thanks to slow workplaces before the long weekend, joe and i made it to the ziegfeld on friday for an early indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull fix and were on our way home by a quarter after six. he asked me what i thought and i complained that i always have to go first: what did he think?
he thought it was EXECRABLE. that's a tough descriptor to sell in casual conversation unless you're gore vidal, but joe pulled it off: he oozed so much contempt for that movie that a word coined after 1800 just wouldn't do. he (like a lot of reviewers) loved the first fifteen minutes or so, but he hated shia labeouf. and the CGI. and the silly close encounters sequence at the end.* it was so execrable he was almost angry.
i'm...not, even though i don't really disagree. were i a monkey in the 1950's, there's no way i'd fight with shia labeouf the greaser, even against communists, even if i had been computer-generated by spielberg's personal monkeys. i hate almost all alien storylines, which is why i find the x files both wonderful and terrible (i love monsters-of-the-week and david duchovny and can take or leave the show's a-plot). thing is, indiana jones isn't meant for me. there was a young kid sitting behind us in the theater who kept piping up to his dad (and pissing me off): "why are they chasing him? what do you think's in that box? look at that!" i was going to be the mean old lady who shushed him, but i probably whispered the same things when i was ten, seeing the last crusade with my mom. i adored that movie, but i'm not sure it was umpteen times better than this one was: as many have noted, spielberg makes films for kids. i think raiders of the lost ark holds up over time, sort of, but have you seen temple of doom, complete with kate capshaw shrieking like betty boop every ten seconds, in the last decade or so? harrison ford has never really been able to act, and there have always been weird critter sequences and ridiculous side-by-side set pieces (the patch of street outside our apartment is rougher than both the jungle paths in crystal skull and the mine car tracks in raiders of the lost ark). sometimes the ridiculousness works: i giggled with delight at the motorcycle chase across the college campus early in the movie, which was up there with the hiding-in-a-basket scooby doo silliness i remember from raiders. sometimes, as when cate blanchett was squishing giant ants between her sexy stalinist kneecaps, it's just ridiculous. the formulas have always been there, though, and calling spielberg out for them now is rather beside the point.
long story short, this was easily the worst of the indiana jones movies - but if you're shorter than this sign, you will think it's boss, and that's fine with me; at least we were spared kate capshaw. what did you think, o internets? give me your best gore vidal.
*per joe, the alien stuff might have worked if it had been revealed that indy himself was extraterrestrial; it would explain why harrison ford was able to avoid getting nailed by fourteen thousand soviet machine guns at once.