Monday, May 26, 2008
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Lost Plot
I saw the new Indiana Jones movie tonight...
I don't know what my problem is. After all, this movie's probably getting great reviews. I've only come across one review so far (which was favourable), but I'd lay money on all the standard superlative-laden cliches on 95% of all the reviews that ever come out: "an action-packed thrill ride!"; "Blanchett is fantastic!"; "a fun-filled adventure that leaves you on the edge of your seat!".
But the only reason I sat through it was because I'd invited my wife out for the evening and I didn't want to spoil everything. Yes, I'm saying I thought the movie was a waste of time. The story is convoluted and gap-laden; there's a crystal skull with magical powers, and some old professor friend, and Indy has to travel to Peru, and there's some lost city of gold, which turns out not to be of gold at all, but of "treasure", which turns out to not have "treasure" at all - or I should say, the "treasure" turns out to be knowledge, though we never even get to find out what the knowledge might consist of...and weird aliens who number fourteen, but also assimilate into one, and can waft in and out of our dimension, who are from "the space between the spaces"...and I would bet a thousand bucks that not one of ten of the people who emerge saying they loved the movie could give any coherent account of its plot.
However, there are all the requisite giant explosions and people-eating insects and car crashes and cutesy jokes and magical survivals after falling down three gigantic waterfalls and being shot at by fifteen Russian soldiers with machine guns ten feet away. And because the bad guys are the commies, there is also Spielberg's misguidedly dutiful depiction of how evil American anti-communists were (sort of a scaled-down reminder of Spielberg's attempt in "Munich" to show "both sides" of the 1972 PLO kidnapping and murder of Israeli athletes. "Both sides" of murder? Maybe Spielberg in the future will also take time to show us "both sides" of the Menendez Brothers story, the Ted Bundy story, and the Charles Manson story).
Cranky? Sure. I couldn't even stand all the hammed-out "Indy and Marion Together Again" nostalgia show (probably not least because the indescribable glee that Karen Allen understandably feels at finally finding another Hollywood job after twenty years just seemed to ooze off her in every scene. Everytime the camera panned over to her, her facial expressions were such that I thought she was going to start screaming, "thank you Steven! Oh God! Thank you! Thank you SO MUCH! FINALLY ANOTHER ACTING ROLE! FINALLY SOME MONEY!"). And that Indy and Marion ended up falling in love and getting along famously and then getting married, when their incorrigibly on-again off-again love-hate dynamic was firmly established two decades ago, seemed awfully forced. I just don't see it.
Anyway...I think that in an effort to keep things rolling, this movie tried to do way too much. It could still have featured lots of action; but clearer, tighter plot lines and more actual drama - as in, believable characters interacting with each other as humans in believable ways - would have helped (see "Casino Royale", which, for my money, combined these things very successfully).
Just my two cents,