Indiana Jones and the Raiders of My Fourteen Bucks

I was going to write this post last night, but opted to leave well enough alone, in hopes that anyone who might have visited the page yesterday would have seen my Memorial Day video tribute.

But now the holiday is over, so let us begin. If at the opening of the new Indiana Jones movie you were confused as to how a fifties car could drive 65+ miles an hour through brush desert without leaving it’s wheels in a rut or it’s oil pan on a rock, you wouldn’t be alone. If when the kids in said vehicle pulled up on a desert road amongst a military convoy and challenged the lead driver to race you wondered why any kid of reasonable intelligence would do such a thing in the mid Fifties – the height of McCarthyism, the height of the Red Scare, the height of Ike’s military-industrial complex – you doubtless would have been in good company. And if, when the soldiers revealed themselves to be Ruskies posing as U.S. soldiers, you wondered why the hell they would do something as trivial as actually take the kids up on the race, well then my friend, you have taken your first baby steps into a larger world of idiocy that is Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull.

I’m no movie critic and generally take critic’s assessments of movies with a very large grain of salt. Indeed, when I read a review of this movie on MSNBC that said this movie was “all the stuff you expect out of Indiana Jones movies, but nothing interesting,” I naturally assumed that this person was a typically snobbish movie critic. In point of fact, this movie was ten times worse than he described it and I have to wonder if he didn’t step out of the theatre half way through to go play with his Star Wars figures. I wish I would have done the same.

Because I certainly don’t expect much of an Indiana Jones movie other than plain good fun, but I’d like the plot line to at least make some limited sense and I’d like the stunts to seem at least mildly physically possible. Sadly, neither came to be in this movie. And while I would never recommend anyone take safety tips from Indie, I do have to make a special note: kids, if you find yourself in the middle of a nuclear blast site moments before impact (George Bush still has a few months to make that dream a reality) you’re going to want to find yourself a better shelter than a Fifties refrigerator. It won’t work like it did – beyond all reason – for Indie.

And the movie just keeps going like this, from improbable plot line to impossible stunt, for two hours, three locations and three crypts of near exact decor. It gets to the point that you just stop really watching and just start observing. Even worse, in direct contradiction of the afore-mentioned review, there is one overriding missing element that could have made this movie a bit more livable: some gratuitous, comically gratuitous violence and gore. No one’s face melted, no one’s back was thrashed into an airplane’s propeller, no one got crushed in a big wheel thing, no one’s still-beating heart was removed. . . I mean, what’s the point?

For chrissakes, they didn’t even pop any rotten corpses out at anybody in the temples. What the hell is an Indiana Jones movie without corpses? And bugs. Lots of creepy, crawly bugs. All there was were a couple of lame-ass scorpions. What? Were the beetles too expensive? There was one snake, whose introduction was the most flaccid, ineffectual moment of silliness in the entire movie.

But I begin to believe that all my childhood sci-fi directorial heroes have gone senile and become doddering old fools, parodying their own works. From the insufferable dialogue in the Star Wars prequels to the juvenile impossibility of the new Indie movie, it makes me think the best policy going forward is to avoid anything associated with Skywalker Ranch.

If anything, please take this post as a warning to at least avoid this movie, lest the entire Indie franchise be tarnished for you as it is for me.

Late Note: Perhaps the most telling thing about the movie is the fact that every single promotional image – from movie posters to Snickers kiosks – features images of Harrison Ford from twenty years ago.  Instead of a fun movie where we could have a little fun with the aged Indy taking over his dad’s role, we have a movie equivalent of Harrison Ford’s second childhood.