Saturday, November 21, 2009

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” – National Treasure 3; The Truth is Out There

I’m about to completely trash and ruin this movie. Is that a good enough spoiler warning for you? This movie was mindless action and was, in fact, entertaining, so stop reading now if you intend on seeing this film with some hope of enjoyment. I’m not kidding. Stop now.

Was anybody truly looking forward to this movie? It wasn’t like Star Wars, where everybody was anticipating the prequels. The last Indiana Jones movie was called “The Last Crusade” and that wasn’t an accident. It was supposed to be the last one. Unfortunately, George Lucas and the rest of the morons in Hollywood can’t help themselves. They’ve convinced themselves that the current generation of teenagers needs to have the same entertainment that my generation grew up. That’s why we’ve been treated to new installments of “Die Hard,” “Rambo,” and “Rocky,” not to mention all of the television shows turned into movies (as well as remakes of other television shows) from the late 1970’s and 1980’s. With the exception of “Battlestar Galactica,” they have all been various fragrances of shit.

This one had me shaking my head as soon as I heard the title. Did they have some sort of contest for toddlers to come up with “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?” The other titles were clever and only hinted at the main element of the plot. This one practically reached out of the poster and smacked you in the face. It didn’t get any better once it actually started either. Remember how there was an opening sequence before the title and opening credits in the other movies? This was exactly the opposite. They didn’t even make the credits cool or creative. They were just plain words that were difficult to read. Maybe they were just embarrassed by the title.

Now on to the truly awful part: the rest of the movie. If you can get through the first twenty minutes without your brain trying to explode through your skull, you’ve got a fighting chance. I think one of two things happened. Either they forgot to hire continuity people (technicians?) or they let George Lucas run amok. The movie opens with a bunch of undercover Russians infiltrating Area 51. Now you know how this movie is going to end. Good foreshadowing, right? You’ve just been smacked in the face again. This will happen often, so bring some ice. Anyway, they drive up to a large building and pull Indy out of the trunk of one their cars. Then, we are treated to the obligatory shadow of Indy in his hat. This should have been the only thing they reused from the other movies, but, like I said, Lucas can’t help himself.

Here’s where the continuity guys should have been paying attention. The Russians are searching for something that has an extremely strong magnetic field. It’s so strong that Indy throws gunpowder into the air and it gets pulled toward the object. Never mind that gunpowder is at most mildly magnetic. Once he’s identified the pile of crates containing the object, he uses pellets from shotgun shells to locate the exact crate. For some reason, none of the soldiers has a compass (he asks for one before using the gunpowder), but when he needs a pair of pliers to break open the shotgun shells, one of the soldiers pulls a pair out of his pocket. Yes, these are well-equipped soldiers. When they pull the crate out, the shotgun pellets have magically grown to the size of marbles. Hmmm. While the Russians are distracted by the contents of the crate, the escape sequence begins. Indy sprints up some crates and starts swinging across the warehouse with his whip. By now, you should have noticed that the warehouse is the same place where they store the Ark of the Covenant at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” This is confirmed when we actually see the ark as Indy crashes a truck through a wall. Since Area 51 wasn’t built until after the 1930’s, we have to assume that the government moved all of the contents of that original warehouse. Umm, no. Bad continuity or George Lucas? You decide.

Now comes the most absurd part of the movie. Indy makes it to some remote town only to discover that it is actually a mockup of a town. Some booming voice announces that a test is about to commence and Indy realizes he is at ground zero of a nuclear test site. He quickly jumps into a refrigerator and we’re supposed to believe he’ll survive because it has a label stating it is lined with lead. The bomb goes off and the town is obliterated, except for the fridge, which is sent flying and tumbling miles away. Please take a moment to stop pushing your fingers through your eyes. They are actually asking us to believe that lead is impervious to the shockwave and intense heat of a nuclear blast. Lucas believes the audience is so stupid that they’ll believe the only thing Indy needs protection from is the radiation from the blast. Your cheek is probably bleeding from all the smacking now.

You’ve made it through the first twenty minutes; how do you feel? Abused? Insulted? Smacked around? Me too. The movie continues on with a bunch of 1957 Cold War rhetoric, mostly involving McCarthyism and paranoia that Indy is a communist. Throw in Shia LeBouf (Mutt) as Indy’s sidekick/son, the reentry of Marion Ravenwood (Mutt’s mother) and aliens and you’ve got yourself a summer blockbuster. What’s that? You need a tissue to stop the bleeding? Okay; I’ll wait. … Yes, I did say aliens. That’s what this was all about. The crystal skull is supposed to be delivered back to the secret city, where the deliverer will be given special powers. The truth is that the aliens just want their skull back so they can go home. They even exit the city in a scene stolen directly from the “X-Files” movie. Whack! Ouch! That one hurt. Somewhere, L. Ron Hubbard is cackling in his grave. So is Tom Cruise.

I’m about finished, but you need a couple more smacks to balance out the pain. There is one scene where Mutt goes swinging through the jungle with a bunch of monkeys. I have no idea what the point of this was, but it was funny and embarrassing at the same time. In another scene, they escape from the Russians and a swarm of giant, jelly-filled ants by falling down not one, but three giant waterfalls. Finally, Indy is forced to grab onto a snake to escape from some quicksand.

Please, whoever is listening, somebody stop George Lucas. He can’t help himself and he’s never going to stop unless we do something. He’s probably the one who thought it would be a great idea to cast Cate Blanchett as the evil Russian mastermind. Here’s an idea: cast a Russian. At least she’d be more believable, and probably smoking hot, than Blanchett. Lucas will continue to churn out crappy scripts and blow his ILM load with every movie he is involved with. If we don’t stop him, your face will continue to be the bloody mass of pulp you now have attached to your skull.

Rating: Ask for eight dollars back. And some ice.

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