Indiana Jones: A Thesis

Do not read if you haven’t seen this movie yet, because I am about to tell you pretty much everything that happens, and why it shouldn’t have.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a movie. At least, that is what George Lucas and Steven Spielberg would like you to believe. But in actuality it is an abomination of God. Yahweh himself would dare not speak its name, nor give it such a moniker as a “moving picture.” But if He were to name the latest Dr. Jones adventure, as if He took an extra day after His day of rest to focus on the mistakes of man, the King of Kings, the deity so loved by Mr. Lucas and Spielberg that His Ark and Grail were the foci of two of their previous works, would label Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull a “whopping cocksucker of an oopsie.”

Okay, so maybe I love hyperbole more than anyone’s loved anything ever. I apologize, to you and to Jesus, but not to the filmmakers. I just feel strongly about the situation. I call it a situation, because I feel like I have been personally attacked, like a lawsuit might be in order. There is a part of my youth – my innocence – that has been abused here, like Lucas came home drunk, placed a calloused hand over my slumbering mouth, and went “Ssshhhh…don’t tell your mother.”

I can remember seeing all three Indiana Jones movies for the first time; the first two on VHS, the third in the theater. These were very important to me then, and have not dipped in relevance since. By leaps and bounds this is my favorite film trilogy, even over the original Star Wars movies, which seemed like complete tomfoolery to my friends, but they just didn’t understand. For some reason, Indiana Jones seemed more entrenched in reality, despite the fact that his movies contained religious artifacts that melted faces, allowed hearts to be ripped out of functioning bodies, and turned people into ash in 10 seconds or less. What was more important was that Dr. Jones seemed real, like he could have been a part of a textbook. And when he went on adventures, getting pummeled along the way by the dreaded Nazis, I swore all of it was possible. Sure, the Ark of the Covenant is probably not real, and if it is, it probably can’t blow up a bad guy’s head. But when it was portrayed in the film, I never had to suspend my disbelief. Credit the filmmakers on that one. They took the idea of lampooning the goofy action serials of the 1930’s and created something real. Of course, I was a fan of Star Wars, like every other “never seen a vagina teenager,” but was there any part of it that I thought was realistic? Not even close. And here is where my problem with the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull begins.

From the beginning, I was worried that reliving this character would be a mistake. But I kept reading interviews where both Spielberg and Ford said that they wouldn’t allow George Lucas to ruin the franchise, having shot down his gawd awful ideas for nearly two decades. There was talk that he had this “fantastic” idea involving aliens, but from the start, both men weren’t falling for it. This should have been the most telling point right here. If they knew it was inane bullshit, then why did they eventually allow it to happen? I’m thinking Spielberg was a little for it, considering his work with alien stories, like E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Also, I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that he’s an avid sky watcher, hoping to catch a glimpse of an actual UFO. But whatever the actual reason for the green light, this movie was going to be made, alien plotline and all. Yes, I was hesitant about this, but the idea almost made sense after a while. The previous three movies were action movies based in the ’30’s, so with Jones now twenty years older, let’s place him in the ’50’s, when B movies took over and myths like Area 51 were popular. From action serial to alien B movie, makes sense, right? Right?!?! At least, this is what I told myself.

So, from the very beginning of the movie, when a very poor looking CGI prairie dog popped out of the ground, looking all cutesy and such, a sense of dread took over – the very same feeling that draped over my being when those aliens from The Phantom Menace sounded like extras from Enter the Dragon. I knew things weren’t going to work out then and that same feeling wasn’t going to go away this time. There were going to be moments of George Lucas brilliance all throughout this thing: Cate Blanchett’s Boris and Natasha accent; not one, not two, but THREE scenes with that gall durned prairie dog; Shia LaBeouf looking like Marlon Brando, except you know, scrawny and Jewish; the greasers and the soc’s getting into a fistfight while drinking milkshakes; Jones surviving a nuclear blast in a refrigerator that was thrown in the air a few miles (seriously, that happened); Shia getting hit in the groin by foliage while straddling two trucks speeding through a rainforest, and then, oh and then, befriending a monkey army and swinging like Tarzan on vines to come save the day once more; Indy getting stuck in quicksand, only to be saved by grabbing onto a snake and pulling to safety; and here is the big one…..a hidden temple where alien skeletons sit in a circle, looking very much like the people of the future in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. This is just a handful of the nonsense that makes up the two hours of this movie. I can’t complain about everything, so let’s just focus on the big problems.

The crystal skull: it looked like something I could buy at a yard sale. I’m pretty sure it was a lamp. If you plug it into the wall and stick your hand on it, your hair stands up!! Hours of fun for all ages!! Every time it was shown on screen, I laughed. This was supposed to be an artifact of fear, of power. This is the driving force of the entire film, like the Ark or the Grail, and all it accomplished was giving me a slight case of heartburn. But that could be blamed on the kabob I bought from some shirtless Greek guy outside the Shoe Carnival. And it wasn’t just the skull; it was the entire alien plotline. At no point did it seem real. Even Harrison Ford’s reactions to the aliens seemed out of place, like he knew this shouldn’t be happening. He looked like he was thinking, “Really? Alien corpses and flying saucers buried in Peru? Shouldn’t I be making Regarding Henry 2?” When Ford is tied down and forced to stare into the eyes of the skull, he’s supposed to be battling supernatural powers overtaking his brain; however, it actually looked like he was fighting a losing battle against his aging prostate. Which leads me to the next big problem, one I wished wouldn’t be true.

Harrison Ford: I’m sorry, but he looked old and out of place. I never saw him in the garb, especially the hat, and saw Indiana Jones. The glimmer wasn’t there. He looked like the star of Hollywood Homicide in an Indiana Jones costume. It’s a crying shame, because I really like Harrison Ford, always have. There were times when the old spark came back, like when he’s reunited with Marion. The smile he gives her could have been anywhere in Raiders of the Lost Ark. But other than that, nothing worked. His jokes fell flat, his bowtie, something that used to give him character, now just makes him look older, and worst of all, he didn’t look like he’d survive any of the action.

Further compounding that fact were the sequences that seemed far more outrageous than those in the previous films. The Indy of old never would have been blown 300 feet in the air by an atomic bomb, nor would he swing from ropes, kicking bad guys in midair like he’s in the Matrix. There were moments where he purposefully looked old, like when he misjudges a rope swing, but other than that, he’s a sexagenarian superhero, defeating communism and a weak urine flow along the way. This was a big complaint with a lot of critics, not that he takes Flomax, but that Indy seemed invincible, like he was never in any danger. You know, like a guy who can survive three separate drops from waterfalls, and, you know, a nuclear holocaust. I would have been okay with an older action star if he really came across as a 65-year old man. Simply making jokes about his age won’t cut it. You can’t say, “I’m too old for this shit,” and then have him jumping across beams on a ceiling like he’s in the Cirque du Soleil.

But just like the crystal skull, none of the action seemed real. Instead, it looked almost vaudevillian, with all the crotch shots and falls from cliffs that Goofy would have taken in a Disney cartoon. And don’t get me started on the monkey army/Tarzan scene. If I wanted to watch George of the Jungle, I’d rejoin the Brendan Fraser fan club that kicked me out in ’99 for being too “handsy.”

I have been in conflict with how awful this truly is for 24 hours now. I mean, I know for sure that it’s terrible, but HOW terrible is it really? The action doesn’t work, most of the jokes bombed, you never felt involved in the plot, etc. There was no adventure. When Indy jumps from clue to clue, it seems too easy, like he doesn’t have to work for anything. This makes the movie bad, but what makes it uber-bad is the alien plotline. I’m pretty settled on this now. Before I was questioning whether or not I had the right to say that the plot didn’t work. Indiana Jones started out dealing with out-of-this-world phenomena, so who’s to say that aliens are a tougher reach? I think it all just boils down to the fact that Indiana Jones is steeped in history, hence why he’s an archeologist. But then there’s the fact that Area 51 and alien mythology is also human created. How is it any different than religious mythology? I suppose it isn’t. Perhaps this idea could have worked. It’s just that everything came off so goofy, a little too B movie for it’s own good. Everything was campy, from the look of the skull, to the chamber with the skeletons, to the saucer that comes out of the ground, none of it seemed realistic. This is just my bias, I suppose. I can believe that a cup can take or sustain life, but I can’t believe that an alien can blow the knowledge of the universe through your eyes, causing you to turn to dust and fly away. My bad, George Lucas. I guess I just don’t get your genius.

All I know is that you’ve taken another one of your past successes, and nearly rendered it null and void. I mean, I can still watch the other three and still enjoy them, but deep down, I’ll know that these characters have a future after they ride off in the Holy Grail. Too bad it is a sappy, piece of shit world where Marion Ravenwood has a bad haircut and is apparently addicted to anti-depressants; she has a son with Indy that looks like Kinicky from Grease; and Dr. Henry Jones Jr. talks to aliens by staring at a skull. My childhood just sent me a text: Ali3nz and monKEe armies? LoLZ!!11 TiMe ta go sh00t mahself!!

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Filed under awful shit, george lucas, Indiana Jones

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