Sunday, June 22, 2008

"Indiana Jones and the Weather From Hell" or "Whip it! Whip it Bad!"

Evil Nazis, bloodthirsty natives and scheming Soviets can't stop Indiana Jones, but an Iowa twister sure can. That's what my wife and I learned a few weeks ago.

Half-way through viewing the fourth Indiana Jones installment, subtitled "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," the projector flickered to a stop and over the p.a. system they advised us that we were under a tornado warning. (For those of you outside tornado alley, a tornado watch means conditions are ripe for a tornado, a tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted in your area, duck and cover!)

So we had to spend the next 45 minutes huddled in a crowded interior hallway with a loud, sweaty gaggle of humanity. But then our luck took a turn for the worse: The tornado warning ended and we had to watch the rest of "Crystal Skull."

To be fair, I have always been a big Indiana Jones fan, so maybe my expectations were too high for the film, but I think mostly it sucked. This movie just didn't "flow" like the original trilogy did.

This one is set in 1957, so Indy has to fight naughty Soviets rather than the wicked Nazis that he used to. Indiana Jones flicks all have a metaphysical element to them and in this film they went in a very different direction with that element, which I didn't like. (Sorry to be vague here, but I don't want to spoil the movie for you in case you're ever faced with the choice of buying tickets to it or throwing your money in a storm drain.)

This is not the first time that genius-turned hack George Lucas has sullied the Indiana Jones name. In the 1990's he came out with a TV series called "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles." Somehow he managed to make it B-O-R-I-N-G. Apparently Lucas is a history buff (normally a good thing in my book) because he had young Indy bump into every important person of the early 20th century. However, the audience doesn't want to see Indy sitting around having an enlightening conversation with Dr. Albert Schweitzer (as he did in one episode). We want to see Indy kick Albert Schweitzer in the head, then engage in a running gunfight on top of a zeppelin flying low over an active volcano, dammit!

If you're going to see "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," at least see it on the big screen so you can ogle at all the "gee-whiz" visual effects provided by Lucas' Industrial Lights and Magic effects company in lieu of a plot.

Perhaps I'm too hard on this film. I think maybe Indiana Jones films are like pizza or sex: even bad Indiana Jones movies are better than no Indiana Jones at all. So go see it. If it turns out you can't stand it, pray for a tornado.


Bawb said...

I'm confused. Did you like the movie or not?

Ben said...

I'm confused too. I feel like I'm talking smack about an old friend if I say I don't like it. It's definitly the worst of the 4 Indy movies. It's probably worth seeing though, just for the special effects and because it's Indiana Jones.