Monday, May 26, 2008

50 Flaws of Indy IV

On January 17, 2007, Indy IV screenwriter, David Koepp, said, “I’m going to get my ass handed to me on some level, even by my fellow filmmakers or the audience.”

And so on this day, May 26, 2008, I, Mystery Man, will now officially hand David Koepp his ass:


(That’s my butler – Baremore. And I'm not even going to explain how we got David's ass. Hehehe…)

--------------------------------------

50 Flaws of Indy IV

** Total Spoilers **

1) Indy – The problems begin with Indy. Manohla Dargis suggested
in her review that the film was a half-hearted effort on the part of Spielberg because he seemed bored with the material. How does one get that impression from a film? I would submit to you that the entire enterprise felt half-hearted simply because Indy was under-motivated. An Indiana Jones film does not hang its hat on the McGuffin but rather Indy’s motivation. The McGuffin doesn’t matter. What matters is how important that McGuffin is to Indy. If Indy wants an artifact more than anything, then the audience will want him to have it more than anything. It’s that simple. Indy should've gone to get the skull because HE wanted to get the skull, and was always fascinated by the skull, and couldn’t wait to get his hands on it - NOT because Oxley and some woman named “Mary” were kidnapped. We don’t know who Oxley or “Mary” is so we don’t really care, and the adventure begins on a half-hearted, uninspired note. We cared in Raiders because Indy WANTED the Ark. We cared in TOD because we saw the dying village and Indy WANTED to get the stones for them. We cared in LC because we met his Dad, albeit briefly, in the opening flashback sequence before we learned about his disappearance. Some professor and some woman we never knew and haven’t seen is missing? Who cares?

2) Indy said that he and Oxley “used to be obsessed” about the skulls. A more compelling motivation would’ve been, very simply, that Indy was STILL obsessed about the skulls, that it was his latest and greatest passion, that he would love to find one, and he takes off to get it. But here, his motivations are muddled and confusing. Does he want to save Oxley and Mutt’s mom as a courtesy to this kid he's never met before or does he want the skull? Does he even care about the skull?

3) Another ridiculously under-motivated moment with Indy came right before the Third Act climax. After having gone over those 3 waterfalls, Indy tells the gang that he has to return the skull. Why? “Because it told me to.” How half-hearted and ridiculous is that? Are you kidding me? Indy should’ve WANTED to return the skull because HE personally wanted it to happen. Period. All of this under-motivation (or confusing multiple motivations) of Indy points to a bigger problem and that is, the filmmakers themselves were never fully committed to their own McGuffin. It's as if they brought back Marion as an excuse to have an adventure despite the McGuffin, because they were too embarrassed about it. It's almost as if Spielberg is purposely trying to distance himself from the younger Spielberg who believed in aliens and made a movie about a man who left his wife and children to fly away on an alien spaceship. Hey, look. If you're going to tell an Indiana Jones story, you have to be fully committed to your McGuffin regardless of what it is. Indy has to care deeply about that McGuffin. He has to WANT IT. BADLY. If Indy's fully committed to wanting an artifact, the audience will be, too, and happier when they walk out of the theater.

4) The Warehouse - If Indy knew what the Russians were looking for and how to find it, why did he later ask the FBI agents what was in the box? If he didn’t know what was IN the box, how did he know the box had magnetic properties? He does sorta explain this dilemma in the interrogation scene. He tells the FBI agents a tale about being thrown on a bus in the middle of the night, seeing mutilated bodies, and being told not to say anything. He revealed nothing about his experience with the box and knowing about its properties. The fact that we even have to endure a convoluted piece of verbal exposition about what happened in order to explain how Indy knew about a box and its magnetic properties without knowing its contents is weak screenwriting.

5) Skulls - Correct me if I’m wrong. Indy said in the diner that there were 13 skulls. He found one in Peru, and Spalko obtained another one at the warehouse, right? But there were already 12 in the chamber that needed 13. That's 14 skulls. Then Spalko says later that more skulls were found in Russia and other places. Then why did she need the one in the warehouse? What was the point of the warehouse sequence? What was the point of Indy saying that there were only 13 skulls? How did they know that the skull in the warehouse WASN’T the important 13th skull that needed to be returned? Indy films were a lot of things, but confusing was never one of them.

6) FBI - The subplot with the FBI went unresolved and had nothing to do with the main plot. You would’ve thought that we had that interrogation scene with the FBI agents because the U.S. government would continue to spy on Indy around the world and that this would’ve played a part in the Third Act climax after which Indy’s name would be cleared. But, no. Those scenes were pointless except to perhaps make statements about government witch-hunting, which has already been made more brilliantly in other films. Indy’s name is, presumably, cleared in the end, because he’s reinstated at the college, but we never know how or why this happened. A horribly under-developed subplot.

7) And let me also add that the FBI agents and the General are 3 wasted characters, and that's sloppy writing. What’s the point of this subplot if we’re only going to see these characters once? At least the government guys made a re-appearance at the end of Raiders.

8) Mac - I question the point of Mac’s character. The idea of a double-crossing sidekick is great fun, but he was never put to good use. In fact, they totally gave the game away in the very beginning with Mac's betrayal at the warehouse. He turns on Indy before we ever had a chance to get to know the guy. Hence the quick, yet forced dialogue outside the warehouse about their long history together. Forced exposition like that does not help the surprise of Mac’s betrayal. Spending time with a character is what gives us the emotional punch of a betrayal. Not only that, Mac turns on Indy in the least dramatic moment. The Russian army never needed Mac to save them. Of course, Mac HAD to turn on Indy in the warehouse sequence so that, in the next few scenes, Indy would be under suspicion by the FBI for a subplot that never gets fleshed-out or resolved. They should've saved the twist of Mac’s betrayal for the ending. As it is, the scenes with Spalko following the red-light blinking thingees were boring because we KNEW Mac was leaving them. Where's the surprise and tension in that?

9) Why was Mac in Peru? Presumably, it’s a conspiracy of the most absurd kind. I think I understand. Try to follow me. The Russians let Marion mail the letter to her son with the instructions to take the letter to Indy so that he will go on the hunt to obtain the 13th skull. And the Russians knew that Indy took on this challenge because they saw Mutt with Indy in the diner, and thus, they sent Mac to Peru to follow them. But Mac’s already betrayed Indy. That makes it an even bigger risk to the Russians to have him there. Why not send some anonymous spy? Why was Mac even in Peru? Didn’t he get paid off for the warehouse job? Shouldn’t he be on holiday? Since when did Russians pay?

10) Funny that Mac didn’t die in that crushing head-on collision in the warehouse, which involved THREE vehicles when that third truck rammed into back of what was Indy’s jeep.

11) Diner Scene - the exposition in the diner scene was the worst in the franchise. This was the most amateurish rock-bottom handling of exposition that could have been written. It was two talking heads in a diner. That's it. Remember how visual the exposition was in the Raiders setup with the big book and the chalkboard and the talk about the Well of Souls? That's great exposition. That was exciting! In TOD, we had the visual of the dying village. In LC, at least we had the visuals of dad's journal. Here, it's just two talking heads. And Spielberg had to add those visual flourishes of Mutt toying around with the coke and beer to keep the scene from being boring and visually lifeless. One of the bedrock principles of screenwriting: show, don’t tell.

12) There was also too much exposition in the diner scene. We had the rather convoluted and confusing backstory of Oxley, how Oxley’s important to Mutt, the kidnapping of Oxley, the kidnapping of his mother, the letter, and also heaping amounts of exposition from Indy about the skulls. It was too much. Indiana Jones films were a lot of things, but they never had to do a lot of explaining about anything. It would’ve been much easier if he had said very simply, “My Mom’s Marion Ravenwood, and she’s missing.” This would’ve given Indy a stronger motivation that could’ve excited audiences. We would’ve anticipated this great reunion, and we wouldn’t have had to listen to chunks of exposition to get around a surprise everyone saw coming since the day Shia’s casting was announced. Besides, even if some in the audience were actually surprised by her return, how many times are you going to be surprised by that twist? Only once.

13) Indy tells the Crystal Skull story to Mutt in the diner almost dismissively (“It's just a story, kid”) even though he just helped the Russians find one in the warehouse… in a box that he didn’t know about but somehow knew it had magnetic properties.

14) What was the point of the scorpion sting on Mutt's hand? Shouldn't that have led to something else? Or a setup to a joke of some kind later? By the way, David, scorpions STING, they don't BITE. I seriously doubt Indy would've made that little verbal mistake.

15) Discovering the Skull - Two problems with Indy finding the skull. First, you make the whole experience and joy of discovery less special (or not special at all) if it’s a tomb that Indy doesn’t discover for the first time and if it’s an artifact that Indy isn’t the first to find. Here, the tomb's already been raided, the artifact was found, taken, and put back for Indy to find later. That’s ridiculous. That pulls the rug out from all the fun of watching Indy do what he does best.

16) The second problem is that the discovery of the skull was too simple and too easy. He handed a corpse to Mutt and flipped up some fabric. Are you kidding me? Consider the past films and all the great care that went into the revealing of the all-important McGuffin, which was always made as special as possible for the audience.

17) Consider how the metal objects of the warehouse trailed behind the skull, which was wrapped up inside a lead container inside a wooden box. If the skull was behind the corpse’s head in Peru, why wasn't all the gold lying RIGHT NEXT to the corpse all over the head?

18) How did Oxley, of all people, get past the graveyard guardians? Plus, who did they work for? And who did their wardrobe and make-up?

19) Dialogue - WAY too much confusing dialogue in Act Two while they were searching for Oxley. There were too many double-meanings of words, which is beneath the caliber of an Indy film. I didn't understand much of it on my first viewing. The scene in the tomb should’ve ended almost immediately after they found the skull, but they just kept talking and talking. That was a bad pacing misstep.

20) The skull looked like cheap plastic filled with Saran Wrap. There was no discernible rhyme or reason to its properties except that they were carefully designed to save Indy whenever he was in trouble.

21) Irina Spalko - She was the worst and weakest of the villains. She wasn’t even as ruthless as Julian Glover. Koepp cock-blocks every opportunity to make her a great villain. First, he should've established early just how BAD she really is. The worst thing she ever did was whip out her sword. I would’ve been happier if, instead of Mac betraying Indy in the warehouse, Spalko kills Mac to prove that she meant business. The fact that Spalko couldn't communicate with the skull was another misstep, in my opinion. Her mental connection to the skull would've raised the stakes and turned her into a more dangerous antagonist. Also, why make Spalko a psychic if A) she can’t even read Indy’s mind and B) nothing else develops from it? Her psychic abilities, I guess, was her motivation to obtain the skull’s power of mind, but she was so weak as a villain that I never felt she deserved what she got in the end. (I get the sense that they made her a soft villain so they wouldn’t offend today’s Russians, but to make her weak would be even more offensive, would it not? Besides, there is nothing worse in an Indy film than an under-motivated protagonist and a soft villain.)

22) Marion - We never got the sense that Marion was ever in real danger. Consider how quickly and simply Marion was in danger in the bar scene in Raiders.

23) I never once believed that Marion would not have told Indy about their son. The only reason she didn’t tell him was because a contrived plot forced her to do so and we can have a special moment in a sandpit.

24) Why was Indy helping the Russians? Wouldn't he have told them one thing to send them on the wrong path while he goes off to do something different? Wouldn't that be more in his character? The fact that Indy was asking for help when only the Russians were around (and they always complied) just made them even LESS formidable as foes. Could you imagine Indy asking the Thuggees for help?

25) Mutt - I never once believed that Mutt, a supposedly tough 50's teen rebel, would've been so emotional about Oxley – even more so than for his own mother who's in just as much danger as Oxley.

26) The fact that Mutt was able to surprise a trained Russian army by pushing over a table, pushing them back with the table, and throwing down a lantern was beyond implausible.

27) Why did Indy tell Oxley to “get help” when he and Marion were in the sandpit? The only humans within a square mile were armed Russians actively searching for Indy. And Mutt already went to get help. Indy would’ve known better. Besides, they were surrounded by trees. Why didn't they just grab a nearby branch? I’ll tell you why. Because the screenplay called for a contrived slapstick moment with a snake that was too forced and unbelievable to get real laughs.

28) Early Reviewers - I’d like to give a shout-out to
ShogunMaster who wrote that scathing early review. He took a lot of heat for that in the media. David Poland at Movie City News described him as “one idiot.” There were actually 3 reviews, David. Try to keep up. The thing is, ShogunMaster was right. All of his complaints about lack of tension were not only spot on but also echoed by many other top critics, including Robert Wilonsky, Joe Morgenstern, James Berardinelli, and the great Manohla Dargis who said she was “bored out of her mind.” Here’s a perfect example of this film's lack of tension. How can there be any tension leading up to the Third Act when Indy has the McGuffin in his possession and he’s doing what the Russians want him to do (without forcing him to do it) and he’s also doing what the skull wants him to do? What the hell does Indy want? When we get into the chamber, he strangely changes his mind when Spalko puts the skull on the alien’s body. If anything, the Russians should’ve obtained the skull in the chase sequence, captured Indy and the gang, and they all marched up to the chamber together. Indy could’ve known what would happen if the skull is returned, DIDN’T want to see that happen, and tries to stop Spalko from doing it. THAT, my friends, creates TENSION.

29) Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, about the Third Act climax and the aliens made any sense to me. How did the 13 become one? Why do they become one? What was the “gift” exactly? Melting Spalko?

30) I actually didn't like the exchanges between Marion and Indy. It was all too angry, on-the-nose, and not much fun for me. Marion’s return was just a ridiculously contrived fanboy concept, and I believe
Jeb Stuart’s wedding (and the surprise appearance of Marion and Willy in a bar afterwards) would’ve played better with audiences.

31) So Indy, Marion, and Mutt are prisoners in the back of a truck, which of course, they manage to escape from AGAIN by suddenly kicking everybody. Question - why would Russians have a bazooka stored in a truck transporting prisoners?

32) The Chase - Ebert had
a funny observation: “We get such sights as two dueling Jeep-like vehicles racing down parallel roads. Not many of the audience members will be as logical as I am and wonder who went to the trouble of building parallel roads in a rain forest.” Actually, Ebert’s wrong. There shouldn't have been ANY roads, because the sequence began with that monster vehicle cutting up the rainforest and paving the way for the convoy behind it. After Indy blew it up, they should've been on foot or turned the truck around and went back.

33) Nearly everyone made this complaint and it’s true - excessive, bloated CGI. I hated those stupid prairie dogs. The "big damn" CGI ants would've never worked. In Raiders, you felt tension with Indy fighting around that plane because it was a real, physical plane. You'll never feel that same kind of tension with CGI ants, which frankly betrayed years of promises to fans about no CGI.

34) No blood. Anywhere. Just a bit in the Soviet soldier's mouth before he toppled into the ants. That was it. Hardly any bullet holes in the dead Indians and no blood after the soldiers got gunned down in the beginning. This was the most cartoonish, fake, sanitized Indiana Jones film ever made and one that should’ve been PG instead of PG-13.

35) The sword fight between Mutt and Spalko was pointless and failed to advance the story in any way. Mutt was given what amounts to a razor burn and that’s it. Mutt’s talent for sword-fighting was fed to us via bad verbal exposition. If a character has a particular skill that the audience needs to know about, then that skill better be used to advance the story in some meaningful way, not so that we can have a 10-second sword fight on top of two moving cars that has no affect on the outcome of this giant “tent pole” chase sequence.

36) Shia swinging from vines was the dumbest idea in not only the entire Indiana Jones franchise but also the Spielberg canon. It’s worse than the high bar crap in Lost World, which by the way was also written by David Koepp. But even worse than that is the simple fact that Indiana Jones did NOTHING in the big chase sequence. All the action was handed to Mutt. Tell me: whose movie is this? Indy’s or Mutt’s?

37) Oxley - What was with the funny-sounding rod that Oxley was playing with the first time we see him, which is presented to us as if it has some kind of significance and then is quickly forgotten?

38) Here's
Ebert again: “At his advanced age, Professor Oxley tirelessly jumps between vehicles, survives fire and flood and falling from great heights, and would win on 'American Gladiator.' Relationships between certain other characters are of interest, since (a) the odds against them finding themselves together are astronomical, and (b) the odds against them not finding themselves together in this film are incalculable.”

39) I also wholly agreed with
James Berardinelli: “Unfortunately, not only is the level of tension at an all-time low but the choreography is dubious. The film can't keep track of all the characters so one car disappears for half the chase only to reappear at a critical juncture near the end. The movie contains its share of other action scenes that, while less lavish or extensive, are no more thrilling.”

40) So those natives were just plastered into the walls, waiting for someone to come along for the last 500 years? The idea was too similar to the crazy protectors of the graveyard in Peru. The entire discovery of the skull should’ve been completely scrapped and re-done.

41) There were jokes about Indy's age, but his fights were treated as if he was still young. So which is it? Is he old or is he young? Don’t bones get more brittle with age? One of the charms of Indy in the past is that the filmmakers allowed him to show pain. But in this film, he takes more abuse than he ever did in the three previous films, doesn't show any pain whatsoever, and yet, he's much OLDER.

42) Way too many characters: Indy, Mutt, Marion, Mac, and Oxley.

43) We were frequently ahead of the story (when we weren't confused) such as “Mary” being Marion Ravenwood or Mutt being Indy’s son or that Indy will win the fight with the Russian soldier who will fall into the ants, or frankly, the mysteries about the skull itself.

44) The spaceship taking off lacked any sense of wonder. Nothing Spielberg could give us in that sequence will ever compare to the emotional impact of E.T. or the stunning visuals of Close Encounters. I blame Lucas for putting Spielberg into the position of giving the audience an impossibly unsatisfying ending any way he approached it.

45) “It's the space between the space” might actually be worse Third Act dialogue than “Illumination.”

46) I don’t know about your crowd, but when Shia was getting ready to put Indy's hat on, people in my theater started BOOING.

47) You know it’s bad when even John Williams turns in a lame score.

48) Should I even mention how joyless and unfunny it was? I’d recommend that Koepp reads Mel Helitzer’s
Comedy Writing Secrets.

49) By my count, Indy should’ve died 168 times.

50) And finally, they should’ve turned to me for the writing duties.

Hehehe


[I'd like to thank Erin, Joel, anonymous, Octavio, Mickey Lee, Nic, Purpletrex, James, Pat, and Kevin Lehane for their thoughts. -MM]

85 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post. I couldn't agree more, but get ready to be flamed. Someone will most likely accuse you of being a nerd or something because you're taking the film too seriously. That's the response I've received for raising similar criticisms.

Craig said...

Thank you. I was beginning to think I imagined the whole catastrophe. I don't have much to add, except that when John Hurt and Ray Winstone, two of the best character actors around (see The Proposition for evidence for both), can't get anything going with their characterizations, the script is a mutt....I mean a dog.

My take.

James said...

Couldn't be more spot on.

What I can't believe is the high rating it is getting with audiences.

Are people really that starved for a good movie? And if so -- hello studios... wake up!

About the opening and Mac --

During the film, I said to my gf, they should have started in Mexico, showing Indy retrieving some artifact, with Mac in tow, only to be captured by the Russians.

This would be a MUCH more appropriate Indy opening, would help flesh out Mac as a character, and also help setup the double cross... later finding out that they found Indy in Mexico BECAUSE Mac was there.

I thought the warehouse was under-captialized. In essence, it was an exposition scene. And could have been one of the most entertaining exposition scene of all Indy films. Instead, they tried to ply it as an exciting opening scene, which it clearly wasn't.

The arbitrary and needless following scenes, the school, the "house" where LITERALLY cookie-cutter cutouts of RAIDERS and LAST CRUSADE. These were TOTALLY unnecessary. Hello, it's NOT the order that the scene come in, but the CONTENT WITHIN THEM that make them important.

LAST CRUSADE, which uses this formula, actually deviates.

RAIDERS is ~12mins of exciting opening. Followed by school. Followed by exposition scene. Followed by the house scene.

LAST CRUSADE is ~12 mins of exciting early INDY opening -- here's the deviation -- brings us into the "present" with 5 mins of more exciting Indy adventure on the boat for a total of ~17 mins of intro. Then the school. Then the exposition scene. Then the "house scene.

It's not an arbitrary device, used because the predecessor did it. It's unfolding story in a meaningful manner.

Notice, ToD doesn't follow that model at all, but still manages to capture the essense of Indy.

~12 min action intro scene. Plane crash-River. Indian village/Exposition scene.

Structure is great. But you need great content to fill out structure too.

#50) I agree, if by me, you mean me :)

Great post, MM. I could go on for hours and hours and hours of where this movie messed up :p

Pat said...

I just remembered the part where the amphibian car rolls off the cliff, lands on a tree and uses it to smack the Russians off the cliff face and cushion their fall.

I'm done thinking about this movie until George tries to get a sfx nod.

Laura Deerfield said...

5) Skulls - Correct me if I’m wrong. Indy said in the diner that there were 13 skulls.

Yeah, this was handled really poorly - BUT when we see the floppy rubber alien costume, er, eviscerated alien in the jungle - Spalko says something like, "So close, this one's skeleton was almost entirely crystal." I think this is meant to imply that the alien wasn't quite as pure as the aliens (oh, excuse me, interdimensional beings...like it makes a difference) in the City of Gold. There's the implication that the aliens are looking for the 13 as well. So, the one in the warehouse was like, bad dope - and she needed the pure shit.


29) What was the “gift” exactly?

"All the knowledge"...They offered a gift, and the next thing, Spalko asked for all their knowledge. Of course, that would have made more sense if the crystal hive had actually asked her to choose a gift. And, of course, all their knowledge was too much for her tiny little human brain. Apparently knowledge makes you self-combust. Not much of an arguement for education. I didn't get why the alien looked at her like she deserved to get melted. She didn't seem to deserve all that. (Which, again, was kind of a problem. The villain should deserve to have her brain melted by aliens for her greed and evil deeds.)





But yeah, other than that - I agree. It was mildly entertaining. Not an F - more like a C.
In particular (aside from character motivation problems) I really missed seeing Indy hurt. I always thought that the fact that you really saw how much those punches and falls hurt him was part of the genius of the original.


(Oh, I do have one other thing to add: Just like Indy, the hat didn't get beat up. It stayed clean and wasn't crushed. Didn't ever have to get dusted off. And yeah, if Mutt had put that hat on, I'd have shot the screen.)

Emily Blake said...

Yep. I really tried to like it but every step I just kept believing less and less of what was going on. The little stuff adds up.

Like when they were having that stupid fight between Jeeps and Shia was straddling them and the Russians already had the skull, any person with half a brain would have swerved and made him fall off. This in itself is not a major problem, but when this is one of a thousand examples of illogical behavior, it adds up to a really annoying movie.

Anonymous said...

All good points. Let's not forget Mac's sudden acceptance of his impending death, (from being sucked into a vortex created by a revving spaceship..?) and the accompanying line: "I'll be alright..."
I mean, what the Hell? Where did that come from? As if Mac would calmy find peace with his situation.
By the way, could Koepp have ripped off The Mummy any more with that whole room of gold crap? The greedy double-crossing sidekick too busy stealing loot to notice he's gonna die? Yeah, they always get it...

ashley said...

The 51st Flaw!

You forgot the most outrageous scene in Indy IV.

The nuclear explosion

1.Surviving a nuclear explosion on ground zero, by hiding in a fridge.
2.Surviving in a fridge that is miraculously hurled into the clouds.
3.Surviving radioactive exposure, with a good scrub.

Comic book antics aside... I almost choked seeing this

rayannecarr said...

But leaving those few points aside, did you enjoy the movie?
Hehehe. :-)
Many thanks for creating a post with a veritable hot checklist of 'make sure that you have NOT done this in YOUR script!'

Kevin Lehane said...

"It would’ve been much easier if he had said very simply, “My Mom’s Marion Ravenwood, and she’s missing.” This would’ve given Indy a stronger motivation that could’ve excited audiences. We would’ve anticipated this great reunion, and we wouldn’t have had to listen to chunks of exposition to get around a surprise everyone saw coming since the day Shia’s casting was announced. Besides, even if some in the audience were actually surprised by her return, how many times are you going to be surprised by that twist? Only once."

This is the one huge contribution I would've made if I read the script previous to it being made (and had some say). I think it was ridiculous not to motivate Indy, the audience would have been hanging on every beat to make sure Indy finds his true love. This old lonely fart, and the woman we all love ...

Marion this time round though was a lifeless, daft, granny. Not in looks, because she is still striking and beautiful, but she had none of the moxie of old Marion. I was expecting all sorts of fun, but nothing.

Anyway, can someone please explain to me how this film has gotten such good reviews? I think the world has gone insane and the simple fact of seeing Indy again is good enough to whitewash over a multitude of unforgivable sins.

Michael J Dowswell said...

Listen I completely agree with about maybe 90% of this list...but, I feel its unfair of you to not list the positive things that you liked about the film. I know it may be a small list but there has to be some things that you liked in it. Here is my list of the things I liked…

The opening credits (this probably largely depends on wiether you like the Elvis song being used, BUT you cannot argue that this was beautifully shot, and 100% real, excluding for the very first shot with the CG animal) 80% of the motor bike sequence?, the big long shot at the end, 70% of the opening story, Igor Jijikine, Pavel Lychnikoff, Harrison Ford, The shot of the Jungle cutter cutting through the forest, the low shot of the ants walking towards the characters, The wedding scene (this was odd cause I thought I’d not like it at all, but there was a line from John Hurt that got me), the detail in the sets (pretty incredible)

Anonymous said...

i disagree with 45) “It's the space between the space” might actually be worse Third Act dialogue than “Illumination.”..i liked both those lines...i also thought the prarie dogs were cute and funny...otherewise..i agree with most of what you say.

Anonymous said...

If I am understanding number 17 correctly, you are wondering why gold isn't attracted to the skull. (And since I haven't seen this movie yet, I might have misunderstood.)

If I remember my physics correctly, gold is diamagnetic(just like wood, water, and most organic compounds). It exhibits a very weak repulsion force from magnetic fields, and certainly will not be attracted to the skull like iron, nickle, or cobolt will.

Joshua James said...

Very nice, a proper and skilled handing of ass - I salute you.

Brian said...

5.) Indy doesn't say anything about "13 skulls" in the diner. He only says that there are "a number of crystal skulls in the world".

13.)But Indy didn't know that he helped the Russians find a Crystal Skull in the warehouse. He never got a good look at it. Also, it turned out Indy was right to tell the Crystal Skull story dismissively. The whole thing turned out to be bullshit. "Whoever returns the skull controls it's power" = Whoever returns the skull gets to see Aliens fly away in a giant saucer.

Bob G. said...

Let me play devil's advocate for a moment. I agree with all the criticisms that have been leveled here, and especially with Kevin Lehane's summary: "God damn George Lucas."

However...

During the film (and only during), I was definitely entertained. It's hard writing about it now, because in retrospect I am brimming with contempt for the script. Yet even as the cheese factor weighed on me in the alien parts, and even as the potential through-lines (old age/loss/generational renewal; red-scare paranoia/suspicion/betrayal) failed to pan out, even as Harrison Ford was compelled to utter flat, unsparkling dialogue (and I'm not even talking about all the exposition), and even as I wanted to slap that goofy grin off Karen Allen's face, I had a good time watching the film. How can that be?

I think the answer is that the bar was set so low. No one with half a brain expects anything from George Lucas anymore, and film critic Paul Tatara nailed the problem with Harrison Ford years ago when he wrote (in his review of Air Force One):

Ford's aw-shucks grin and cocky confrontational repartee has been replaced by a grimacing, finger-pointing task master who forever looks like he's catching kids smoking in the rest room. America wants a hero they can identify with, and he's decided to become the first action principal

So because the bar was set so low, those moments of Crystal Skulls that actually work -- and there are some, it would be unfair to deny it -- were a surprise and a delight. There aren't that many, and the whole isn't more than the sum of those parts as they would be in a really good film. But for me at least, the presence of any such moments was a kind of relief. Here are some:

- The Russian colonel's ruthlessness revealed by his tying his shoelaces while his men gun down the guards;

- Indy finding himself in a town about to be vaporized, and moments later (after a painfully implausible escape) standing before a gigantic mushroom cloud -- very cinematic, very nice;

- Indy pulled off the motorcycle into a car, fighting his way through, and climbing out the other side, back onto the bike;

- "Don't let anybody tell you different" -- that line really worked for me for some reason, and helped the later joke (embedded in a terrible scene), "Why didn't you make him stay in school!"

- Blowing the dart back through the blowgun (never mind the problem that I expect a dart to have only one pointy, poison end);

- Punching Mac in the nose as promised (but "I'm gonna break your nose" a few minutes earlier was a pretty feeble threat);

- So help me, I liked Mutt's Wild One persona;

- Cate Blanchett's performance (the only really committed one in the film);

- "They weren't you, honey," and the very Spielberg touch of cutting away for a moment, only to cut back to see the smile that has spread across Marion's face (if only it hadn't gotten stuck on there);

- The hints about Indy's activities in WWII; and

- After that damnable UFO zips away (into the "space between spaces" -- ugh), the breathtaking visuals of water cascading into the void and filling it up.

Although I've come to praise Crystal Skulls, not to bury it, I can't resist a parting criticism in the form of one more word about that mushroom-cloud scene. A gigantic tableau like that suggests that the story is going to become about that moment, somehow, which should have been transformational for Indy. Juxtaposed with the interrogation scene, I really thought the movie was going to say, "This is what was wrong with the world at this time," and Indy's efforts were going to right the problem in some small way, like keeping the Ark or the Grail out of the Nazis' hands once did. That it failed to do so -- that the nuclear blast scene was just another little misadventure, a sideshow -- was the biggest disappointment for me of all.

Anonymous said...

Yes, gold isn't magnetic. Fine. But isn't it interesting that something that is intensely magnetic inside a lead box inside a thick wooden crate is rendered magnetically powerless when placed inside a shirt or leather bag?

crmbcrspcoating said...

Great post, very articulate. I'm sure glad someone felt the same way I do.

Mystery Man said...

I'm going to try to address everyone, but that may grow difficult if this gets too popular...

anon - Thanks so much. I'm sure that'll happen! Everyone hates a critic. But good blogging is also selling the drama.

craig - I loved the Corky St. Clair comment. That's hilarious.

James - I agree! Loved this comment, "Structure is great. But you need great content to fill out structure too."

Pat – Me, too! This is my final Indy send-off. Thanks again for your great thoughts.

Laura – Thanks so much for those comments. The not-developed-yet aspect bothered me, too. How did they know it was developed or not? How did they know that a non-developed skull wasn’t what was needed in that chamber? Re: “I didn't get why the alien looked at her like she deserved to get melted. She didn't seem to deserve all that.” That’s exactly how I felt. Plus, a C is an F when it comes to Spielberg and Indiana Jones.

Emily – Exactly.

Anon – That’s a peeve of mine in many films. The acceptance of death was done NOT because it was in the nature of the character but to make it easy on the audience. That’s ridiculous.

Ashley – Yes! I meant to talk about that, but ran out of room. I think the opening should institute a new theory about screenwriting. The Big Bang of Openings! If you open with a big bang, you damn well better close with an even bigger bang! Most of the critics talked about this scene as if it was meant to show us that we’re in a new atomic age. Okay, but what does that have to do with the story? Great to meet you.

Rayanne - Thanks, honey.

Kevin – The Top Critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave the film 63%, which seems more in line with the actual quality of the film, if you ask me.

Hey, Michael – I’m just selling the drama, but you have a good point. I liked the New Haven chase sequence and the jokes in the library. I was okay with the opening drag race / American Graffiti nod, too. And it was beautifully shot. But that’s about it.

Anon – Were there any lines you didn’t like in the new film?

Anon – While you’re correct, gold WAS mysteriously drawn to the crystal skulls, which gets explained in the film. The crystal attracted certain non-magnetic objects like gold, iron, nickel, etc.

JJ – I salute you, my friend!

Brian – Did he really? I could’ve sworn… Well, thanks for that. It’s too late to change it. You’re right, but I still stand by my complaint about 13. He helped them find a box that he knew had magnetic properties but didn’t know it’s actual content? That’s too much silliness.

Bob G – Loved the colonel tying his shoelaces moment. Yeah, loved the motorcycle moment! Yes, liked Indy’s change of position about Mutt’s schooling, but there was a bit of overkill with that joke. We heard it at least twice, maybe three times. It was only funny once. Loved that Indy was part of OSS. I couldn’t agree more about that damn mushroom cloud! Brilliant!

Anon – Exactly!

Crmbcrspcoating – Thanks so much!

-MM

Anonymous said...

Ha, ha, it's always extremely amusing to read such insightful gold from the armchair critic brigade.
Keep it up gang !

Marc said...

That was awesome. My bf was critical of Harrison Ford, but I honestly thought he did the best with what he had. The old man needed some Viagra, but he could've also used more stimulating material... Did they rush this into production because Ford insisted on it being done by a certain date less he refuse to do it at all?

Anonymous said...

Mr Thau please, create CGI gophers and CGI monkeys and CGI ants and CGI aliens rule the world scene.

Russell said...

Great article. Overall, the film is so inconsequential. Lucas lost it years ago, no surprise here, but genuinely sad that the score was so sub par.
"Sanitised" is the absolute perfect description for the violence except during some parts during the jungle chase, it really looks as if the Russian Bullets cannot miss.
Shame on Indy not firing a gun!

Anonymous said...

Don't throw all the blame on Koepp's shoulders -- he's just the credited screenwriter. His task was probably more taking the ideas of the principals (and all the drafts and treatments that came before) and compile them into something resembling a screenplay, rather than from a purely creative standpoint. It's not like he was writing a spec -- I'm sure he knew how utterly unnecessary the whole venture was. But NOBODY would turn down a seven-figure paycheck (ad infinitum, with royalties) and an Indiana Jones movie on your filmography, no matter how strong you may claim your ethics are...

crossword said...

I have it on good authority that George purchased that skull from the Franklin Mint. Model# 13 (as it is called) is high-grade/low-weight 10:90 mix of cubic zirconium and contact cement. Properties include simultaneously attracting metal and repelling fanboys.

Another Koepp boo-boo... similar sounding character names. Mutt, Marion and Mac?

Great post, MM.

Steve H said...

Damn,
I knew I didn't really like the film but I couldn't put my finger on exactly why. You put you fingers, toes and that other appendage squarely up the ass of this stinker. Nice job.

purpletrex said...

One other big question I had was who exactly were the people who guarded the skull(s)/skeletons?

There is mention that they are the "undead," and in one scene it appears that they are emerging from the plaster/rock walls, but if Ox had already been to that city and encountered the tribe/cult/sect, would they not have already broken free from the walls?

Did they re-entomb themselves after the first encounter with Ox?

If indeed they were the "undead" and were entrusted to guard the alien remains, they sure sucked.

Ryan said...

Sounds like this movie wasn't good at all. I haven't seen it yet and seems like it's more bad than good.

How was the Structure? Sounds like they did some boring stuff in the 2nd act and impossible stuff in the 3rd act.

Sounds like this is one of those movies that did bend the rules when it comes to the whole Structure aspect of it all.

Was this the worst of the four films???

Jim said...

Fantastic post, totally nailed the numerous and dissapointing problems with the film. I'm a hardcore Indy fan, but everyone I talk to who has seen it says the same thing - strongish first act, ok second act, dire third act... and audiences DO get pissed off with lazy scripting, poor exposition, lack of consistency with previously established characters and the Indy films in general... hell, when the office secretary is complaining that Indy never lost and regained his hat you know you've got a stinker of a movie...

Anonymous said...

I think you missed the other glaring problems with the film.
1) The house would have been destroyed by the cyclone. 2) There's no way that the two guys could be rowing a boat in the funnel cloud. 3)The impact of the house would have killed not only the witch of the east but Dorothy as well. 4) Why were the munckins ready to celebrate the death of the wicked witch-- did they know it was coming? 5) Doe sthe field of poppies outside the emerald city seem to imply that the Wizard of Oz is in fact an opium dealer. 6) And WHy was that bucket of water there?

There are 311 million reasons wwhy your 50 flaws of Indy IV don't matter. And the above is just to point out that you can do that to any film--even the greatest ones.

Joshua James said...

Point of order, anon - the above flaws you describe (and incorrectly ascribe to Indy IV) with the Wizard of Oz are not flaws in that they are happen within a dream sequence - therefore the house could survive, the two men could be rowing a boat, munchkins, all that are certainly reasonable actions / events within a dream, so . . . there you go.

Mystery Man said...

Anon – thanks

Marc – The script felt rushed to me, but Koepp said he spent a year writing it.

Anon – Hehehe…

Russell – I believe Indy fired his gun in Peru, shot one of those guardians of the graveyard, but the moment wasn’t very special.

Anon – True. But characters come first and writer has to fight for what’s right for the characters and little things like making sure the dialogue’s fun and subplots are resolved.

Cross – “repelling fanboys.” Hehehe… True, that is another boo-boo.

Steve – Thanks, man.

Purpletrex – That was my question, too. If they were the “living dead” then how could that one guy die from the dart? They’re dead, but they can die twice? Great point.

Ryan – Structure was fine, but no tension. Yes, it was the worst.

Jim – Yes, they do get pissed! There is, I believe, an unspoken relationship between the audience and the writer in films.

Anon – By that rationale, there’s no such thing as a bad movie. If that’s what you believe, you’re greatly mistaken. But you need to reread the article, because I did more than talk about plot holes. I addressed severe character issues, the biggest being Indy’s under-motivation, which was a fatal flaw.

JJ – There YOU go! Hehehe… Will respond to your e-mail soon.

-MM

Micmac said...

Indy aside, I wait with bated breath for your review of Shyamalan's "The Happening"

:)

Azrael said...

Brilliantly done, my friend.

This sum-up of pretty much everything wrong with this reprehensible movie is much needed, and means I can simply link to it every time someone tries to defend the film, thus saving me valuable minutes of my life typing on a keyboard.

Jim said...

You nailed it hard, MM. This Indy felt as rushed as did "The Lost World: Jurassic Park II". The reason that felt rushed was Spielberg was, so we're told, in a hurry to get to "Amistad". Did he rush through Indy IV because he was in a hurry to get to "Lincoln", or because the "magic" of obscure mysteries and aliens has faded a bit for our man Steven? This was a dispirited performance.

But, Armond White loved it!http://www.nypress.com/21/21/film/ArmondWhite.cfm

And why it is impossible to take White seriously any longer.

Win Rosenfeld said...

Dead on. Great post.

Anonymous said...

Aaaahhhh!!!! Relief! I am so glad that you were able to put 100% exactly into words all of my thoughts during that dreadful film. I just kept sinking lower and lower in my seat sighing in mortified disbelief. As the lights came up and I was asked what I thought, my reply was simply, "I need my memory erased." Hopefully I can now put this tragic time behind me. There are, in fact, only THREE Indiana Jones movies (and the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which I also think are quite well done for the most part). Let us honor them appropriately.

Mystery Man said...

Micmac – Hey, man! Great to hear from you. Early reviews are coming in and like Indy IV, they’re scathing. I’m of the mindset right now that anything can be better than Indy IV, so I don’t know. I recently sat through Coppola’s “Youth Without Youth” – a convoluted, confusing, episodic narrative, and I still liked it better than Indy IV. By the way, you never told me what you thought of M Night’s script…

Azrael – Thanks so much. You’re very kind. Link away!

Jim – It really was dispirited. I completely agree. Poor Armond. I know friends who read him regularly, but I never got into his reviews. I find myself enjoying James Berardinelli lately.

Thanks, Win. I really appreciate it.

Anon – “Aaaahhhh!!!!” Hehehe… That made me laugh. Glad you liked it. I certainly won’t buy this one on DVD nor watch it again. I had to sit through it twice for the sake of this article, and that’s twice too many.

-MM

nic said...

MM- What's the +/- on repeat viewing? I was feeling compelled to check it out again just to see if I could ignore my original reactions and go with it. It's also probably some desperate loyalty that I haven't yet shaken.

Mystery Man said...

Well, it's definitely not as bad the second time around. I picked up on a few details I missed the first time, but I can't say I was any happier with the film. The second audience laughed more than the first one and there wasn't any booing. Kinda funny: with both audiences, the experience started with huge excitement and when it was over - deers in headlights.

-MM

Mim said...

We who respect story and character and dialogue decry how the STORY of this latest Indy installment was overlooked for the special effects and set pieces, but this seems to be the trend.

Transformers, Speed Racer, Die Hard IV, and now Indy. All of these movies overlooked story and concentrated on impressive special effects and exciting set pieces.

And as long as audiences pay for this, producers will keep giving it to them. We may criticize George Lucas for ignoring story and character, but he's still making money and making his audience happy.

Sorry. I had to point that out.

Anonymous said...

Nothing was mentioned about the motorcycle chase scene. Overall it was a fun scene with a couple of dumb things that made it obvious we were looking at a stuntman, but the real problem with the scene is that it served absolutely no purpose. Indy and Mutt are looking at a piece of paper in a malt shop, and the chase starts because two guys are after them. The chase ends in the library, the pursuers vanish, and Indy and Mutt go back to reading the same piece of paper... in Indy's house, no less, where apparently no one would think to look. The action sequence could be cut out entirely without affecting the story. This is horrendous screenwriting and as soon as this happened I knew which way the movie was heading.

Laura Deerfield said...

Something else I wanna know: How come, when they were chased through the anti-communist rally, Mutt and Indy didn't simply stop and point at the bad guys and shout "commies, get 'em"?

I actually thought they were going to, for a moment, and it turns out that a couple of other people I've talked to thought so to.

GameArs said...

For me, you nailed it at point number 1. I never felt like Indy had anything at stake here. There was never any momentum because Indy wasn't motivated, as you say.

COuld you please have at least 100 points in your next review? Thank you, you prolific word freak! ;)

SW said...

Don't sugar coat it.

Mickey Lee said...

Just a few points I'd like to add to MM's stellar work here:

1) Many of the elements of this script would've worked had they been implemented properly. I had no problem at all with the alien angle -- if it had been handled in the right way, it would've worked as well as any of the other artifacts.

2) RE: the Frankenstein nature of the script. This isn't anything particular to this film. The writers of the original three also had to deal with random lists of things that Lucas and Spielberg wanted and then find a way to string them all together. Let's face it, David Koepp is no Lawrence Kasdan.

3) Personally, I think the only blame that can be put on Harrison Ford is for going ahead with the film. His work in this movie was just as good as the others and as far as the acting goes, he's got nothing to be ashamed of. It's just a shame that Lucas, Spielberg and Koepp utterly failed him.

4) The only thing that could've been worse than this is if M. Night Shyamalan wrote the script. Undoubtedly it would involve the quest to find a writer (played by Night, of course) who's story will save the world. LOL.

James Patrick Joyce said...

Start at the beginning:

There was no reason for Indy to be in intro scene.

His good buddy was working with the Russians and, together, they couldn't figure out that private citizen Henry Jones would have NO knowledge of top-secret military installations?

Why did they kidnap him, rather than some desk sergeant who works in the warehouse?

Mystery Man said...

Mim – Thanks for that. I’m not sure how happy Lucas is making his most hardcore fans. Great to hear from you.

anon – I enjoyed the motorcycle chase sequence and thought it was a highlight, although how hard could it have been for the Russians to figure out where Indy lives? And I think one of the important aspects of an action sequence is that the characters are battling on their way TO something important.

Laura – That would’ve been hilarious.

Carl – I could’ve written 100 points but I liked the sound of “Fifty Flaws.”

SW – Hehehe… Next time, I won’t!

Mickey – Thanks again for your fantastic thoughts without which I would’ve only had maybe 30 flaws! I completely agreed with all four points. Four was hilarious.

James – Hehehe… Exactly.

-MM

Homage said...

Dearest MM, your comments as always are impressive, elucidating and valuable.

I think what I envy you is your ability to see this critically. I enjoyed the pic greatly while I was watching it (right up until the third act), yet it's just left me with this huge feeling of the insubstantial, and I've been unable to clarify for myself exactly what was wrong with it; but I think you've hit the nail on the head.

It would appear Indy movies follow a pattern of Huge Baroque Epic With Beautiful Abrahamic McGuffin followed by Middling, Self-Absorbed Pursuit Of Esoteric Artifact. In which case Mutt Ravenwood and the True Cross should be back on the money.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. It felt just like WotW, a similar screenplay that defied all logic.

Mystery Man said...

Homage, man! So great to hear from you! Loved this comment: "It would appear Indy movies follow a pattern of Huge Baroque Epic With Beautiful Abrahamic McGuffin followed by Middling, Self-Absorbed Pursuit Of Esoteric Artifact. In which case Mutt Ravenwood and the True Cross should be back on the money."

Anon - You're very kind. Thank you. I must say that this would not have been possible without all those I thanked at the bottom of the article, particularly Mickey Lee. Over a period of a couple of days, Mickey Lee and I were shooting e-mails back and forth listing everything wrong with the film and then I went to see it a second time to clarify certain thoughts.

-MM

Michael said...

MM, well done mate for an exceptional piece. Being the big Indy fan I am, I've been trawling reviews and fan responses all over the net since seeing this film and I find yours to be the most accurate appraisal of where the whole venture lets us down...

For me, I was always waiting for that moment of absolute catharsis which the character of Indy promises to deliver: that moment where the chips are all down, where Herr Jones is so far behind the eight ball that we can almost feel his visceral pain... and then... Indy (via the genius of Mr. Harrison Ford) gets that incredible glint of determination in his eye... and the Raiders march swells... and then -- BAM!! -- Henry Jones Jr. is out punching / riding / whipping - and in that singular moment of brilliance we see - as Robert McKee describes - a true character revealed through action.

Unfortunately, that moment never happens in 'Crystal Skull'.

Instead, in its place, Spielberg, Lucas and Koepp shift the drive of the action over to the enforced 'heir' in the form of the younger Mutt, and this, in my opinion, is the biggest disappointment. (I have no problem with Shia's acting, BTW).

Indy is rendered so passive and neutered in that third act, so much so, that I have trouble understanding how the creatives who envisaged this whole character in the first place could translate that particular script to the screen...??

If they were worried about Ford's age, it's doubly disappointing to see the actor in such good shape and humour, only to have his eventual characterisation cut out from underneath him.

Aliens, excessive CGI, over lit cinematography, monkeys with hairdos (!) -- all of these much discussed and derided issues I could live with, if they had only just delivered an Indy who drove the story and brought home the third act.

Where was the Indy who saves the day? He was replaced with one who pulls up a comfy rock to rest up his feet after an, albeit unusual, afternoon stroll.

Mystery Man said...

Michael - Two comments I really loved:

1 - "For me, I was always waiting for that moment of absolute catharsis which the character of Indy promises to deliver: that moment where the chips are all down, where Herr Jones is so far behind the eight ball that we can almost feel his visceral pain... and then... Indy (via the genius of Mr. Harrison Ford) gets that incredible glint of determination in his eye... and the Raiders march swells... and then -- BAM!! -- Henry Jones Jr. is out punching / riding / whipping - and in that singular moment of brilliance we see - as Robert McKee describes - a true character revealed through action."

2 - "If they were worried about Ford's age, it's doubly disappointing to see the actor in such good shape and humour, only to have his eventual characterisation cut out from underneath him."

I couldn't agree more! That's exactly how I feel. Thanks so much for your very kind words.

-MM

Anonymous said...

What was the point of Mutt bringing the motorcycle on the plane? He instantly left it in the town, where it seemed like it would be stolen. Then we cut to him covering it with branches (to come in handy later?? Nope), and then when captured, he complains about it being left behind. And then... nothing. Not even a joke or glimpse of it (or a new one) at the wedding? Are we really supposed to believe that he brought his motorcycle ALL the way to Peru on a plane JUST so they can drive through the forest together to the skull? (Although never seen). Surely Indy could have gotten a vehicle once he was there no problem.

Tim Clague said...

A short reply - no clever stuff - but I agree with all you say MM.

As writers I think we can all sympathise though. For all the clever plot stuff and what not - actually making the audience care remains the hardest task. Even for the greats.

Mike said...

good postlajb

LBB said...

Thank you for fighting the good fight. It may be making tons of money, but that doesn't make it good. A lot of that money was made off of fans of these movies who went in hoping for another great installment and were given Lucas' ass instead. So, not all of its profits are a testament to the movie's quality. So, thank you for putting into words a lot of the disillusionment of real Indy fans. It serves a purpose.

Anonymous said...

I know what went wrong with Spielberg:

http://www.imdb.com/video/wab/vi350748953/

Anonymous said...

For me the best bit of the movie was that glimpse of the Ark of the Covenant in the warehouse scene. I was hoping they'd bring it into the plot somehow... And i'd like to see the contents of EVERY box in that damn warehouse. Now THAT would be a sweet movie!

Anonymous said...

I have to say I disagree. I will not however, do the usual thing and "trash' you. Fist off, obviously Indy could have died 168 times, if the film were made in a way that he could never have died there would have been no excitement at all. Now we all have to remember this is an Indiana Jones movie. All bets are off, obviously there are going to be unrealistic moments. In Raiders I doubt its plausible that when you open an ark faces would melt, and pardon me, Indy could have died MANY times over in Raider, Temple of Doom and last crusade. Where Harrison Ford's performance being without excitement, I think its a matter of opinion, I liked him. Also, I do understand where you're coming from with the whole "Its funner if HE WANTS the item", but i do understand where Spielberg was coming from, they obviously didn't want to copy the previous films, they wanted to do something new, it worked for some people but not for others. Now, Indy didn't necessarily need to know what was in the box to know it was magnetic, I happen to remember it still being magnetic when it was covered. Also the body was wrapped in some weird skin thing that Irina had to cut through, maybe Indy never saw what was inside this skin stuff, therefor didn't know what he had dug up. I agree with you on the FBI subplot, it was a little dumb. Those 3 "Wasted" character, were there purely to give us a little more info on Indy and what he'd been up to the last few years, it also told us a little more about Irina and her motives. You're right about Mac, he was useless, but I enjoyed him none the less. The diner scene seemed fine to me, but I can understand where you're coming from. Once again, indy wasn't sure what he gave away in the warehouse, which explains why he dismissed the story, he didn't know the two were related, he thought the crystal skull was something completely different, and no offense but everyone I know did not have a problem understanding this. Now I think you may have wanted to name 50 problems and had trouble after around thirty and got desperate to add more, because the scorpian bite was 30 seconds of the film, I'm sorry if everything has to advance the plot for you, sometimes its good to stop for 30 seconds and make a joke. And who cares about the verbal error. I don't happen to think that discovering the skull was simple, yes once they walked underground for half an hour finding secret tunnels and fighting psycho guardians, it was right there, but obviously it was hard enough that no one had found it for thousands of years. You're right about the metal though, they forgot about that a couple of times. Now, once again perhaps you were too upset about the first act and maybe you weren't concentrating on the second, because I found it very simple to understand, and I've seen the film once. I do agree about Irina however, she wasn't a great villain, this was something that bothered me throughout. I think your statement about never thinking Marion was in danger was, for lack of a better word, stupid. Obviously they're not not going to kill her off, and everybody knew that going in. The reason we feared for her in Raiders was because it was the first film and we didn't know how important she was. Mutt didn'
t know his mother as "Marion Ravenwood" he knew her as Mary Wiliams, perhaps she never told him that was her name, so your argument there is weak. You're right, Mutt could never take on a Russian army like that, just like Indy, couldn't jump out of a plane in a raft and survive, just like short round couldn't beat up grown men, just you can't pull someones heart straight out of their chest, or stick a rock in the barrel of tank and expect it to block missiles, but hey I guess you're right, this ONE situation was poor. When the choices are sink in the sand or get rescued by Russians and live awhile longer, see what you do. I liked Marion and Indy together, but that aswell is a matter of opinion. The gift int he third act was getting control of the temple's power and Irina chose to have knowledge. Have you ever seen the Die Hard movies, NOTHING makes sense, man before you go into this movie you MUST forget any sense of logic or realism and just have fun. It sounds like you sat there dissecting every moment, obviously some action scene like the chase will be unrealistic and pointless they're there to keep you entertained. just have a fun night at the movies. And for those of you who booed Shia when he went to put on the hat, you're really classy, I mean the kid just shot what was on the page and you're booeing him. That kid is a really good actor. If your going to have a fight where Indy acts his age don't make a movie, and if you do people would be complaining about how he didn't fight. The, way too many characters, argument is pathetic Last crusade had : Indy, his father, Marcus, Sallah, Elsa, Walter Donaven and you seemed to like that one. the whole "being ahead of the story arguement" is also quite poor. Mary is Marion????? No shit sherlock even if you didn't see every trailer you'd have known when you saw Karen Allen's name in the credits. You really knew Indy would beat the big soldier, I had no ideas i thought they'd kill Indy off!!!! LAME. I'm sorry I'm starting to be rude, I honestly respect your opinion. I'd like to also see you write a draft, obviously your ego is big enough so lets see it!!. Anyway I had to go to bed to I didn't counter all your points, moslty because I agree with some of them. Anyway, lets not trash a fun movie thats purpose was to help us forget our problems for two hours. Not watch it and look for errors. I hope you see the points I'm trying to make. I apologize for my grammar, and if this doesn't make sense it's because I countered his argument out of sequence.

jesse said...

I have to say I disagree. I will not however, do the usual thing and "trash' you. Fist off, obviously Indy could have died 168 times, if the film were made in a way that he could never have died there would have been no excitement at all. Now we all have to remember this is an Indiana Jones movie. All bets are off, obviously there are going to be unrealistic moments. In Raiders I doubt its plausible that when you open an ark faces would melt, and pardon me, Indy could have died MANY times over in Raider, Temple of Doom and last crusade. Where Harrison Ford's performance being without excitement, I think its a matter of opinion, I liked him. Also, I do understand where you're coming from with the whole "Its funner if HE WANTS the item", but i do understand where Spielberg was coming from, they obviously didn't want to copy the previous films, they wanted to do something new, it worked for some people but not for others. Now, Indy didn't necessarily need to know what was in the box to know it was magnetic, I happen to remember it still being magnetic when it was covered. Also the body was wrapped in some weird skin thing that Irina had to cut through, maybe Indy never saw what was inside this skin stuff, therefor didn't know what he had dug up. I agree with you on the FBI subplot, it was a little dumb. Those 3 "Wasted" character, were there purely to give us a little more info on Indy and what he'd been up to the last few years, it also told us a little more about Irina and her motives. You're right about Mac, he was useless, but I enjoyed him none the less. The diner scene seemed fine to me, but I can understand where you're coming from. Once again, indy wasn't sure what he gave away in the warehouse, which explains why he dismissed the story, he didn't know the two were related, he thought the crystal skull was something completely different, and no offense but everyone I know did not have a problem understanding this. Now I think you may have wanted to name 50 problems and had trouble after around thirty and got desperate to add more, because the scorpian bite was 30 seconds of the film, I'm sorry if everything has to advance the plot for you, sometimes its good to stop for 30 seconds and make a joke. And who cares about the verbal error. I don't happen to think that discovering the skull was simple, yes once they walked underground for half an hour finding secret tunnels and fighting psycho guardians, it was right there, but obviously it was hard enough that no one had found it for thousands of years. You're right about the metal though, they forgot about that a couple of times. Now, once again perhaps you were too upset about the first act and maybe you weren't concentrating on the second, because I found it very simple to understand, and I've seen the film once. I do agree about Irina however, she wasn't a great villain, this was something that bothered me throughout. I think your statement about never thinking Marion was in danger was, for lack of a better word, stupid. Obviously they're not not going to kill her off, and everybody knew that going in. The reason we feared for her in Raiders was because it was the first film and we didn't know how important she was. Mutt didn'
t know his mother as "Marion Ravenwood" he knew her as Mary Wiliams, perhaps she never told him that was her name, so your argument there is weak. You're right, Mutt could never take on a Russian army like that, just like Indy, couldn't jump out of a plane in a raft and survive, just like short round couldn't beat up grown men, just you can't pull someones heart straight out of their chest, or stick a rock in the barrel of tank and expect it to block missiles, but hey I guess you're right, this ONE situation was poor. When the choices are sink in the sand or get rescued by Russians and live awhile longer, see what you do. I liked Marion and Indy together, but that aswell is a matter of opinion. The gift int he third act was getting control of the temple's power and Irina chose to have knowledge. Have you ever seen the Die Hard movies, NOTHING makes sense, man before you go into this movie you MUST forget any sense of logic or realism and just have fun. It sounds like you sat there dissecting every moment, obviously some action scene like the chase will be unrealistic and pointless they're there to keep you entertained. just have a fun night at the movies. And for those of you who booed Shia when he went to put on the hat, you're really classy, I mean the kid just shot what was on the page and you're booeing him. That kid is a really good actor. If your going to have a fight where Indy acts his age don't make a movie, and if you do people would be complaining about how he didn't fight. The, way too many characters, argument is pathetic Last crusade had : Indy, his father, Marcus, Sallah, Elsa, Walter Donaven and you seemed to like that one. the whole "being ahead of the story arguement" is also quite poor. Mary is Marion????? No shit sherlock even if you didn't see every trailer you'd have known when you saw Karen Allen's name in the credits. You really knew Indy would beat the big soldier, I had no ideas i thought they'd kill Indy off!!!! LAME. I'm sorry I'm starting to be rude, I honestly respect your opinion. I'd like to also see you write a draft, obviously your ego is big enough so lets see it!!. Anyway I had to go to bed to I didn't counter all your points, moslty because I agree with some of them. Anyway, lets not trash a fun movie thats purpose was to help us forget our problems for two hours. Not watch it and look for errors. I hope you see the points I'm trying to make. I apologize for my grammar, and if this doesn't make sense it's because I countered his argument out of sequence.

Indiana Jim said...

I am Indiana Jim, and as a close personal friend of Earl's, let me give my perfectly reasoned response:

WAAAAAAAAAH!!!! I'm a geek who expects too much! WAAAAAAAAAH!

Look. Radiers and Crusade are films in a class all their own. Temple and Skull need not be compared to MASTERPIECES of cinema. The fact that we're judging Skull on the merits of masterpieces, knowing full well going in that this was probably not going to be a masterpiece, is the height of folly.

And Earl, you think WAAAAY too much about these sorts of things. You're too close to your medium, methinks.

Earl Newton said...

@indianajim: It wasn't my idea to try and create a sequel to a series of masterpieces (Raiders, etc).

If I make an original film, it's unfair to expect a masterpiece. When I announce I'm going to make Citizen Kane II, it's unfair to deliver a poorly-structured film and hope people will write it off as "it's a serial! It's supposed to be like that!"

Tee Morris said...

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, as a raging fan of Indiana Jones, thank you.

This film lost me when Cate Blanchett tried to read Indy's mind. When I saw the crate's label reading "Roswell, NM" I thought "This is going to suck." and I was right.

The argument by many Indy fans, I've heard, was "Well, it's an Indiana Jones movie. What would you expect? It's camp."

That is a weak-ass excuse for such piss-poor film making.

Yes, the original trilogy has always had its tongue firmly planted in cheek, swashbuckling, and good serial-adventure fun, but never once did the previous Indy scripts insult me like this one did. The feel of CRYSTAL SKULLS is trite. To really see what I mean go and rent/buy RAIDERS and compare Marion Ravenwood's first scene to her return in SKULL. In the first film, Marion is cooling off her temples, sees Indy, and then walks up to him, coming to rest her hands on her hips. In SKULL, Marion sees Indy and after a weird, awkward pause, puts her hands on her hips. Look at Allen's body language. Instead of natural, the gesture looked choreographed. I can hear Spielburg telling Allen "Okay, when you see Harry, put your hands on your hips JUST LIKE THE FIRST MOVIE. THE FANS WILL LOVE IT."

No, we won't.

I felt this through the whole movie -- like I was being patted on the head and given a great big smile. "See, you'll really like this because it's a NEW Indiana Jones movie!"

Another huge insult was that according to Lucas and Spielburg, this was a script that had been under development for years. Years. Funny, it came across as a script that was thrown together after a weekend at IndyCon 2006, shortly after Connery said "I'm retiring." When you compare this steaming pile to this fan-produced podcast, you might wonder how Hollywood professionals screwed the pooch. For all its flaws, THE WELL OF LIFE (the podcast) was a LOT more fun than SKULL because they kept it simple: Let Indy be Indy, practice archeology, and go after the Fountain of Youth. Keep it simple. That was where this script needed to start -- what is Indy looking for? The Fountain of Youth? Blackbeard's lost treasure? Atlantis? This is what Indy looks for...not Ancient Astronauts. YEARS of development, especially if you went back to the original films and considered what did (and didn't) work in previous Indy films, would have told you that.

Then comes the greatest insult of all: We were expected to love this movie because everyone was back, because it took years to develop, and because Spielburg and Lucas were giving us what we wanted: a new Indiana Jones movie.

Thanks, but no thanks. I would have been quite content with LAST CRUSADE...THAT was an Indiana Jones movie.

jesse said...

OK, I guess there's no convinving anyone, it's all a matter of opinion many people liked it and many people didn't. I think it's safe to say that would have happened no matter how good or bad the film was. I loved it, you all hated it. Well I guess its a good thing the majority of the people liked it. last time I checked when the majority likes a film it's a success. Keep trashing I guess, you guys are too closed minded on hating the film that you won't listen to reason. I guess you could however say the same about me.

Carlo Conda said...

"I think it's safe to say that would have happened no matter how good or bad the film was."

We are writers, not fan boys. The movie was not good based on its story, not legacy.

Jim said...

Great post. It sums up pretty much all of my complaints.

One of my other gripes was that the climactic scene of the movie (the alien spaceship taking off) was a shocking ripoff of the climactic scene in the first X-Files movie.

Tom said...

You forgot a huge flaw with the film. Indiana Jones uses a skull to open the chamber with the other skeletons/skulls. You need to have a skull to get one of the skulls in the first place. Jesus this movie was a terrible piece of crap.

Mystery Man said...

Thanks for that, Tom. A friend sent an e-mail a few weeks ago and made a few more points I thought was interesting:

Okay, I've watched it twice on Blu Ray and each time I see it, it becomes less and less bad and more and more mediocre. But a couple of things occurred to me that i hadn't really picked up on in the theater

1) What the hell was Koepp talking about he wasn't going to recycle old dialog from the earlier films? This film is LOADED with lines from the other 3 movies. I think he just didnt want to use Darabont's line... the prick!

2) That jungle-cutting machine was awesome! Why the hell didn't they base that entire jungle chase around that machine? (like the tank in Crusade and the truck in Raiders). Instead they have Indy blow it up at the very beginning and we're left with a very trite jeep chase.

3) I originally thought that the movie takes a (really) bad turn when Mutt enters the film, now I'm actually realizing it's when Marion is introduced. And how pathetic is that?

4) The plot really is waaaaaaay too similar to Crusade.

5) One good touch that I picked up on -- Indy wears his shoulder bag OVER his jacket instead of under it -- as if to show that he learned something after getting stuck on the tank turret in Crusade

6) Mutt swinging like Tarzan is still the stupidest thing ever.

7) The opening sequence is too long. They should've went with either the rocket sled or the atomic bomb, not both....

viktor said...

You could read the shooting script here:

http://www.sendspace.com/file/fgtm5d

Mystery Man said...

Thanks for that!

-MM

Hugh said...

These are all good points, but it's interesting how a lot of logic points are forgiven when motivation is clear and characters are sparkling.

For example, I know it's kinda sacrilege to criticize Raiders, but in recent viewings I've noticed some strange transitions. The biggest one is the scene where Indy, with his rocket launcher, confronts the Nazis, who have the ark and Marion. At least the creators knew enough to have Belloq call Indy on his stupid shit, because what did Indy think was going to happen? Did he think the Nazis would hand over Marion and the Ark? He's lucky they didn't just shoot him in the head, which is what they should have, and probably would have, done.

But by that point in the movie, you're so in love with everything that you forgive that awkward logic and bizarre transition into the abrupt ending...

Mystery Man said...

Hugh - Exactly! I watched Raiders again not too long ago, and I couldn't believe the transition from the boat to the secret island. AS IF the submarine would float on the surface ALL THE WAY to that island. Hehehe... And the establishing shot of the island is very different from the island itself. But, as you said, you're so in love with the damn thing, you don't care.

-MM

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