Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should.

In 10th grade I some how came across a flawless fedora. So you better believe that for Halloween that year, I also scrapped together an old army satchel, a some khakis, a leather jacket, and of course, a bullwhip. Ever since I can remember, the Harrison Ford amalgamation of Indian Jones / Han Solo has been my iconic hero figure. I worshiped and upheld both Raiders and the Last Crusade as some of the best movies ever. (I never got into that whole Temple of Doom thing.)

So needless to say, I’ve been following the rumored 4th Indy pretty closely. I was right there when M. Night Shyamalan was supposedly writing the script. I checked IMDb one day prior to the release of the title and literally checked back the next day to see “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” squarely in place. And last week, Mrs. Kyality and I polished off Raiders and the Last Crusade in preparation for the weekend when we finally had a babysitter so we could hook up with the Upto12's and check out the newest Indy installment.

First things first, at least the Crystal Skull is better than the Temple of Doom. But if you’ve heard that you’ll need to suspend your disbelief for this one—you heard right. The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a massive exercise in the fact that: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Yet, I’ll also be the first to admit, I didn’t not like it.

Without giving anything away, here’s what worked. The whole first half of the movie was good, fun stuff. The time period was dead-on; you definitely get the sense that Indy is older. Shia Labeouf is actually pretty awesome. The twist was good and there’s some decent dialog for sure.

Here’s what didn’t work. Nearly the entire movie seems as though it’s shot on a set. There’s far too much surrealism, I felt like I was watching an installment of The Mummy franchise rather than the Indy series. Indiana Jones flicks are the ultimate stuntman movies, they need to be set somewhat in reality in order to have that how’d-they-do-that impact. And no, tons of special effects and South-American- grave-dwelling-ninjas don’t count. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

That last and most important component that was lacking in this flick is a little thing known as the Spielberg Moment. You know what I mean… a Spielberg Moment is one of pure, true wittiness. It’s Indy cappin’ the swordsman, it’s E.T. motionless in the toy closet, it’s seeing the shark and uttering, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” The Crystal Skull tried really, really hard to have that moment and it came close, but time after time fell just short of the mark. But like I said, at least it was better than the Temple of Doom.
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