Friday, June 13, 2008

Indiana Jones And The Really Bad Movie

I wasn't going to do this, really I wasn't. But I'm sorry. Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull is a really bad movie. It doesn't work as nostalgia, it fails as an action movie, the sets are fakey, the effects are weak, the humor is painful, the script doesn't make a lick of sense, and I think "phoning in" is too generous a term to describe the performances. 

You can just quit reading now. I really didn't like it, and if you liked it this will just make you mad, and if you didn't like it you already know everything I'm going to say. 

There are about two minutes when Indy and Mutt are in Peru and Indy is talking about riding with Pancho Villa and he mentions Huerta and spits, and that's a great little scene, and you're thinking the movie might turn out okay. And then those two minutes are over. 

And okay, I did like the killer ants. Kudos to the filmmakers for, I'll be generous, ten minutes of entertainment.

The entire film takes place in Happy Days 1950s - even though it's 1957 and Joseph McCarthy and his anticommunist witch hunt had at that point been relegated to the dustbin of history, it's still enough to get Indy fired from his job teaching because he was kidnapped by an entire platoon of Russian spies who broke into Area 51 which is where the government keeps all its top secret stuff - just stacked into boxes without identifying marks or labels or sections - which is next door to where they test atom bombs on top of fake neighborhoods full of mannequins, cars, rugs, food, Crisco, and televisions. Televisions that are turned on, so the mannequins won't be bored. By the way, did we mention it's the 50s? Because the TV's showing Howdy Doody! Because it's the 50s! Except we have LED digital clocks counting down our rocket sled countdowns. Hey, I'll even give you leaving the rocket sled fueled, powered, and ready for a run down the rails at midnight when everybody's gone home. It's Friday, just leave the rocket fuel in there, it'll be fine! But the LED clock... why not just stop the movie and put up a big title card that says WE'RE NOT EVEN TRYING ANY MORE.

There's no 50s in this movie. There's no atom bomb paranoia, no clean shaven ad-men in charcoal suits and narrow ties and drinking problems, no Hungarian swim teams sticking it to the Russians while wearing Speedos. Just fakey sets and dank caverns full of dead Spaniards.

Apparently space aliens with crystal skeletons that are sometimes magnetic except when they're not have a giant temple filled with historical treasures they've somehow managed to steal from every civilization in every time period of the history of Earth without anybody noticing, and even though they can travel through the interdimensional spaces in their flying saucers and melt Natasha's brain with an angry look, they need a fired professor to deliver their skull to them. You know, Indiana Jones could have just stayed home, let the Russians take the skull to the space aliens and get their brains melted, and the movie would have turned out exactly the same. 

I don't even know why the Russians were looking for the magnetic alien body in Area 51 anyway - later in the film the evil Russian woman explains they have two alien bodies already. But they needed to send a platoon of killer Russian agents to kidnap Indiana Jones to find the alien body in Area 51, because even though they already have two highly magnetic alien corpses, the Russians can't figure out how to find this other one that they don't need because they already have two. 

Oh, did I spoil the movie for you? No I did not. This film comes pre-spoiled.

This is an adventure film where you can get yourself out of just about any predicament by falling. About to go over three giant waterfalls? Just go with it! Giant stone steps disappearing into the wall? Just fall down into the water! Hell, you won't even be wet in the very next scene! Just relax and let the movie take you where the movie needs you to be. Keep your head and arms inside the car at all times, and do NOT touch any of the displays.

I know it's nit-picky to say this, but a brigade of uniformed, armed Russian soldiers anywhere in South America in 1957... you know South America in the 50s, where they dealt with the Red Menace by executing anyone suspected of even knowing what socialism was? Yeah, just park that giant Russian tree-cutting-and-chipping machine right next to your brigade of armed Russian soldiers, nobody cares. Welcome to our rightwing dictatorship, comrade.

Giant Russian tree-cutting-and-chipping machine. Because they need those in the Ukraine. Helps with the harvest. Boy, you'd think a giant Russian tree-cutting-and-chipping machine would be a great place for a freewheeling up-and-down-the-chipper fistfight, huh? Yeah, you'd think so. Not in this movie. 

I swear to God the more I think about this movie the angrier I get. YES Mutt finds a platoon of monkeys with DAs who teach him to swing from vines. YES there are repeated strikes to the nuts while fencing with Evil Russian Woman jeep-to-jeep. YES Evil Psychic Russian Woman, who never really does anything evil to anybody, and in fact never demonstrates her psychic powers, and is in fact a really lame villian, mainly because of a complete failure to do anything nasty to anybody, is described as "Stalin's favorite." In 1957 being Stalin's favorite would get you assigned to somewhere a LOT less tropical than Brazil. YES Indiana Jones survives an atom bomb test inside a refrigerator. YES every single punch in this film has the SAME EXACT SOUND EFFECT. Remember that punch sound effect? Do you like it? That sound effect that produces a Pavlovian response in the pleasure centers of your brain, just like lousy comedies that replace jokes with pop culture references? Do you like that? Well, do I have a movie for you! 

I am still trying to figure out who the skull-faced blowgun firing guys were that attack Indy and Mutt in the graveyard in Peru. What are they, junkies or what? The graveyard with the sign that says "grave robbers will be shot". I guess they mean shot with blowguns, and not shot with regular guns. Can I hire skull-masked blowgun guys to hang around MY cemetery on the off-chance some gringos will show up?

Oh, and they get caught in quicksand - yes, I know the film claims it's not quicksand, but this film can SUCK IT - and they pull Indy out with a snake. And he's scared of snakes! So it's funny! So let's drag this scene out! Because he's scared of snakes! Remember? Remember those other Indiana Jones films you saw and liked? Hey, here we are in the giant warehouse where the Ark got stuck in the end of Raiders! Wow, wouldn't it be cool if we showed the Ark? Well HERE IT IS! You wanted to see it right? Aren't you happy now? Awwww, come on, you liked those OTHER movies!

Honestly, I saw the whole movie, and I still do not know who was doing what to whom, and why I should care. After seeing this film I believe a re-evaluation of both Temple of Doom and Last Crusade are in order - those films have suddenly gotten a LOT better. 

We saw this film in the drive-in, and when the movie's late starting everybody honks their horns. Listening to everybody honk was more entertaining than this film. 

Honk, honk. Honk honk-honk honk honk, honk honk.