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.


Meg said...

See, I loved it, and I was expecting to hate it. I mean, the alien stuff was awful, but it was short, and I could ignore it. David liked it too, and we're usually the super critical movie duo. For the record, I love all the Indiana Jones movies (formulas and all) and I still watch them. So, I think I sort of watched it with my 10 year old hat on, but that doesn't stop the hating (see: Star Wars 1-3).

I just thought it was a good formulaic Indiana Jones movie, with stupid stupid Aliens. I was calling stuff before it happened mind you "Snakes! We need snakes!" but as it goes with Indiana Jones, I was delighted each time a formula delivered.

And it's good to see Hollywood showing us that you can still rock (hard) at 65. No one has mentioned much about how great that was, or how great it was to see a bad *ss, sexy, 50ish heroine.

Meg said...

And to Joe, Indy never gets hit with machine gun fire. It's just part of the deal.

Ma said...

Doug and I saw it yesterday afternoon using tickets I'd only paid $6.50 for...I'm not sure I'd use a word as hardline as 'execrable', but we were both pretty disappointed. We were pissed that we'd bothered to stand in a line for 1/2 hour and glad we hadn't paid full price. And whereas I gladly would (and do) watch the earlier movies again, I won't bother with this one. (We had actually watched 'Temple of Doom' last week, since I'd never seen it, and even that was better, Capshaw-screaming and all. The whole alien thing was just a bad idea.

Harrison Ford looked old (hell, he is old), and when they showed the photograph of Sean Connery on his desk early on it only emphasized how much sexier S.C. is at an even older age.
I'm with you on the motorcycle chase (and have always loved the basket scene in 'Raiders')....but, hey, you started out early with this stuff, Lau: you saw 'Raiders' at a drive in when you were 2.

babyjo said...

I attended a midnight screening last wednesday and will admit that i was pretty disappointed with the film. the first 30-45 minutes were entertaining, sure, but i thought the only new scene that felt like the old movies was the nuclear testing site sequence with the refrigerator hide-out. i read an article or two that mentioned how audiences should be more understanding of the plot line -- why should nazis and the power of God be more believable than KGB agents and aliens? -- but i'm just not convinced. however, it is nice to know that alien mind power burns the ocular cavities first, just like the man upstairs.

my favorite part of the evening was easily when a friend of mine, dressed in a full indiana jones costume, stood up at the end of the movie and said "what the f*ck was THAT?"

also: i am embarassed that i share a birthday with shia labeouf. but since i was born first and thus closer to when the original movies were released, i win.

tom said...

"sexy stalinist kneecaps"

Musta been some awe-inspiring kneecaps. Alluring, yet brutal. So: lotsa tar, and stragetically placed feathers?

sara said...

i've heard so many bad reviews by now that i'm saving my $11 for gas money! perhaps when it comes to video i'll netflix it...

lauren said...

ah, sara, but that's one thing about indiana jones movies that can never change, quality control be damned: they should always be seen on the big screen! i almost never shell out for seeing something in the theater, and i'd have plunked down for this one even if...if...it starred mischa barton. or audrey hepburn. together, even!

@tom: no, but i'm confident she could've rocked that look, too. as the fug girls noted the other day re: her questionable appearance at the indy premiere, [S]he's standing there quietly transcending it, like she does with everything she wears: "Yeah, I'm awesome-looking. And talented. I could be wearing a mother'f'ing disco bathrobe and it wouldn't matter. Wait, I am? Whatever. Have you seen my skin?"

Hannah said...

Best part about seeing the movie was knowing what these two little kids were talking about on the bus the next day:

brother (about 9 years old): "I thought the aliens were pretty unbelievable as a plot twist, but you know, they pulled it off. They really pulled it off."

sister (about 10): "Yeah."

And I did like Karen Allen. But I would happily trade every single real Indiana Jones movie for this remake:


made by actual kids in the 80's shot in order so you see them grow up over the course of the movie oh man it is so great! I saw it at a film festival here in SF, filmmakers in person, and smiled so hard the whole time that my face hurt.

tangodeltagolf said...

Thought it was third-best in the Indiana Jones pantheon, if only because time, subsequent viewings, and 80's-kid nostalgia blind us to how cheesy Temple of Doom really was.

I'd blame Lucas for most of the failings of this one, more than Spielberg. Lucas shared the story credits with Jeff Nathanson (of Rush Hour 2 & 3 and Speed 2 fame!) and that's where I thought the movie was weakest (he was also on as exec producer, with Spielberg minion Kathleen Kennedy). David Koepp's screenplay, as far as went for technical execution, was adequate, if not stellar. Despite that, the movie did a reasonably creditable job of wrapping up the franchise (bringing the father-son theme from the last movie full circle, and having Indiana finally make an honest woman out of Marion three movies later, I thought were decent touches).

It's the basic story, which ripped-off every 1950s (nuclear paranoia! McCarthyism! Rebel without a clue!) and aliens (Chariot of the Gods! Stargate!) formula that Lucas could sneak past the legal department, that had me imagining the pitch-meeting while the movie was playing. Spielberg may have gotten the popcorn butter-flavoring in his veins ever since inventing the weekend blockbuster with Jaws in 1975, but subsequent outings have earned him his spurs many times over (Schindler's List and Private Ryan are a little too grim to make the point, but even ET and Minority Report engaged enough gray matter to be memorable). Lucas' high water mark was Star Wars in 1977, when he was still just a scrappy tech-geek and Nor-Cal quasi-indie oddball with a new and unproven idea that caught on. The following decades have not spoken as well of George's creative talents, the last 3 Star Wars movies offered as evidence, and have given the impression that he's engaged in nothing so much as a long-running quest to license more and more toys, which is, after all, how he got rich off of Star Wars in the first place.

Amanda said...

Hi, you seem awesome. But no RSS feed? What am I going to do?

lauren said...

@Amanda: ...be heartened by the fact that i just now sprouted a feed (upper right, below ye olde champ status log)? no, i'm getting ahead of myself; i probably added that code all wrong. hey, internets: if i did that right and it...feeds you at some point, let me know so i can congratulate myself!

sara said...

check! it works like a ... champ! congratulations!