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It is great to see Indy again. It is so strange to realize that at one time there was no Indy. What dark days they must have been. And so it was with relish that I looked forward to seeing the rumpled old fedora and leather coat. Sadly, even Spielberg couldn’t save this one. It opens with long crane shots of 50s drag racers in the Nevada desert, leading us to (where else?) Area 51. It is here that our government has been warehousing secret treasures (we even get a glimpse of the Ark in its crate). It is also where we meet the villianess, Cate Blanchett, who could not look any more dowdy if she were in one of those mumu dresses all the girls are wearing these days.
So ensues the first action sequence as Indy escapes from the evil Commies who want American technology. It was in this fight scene that the first hint of anything like our old Indy is seen. There are those little moments of humor that sneak into the almighty battle between good and evil — that I recognized.
Still there was FAR too much that they asked us to believe. There has always been a small element of the supernatural that Indy has to contend with, which is fine. This time it was the power of a crystal skull that supposedly was able to grant those who could connect to it psychically, great knowledge. This is plausible enough since it’s true that both Soviet and American intelligence bureaus researched and tested the possibilities of psychic ability. They thought if they could perfect such a skill, spies would no longer need to travel abroad to gain secrets — it could all be done at the office. But not only did we have to believe in this skull’s power, we also had to believe it was alien and that the Peruvians who built the Maskelines were descended from aliens. And also, that a giant spaceship was buried in Peru.
I am sure you have guessed by now, but yes, Shia LeBeouf is Indy’s son. His entrance into the film is enough to make you hurl. He is a talented enough kid but I am already tired of him being stuffed down my throat. I didn’t like him before and I’m not going to. Stop forcing the issue. Since it’s 1957, he has a lovely pompadour styling that he is always fixing with his backpocket comb (a move that is played for laughs far too many times). But when he enters, it is on his pride and joy Harley, wearing a black leather jacket and a captain’s hat. It’s as if Spielberg were telling us all that he has found the next Brando and we should all be grateful. It was arrogant, patronizing and had no place in an Indy movie. Furthermore, we are to believe that because he can wield a switchblade and took
a class that was barely alluded to, that he can hold his own against an army-trained Ukrainian fencer. Then, the worst scene this summer (yes, worse than Susan kissing Caspian), Shia goes Tarzan in the Amazonian rainforest. During a MUCH too long action sequence (which has more holes than the ozone), Shia is caught and tangled in some hanging vines. While up there he sees some monkeys. Awwww. But then, he watches them use the vines as a means of transportation! Eureka! And off Shia flies and swings and floats through the jungle, just like a monkey. I still haven’t figured that one out.
It was good to see Marian again, as well (yep, she is Shia’s mom). She still had the spunk and their chemistry still came through. It was one of those few moments when it felt like Indy again. Which they promptly ruined by asking us to believe that the crew could tumble over a waterfall not one, not two, but three times (the last being twice as big as Niagara) and literally just walk out of the water. Oh, and then there is the time Indy hides in a lead-lined refrigerator to survive a nuclear testing – at the epicenter. It blew him a half a mile a way but he was fine. Also, when they caught their flight to Peru, the familiar image of a Pan-Am plane was superimposed over the map and we watch as they make refueling stops along the way. Guess where you can’t land in 1957 if you are an American? Cuba. Guess where Indy had a lay-over? Havana.
There were too many mistakes and too many things out of place. And the good Indy quest kind of things were glossed over. The great part about 1 & 3 was that we knew what the clues were and we were looking too. This time, Indy mentions them once, too quickly for us to learn, and then next thing, he’s opening a secret cave. We don’t really get to play along.
Occasionally it would fall into a rhythm and I would start to feel like they have caught the Indy groove, but then something would jar it back into stilted dialogue world. I wanted so much to like it. In fact, Im sure if it had been anything but Indy, I would have hated it. Instead, I’m sad. And I can’t decide whether I want them to make a 5th or not. Will they learn like they did from Temple of Doom, and make another in the line of Last Crusade? Or was it lightning in a bottle? They had 20 years to write #4. They could have done better in the 7300 days we were waiting. We didn’t want whiz-bang or aliens or a snotty teenager. We wanted our backyard friend, Indiana Jones.