Monday, May 26, 2008
So...how was it?
In a word...kinda. In three words...yeah, I guess.
In some more words...I grew up with the Indiana Jones movies as these epic ideals of hyper-manhood, adventure and reverence for ancient cultures. They were amazing movies that blended humor and action and Nazi-fighting into this crisp package, tastier than tempura sushi. In short, I have a pretty high opinion of the Indiana Jones franchise.
How can 2008's Crystal Skull really live up? In 1985's flawed Temple had come out after the rest of the series had percolated into the legendary status it holds, would I be as ready as I currently am to gloss over the apparent flaws? Is it time that makes Skull so hard to love?
This is not to say that there aren't moments. There are instances where I almost lost myself, where I thought that I was in classic Indy territory once again. And then a gopher joke, a pack of swinging monkeys or a crotch gag would remind me that I'm still firmly in George Lucas' world where the beloved icons of my youth lose their teeth and their chutzpah in the name of tying up narrative loose ends and getting cheap laughs. (Remember the poop joke in 1999's Phantom Menace?)
Let's not be hyperbolic. It's a better movie than most. Typically a movie this good would easily make my year's top three. The problem is I was not sufficiently blown away. It was not sufficiently superlative. I was not as dazzled as I ought to have been. Is this an unfair standard? Perhaps, but when you place the "Indiana Jones" name on what otherwise would have been "just" a decent adventure movie, you expose yourself to the exacting standards of the past incarnations. It's just the nature of the beast.
After you've seen the movie, read this online discussion of it. It touches all the relevant bits and contains some thoughtful musings about nostalgia and fair critiquing. Honestly, any real fan of the series will have mixed feelings about the movie, but I can't imagine the reinvention of a beloved icon after 19 years off-screen having any less drastic an effect.
In the end I'm just grateful that it wasn't as bad as it might have otherwise been. Remember the Prequel Trilogy? Yeah, me neither.