  6. Actually, this was the first time I’ve been to the movies since early March.

  7. Yeah, I don’t know where all the hate comes from. Like you said, it’s just another Indy movie, and delievered exactly that. Nothing more, nothing less.

  8. I might talk more on this in the forums later but I just saw this movie as well and I have to disagree. The script for Kingdom was just completely awful. There are some fun scenes and good one liners but the plot was just a mess and not in a fun way. It’s definitely better than Temple of Doom but that isn’t saying much.

  9. I was reading some illustrated script for Raiders and when I got to the sketch captioned, “Belloq’s head explodes”, I thought “Ohhh, so that’s what that was.”

  10. I thought the movie’s writing was akin to the first star wars trilogy and that’s what brought it down from how good it would’ve been otherwise. The movie wasn’t bad but it had some pretty stupid filler, like the useless car race during the opening. I found the movie had a good mix of Indiana Jones and a weird mix of extras, just like Star Wars.

    There were a few interesting references I noticed a lot of people not getting, like when they flew around in South America and above the Iquito region (the Indians in RotLA).

  11. “lightweight script” may be the most generous opinion I’ve ever seen parish offer about anything, ever, but only because “It lacks the glossy, computer-rendered sheen of modern Hollywood, using CG sparingly” is an outright lie.

  12. The most common complaint I hear about this is the ending. But you should step back and ask yourself is what happens at the end of KOTCS any more ridiculous than opening up the Ark and having your face melted off?

    The presentation may have been more grand, but the concepts are on a similar (outlandish) level. I suppose you might relate to what happened at the opening of the Ark more if you’re a religious person, but that’s not a viewpoint I can empathise with.

    Indy 4 was a fun, well made Indiana Jones movie.

  13. Guys, you need to shut your brains OFF for a movie like this. Don’t THINK about it.

  14. The FBI agents hopped onto the same train as Indy. I assumed he climbed out the window while the train was still building up steam, and they didn’t. So they ended up far, far away.

  15. Sarcasmorator hit the nail on the head with his simple comment. It’s a movie people. It’s entertainment. This is not some archeology documentary. When you go to see a movie like this you really do need to turn off the logic part of you brain if you expect to get any enjoyment from it.

  16. I never really watched Indian Jones as a kid so I didn’t really have any expectations going in.

    I liked parts of it, but I really thought the end part with the aliens was horridly goofy.

  17. Hooray! I’m just so happy to find someone with whom I don’t have to justify my affection for this movie. All I wanted was to see Harrison Ford being Indiana Jones, and darnit, I got that. And I saw it at a drive-in, to boot! Can’t beat that combination.

  18. While I generally agree with you, Parish, it’s still worth noting that, while they generally got the “feel” of the movie right, little things like pointless CG prarie dogs kept pulling me out of that feeling.

    Ah well, I enjoyerd it enough to overlook that.

  19. The whole “just shut your brain off and enjoy it” quote can be quite a slippery slope when talking about any form of media. Should I just turn my brain off and enjoy the drivel that the mainstream radio wants me to enjoy? How about just putting aside the fact that it’s absolutely atrocious and just kick back and enjoy Beverly Hills Chihuahua? While I think there’s a big difference between the last movie and anything Indiana Jones related (namely the fact that it’s not absolutely fucking AWFUL), you gotta be careful about just ignoring everything problematic in the sake of fun. That’s not to say that I haven’t done it myself (Case and Point: Rambo 4), nor that Parish is doing that, but you can’t just hand out a “get out of criticism free” card willy-nilly.

    I haven’t seen the movie and I’m not arguing either way for it, so please don’t take this rant as my trying to shoot down everything you love. I’m sure I would have enjoyerd it as much as the rest of you.

  20. Supposedly there was a lot of debate over a script during the making. They went through several different versions and rewrites and they settled on something involving extra terrestrials? The dialog and action sequences were well done, but aliens at the core of the plot? That’s where they lost me…

  21. I don’t know what movie you were watching, but the one I saw had lots of fake CGI in it.

  22. Ilchymis: I think you’re taking my comment way too seriously.

    Besides, I wasn’t saying “shut off your brain forever so you’ll enjoy all media regardless of quality.” I’m just saying that “Crystal Skull,” like most action movies and ALL Indy movies, doesn’t stand up well to a lot of scrutiny because it’s NOT MEANT TO. If you are picking apart a shameless B-movie action extravaganza then you are Doing It Wrong.

  23. I’ve never said you should turn off your brain, and I wish you people would stop putting that phrase in my mouth. It’s rude. What I am saying is that you should view the movie in the spirit in which it was intended to be seen — uncomplicated entertainment. None of the four movies are without their problems. Who cares? This was an enjoyable action romp like the first and third films, if not quite in their league, and it was nice to see an old childhood favorite revived without being desecrated. The existence of this movie doesn’t detract from my fondness for Indy at all, unlike, say, the Star Wars prequels. Harrison Ford wore a fedora for two hours, and it wasn’t edited or scripted as badly as Temple of Doom. That is more than good enough for me.

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