PART ONE was one of the Rocket Blog’s most controversial articles ever! You’ve been waiting all week and now the second & final chapter of Rocket Video's Joe Fontes, epic beat-down of the new Indiana Jones
flick is upon us.
This point-by-point, scene-for-scene dissection of The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull may one day prove to be the Holly Grail of hate documents. If you want to see a grown man boil with pure abomination and anger toward a stupid movie, then look no further, until his contempt finally becomes a thing of beauty....
So here is PART TWO (of two) of Joe Fontes'
SPOILERS OF THE LOST ARK....
Okay, so back to the story.
Now we’re in South America looking for someone that the audience has never seen before to help some kid who Indy doesn’t know is secretly his son, despite the best efforts of members of my audience group yelling it at the screen as soon as he rides on screen.
We are taken to a convent/asylum where the mystery guy used to live. We use the same trick we did in the third movie and put the big “X” on the floor to tell us where to go next. That’s all we get from this scene.
We still don’t know who we’re looking for. And by now, I don’t care.
But we go someplace into the jungle to find something. Only it’s not really a jungle it’s a sound stage.
And what do we find at the first sign of the makings of archaeology in the movie? Ninjas. In “South America”. Not cool, Indy.
But after breezing by two of them in a completely blasé manner (he may actually have cracked the whip at them, I’m not 100% certain, I was rubbing my eyes to make sure I was really seeing ninjas), we enter the tomb of some dead conquistador.
Oh yeah, and there may have been a booby trap. One.
And it was not so much a life threatening obstacle as a tilting fulcrum. I’m serious.
He leans on the far side and it tilts. It doesn’t tilt him over a pit of piranhas.
It just tilts. Not cool, Indy. So now that we have narrowly escaped “leaving empty handed”, we find another terrific magnetic force coming from behind the dead Spaniard’s corpse. What could this be?
And once we move the dead guy, all the metal in the room starts to move toward the magnetic crystal alien skull. Because, of course, bones and mummified remains block extremely powerful magnetic attraction.
And then Indy determines that this place is not the skull’s original resting place and it must have been brought by our mystery boy. Because that’s what archaeologists do… bury stuff from one impossible to find location, in another impossible to find location.
But just as the B.S. flag is reaching half mast, Indy and Mutt get captured coming out of the first “hidden location”.
It’s Indy’s traitor buddy, Winstone, and he’s taking them to meet the “not necessarily bad, but definitely not on our side” guys. At least the same ones we met at the beginning of the movie.
That’s right, no new bad guys. No surprises. Except that we now get to meet the mystery boy. And other than knowing the actor John Hurt, I still have no idea who the heck this guy is. Not that I’m working hard to figure it out, because quite frankly it’s not interesting enough to hold my attention. It is obvious from his character’s appearance, that he is meant to be very old and decrepit.
I am firmly of the belief that his character was originally written as Abner Ravenwood, Marion’s father. Despite the fact that John hurt is only two years older than Harrison Ford, his make-up paints a different picture.
And the line Indy delivers to him saying, “She’s Abner’s little girl,” only makes me think they quickly rewrote “She’s your little girl.”
But of course they probably felt that having said he was dead in the first film, it would take a lot of explaining. Oh sweet Lord! You should have explained it! Anything to make me give a rat’s behind about this idiot! I think I would have at least cared a little bit about him if he was someone I’d heard of. He’s supposed to be someone that Indy cares enough about to fly to another continent to protect. So why do I not know him?
I’ve known Indy for 27 years! I think if this guy’s that important, he would have at least been brought up in the fifteen minutes before I find out he’s been kidnapped.
Instead he gets lumped in with Jim Broadbent as another pointless character.
But to return to the point, this “friend” has lost his mind. Or at least he’s acting differently than everyone who “knows” him is used to.
But since we’ve never seen or heard from him before, the audience isn’t noticeably affected by his “sudden” mania.
So we’ve been brought here to save this lunatic from some mildly irritating people who don’t even seem to have hurt him. They haven’t tied him up or anything.
In fact when we first see him, he’s dancing with them around a fire.
It looks like camping, not captivity.
But wait, is Cate going to torture Indy?
Could this be the opportunity to show us how tough he is?
No she just makes him look into the eyes of this crystal skull. This isn’t the least bit scary, by the way. He winces a little and then the Cate covers the skull with a cloth, thus rendering it inert.
No, really. She just drops a towel on it and that’s it. Where’s the evil?
The Soviets were the “Red Menace”, right? So why aren’t they menacing?
I know they’re not the Nazis. And I know that Russia is our friend now, but are we trying to say that they’re not really bad people, they just got a bad rap for the whole “Communism” shtick?
You know, we are in South America… didn’t the Nazis hide Hitler’s clone down there? Come on, Steven, you can bring the Nazis back. I won’t mind. I promise. I’d like to at least have someone with an evil laugh.
Sorry, folks, we’re stuck with the Minsk Milquetoasts.
So then the reds threaten to hurt Mutt, and Indy says, “So what?”
BECAUSE HE STILL DOESN’T KNOW HE’S HIS SON!
So they bring him out of the “torture-less” tent and say they have someone he does care about. Who could this be?
Do you think it could be Marion?
It better be Marion because if they expect me to care about another character I have never met before, I might just cry… no, thankfully, it’s Marion.
Everybody in the theater goes wild! Thankfully covering up the hopelessly stupid line of dialogue she says when she WALKS out of the tent… unimpeded by handcuffs, not tied to a stake slowly rotating over a seething pit of lava, not even gagged… unfortunately.
It even looks like they’re keeping her well fed. Sorry, couldn’t help it. She “Randal’s” out of the tent casually, and they are instantly re-smitten. No sexual tension. Just release. It’s been twenty years and everything’s forgotten. Not even a wisp of a fight. Not cool, Indy. Not cool.
So now, after showing him that they are at least closer to Marion than he is (since she’s obviously not under any semblance of duress), Indy is willing to help the Commies with their plan to find the other lost place.
I’ve already forgotten where it was or why they were going there, it’s so inconsequential.
In fact, Indy doesn’t even care at this point. He starts unfolding maps and smiling with the “Reds”. He’s in a great mood. He’s back with the girl from the first movie. He’s joined the festivities, just like every other person the Soviets have interacted with in this movie. Why should he care about anything else?
The audience sure doesn’t. The movie’s already over for us. The two people we wanted to see on screen together again are together again and happy. We can all go home and forget about the rest of the movie, right?
Yes. You can, and you should.
If you have made it this far into the film and not walked out, now is your chance. The rest of this film is pointless. Nothing else interesting happens from here on in… if you were interested in anything so far.
But unfortunately, there is still more.
Despite the fact that Indy and everybody else seems to be riding off into the off-color sunset, Mutt is unhappy. He doesn’t like the idea of helping the Commies, so he starts a fight and grabs the gang for a pursuit through the jungle, albeit a quick one.
Because fifteen seconds after they leave the campsite, Indy and Marion get stuck in quicksand.
The “psycho”, whose name I haven’t a reason to remember, gets sent to look for something to help get them out, and Mutt runs off too.
This may be the only scene I liked in the entire movie. We get a rundown of the last twenty years without each other. Marion tells Indy that Mutt is his son. Indy gets a laugh with the “why didn’t he finish school?” gag that’s been building since we met the kid. It’s a nice moment.
Then Mutt brings back a snake. Mutt keeps throwing the snake to Indy to grab onto to pull him out. It goes on for about five seconds too long with the “call it something else” bit, but it’s still a fun scene that works on all the levels it attempts.
And then the “psycho nut-ball” guy comes back with the “bad” guys as “help”. And the one good scene is over, and we go back to camp.
We move immediately to the prolonged “actually-effective” escape sequence. This felt like half the movie, and it’s probably where all the money went.
It’s a long car chase through the jungle just like the first movie, with Indy getting loose and throwing the driver of the truck in which they are being held, out of the window. Then he frees the others and they try to escape. This one continuous scene is ridiculous, over the top and only serves the plot-wise purpose of separating Indy and the gang from the Commies by about a fifteen minute head start.
The whole thing is obviously CGI and lacks any tangible action.
It all feels like they realized halfway through the script that they forgot to add an action sequence, and this was the only place they could fit one in. And since this is an “action movie” it has to be sizeable.
But frankly this is pointless overkill. Almost the entire sequence is shot with a crane in a green screen room. After Indy takes the wheel, the film shifts to the studio. The camera moves impossibly in between the cars and through the trees.
There are shots on cliff-sides that are incredulous and unnecessary.
But do not let me forget the most egregious sequence in film history.
This malapropism is so terrible, it actually affects my love of another completely unrelated film. I shall explain.
My favorite Charlie Chaplin movie is The Circus.
In one scene in that film, the Tramp is trying to impress the girl he loves by taking the place of the tightrope walker that she admires. Through a series of insane events, several monkeys are let loose into the tent where the Tramp is performing. These monkeys climb all over him, biting his nose and ears and covering his eyes, as he dances deftly on the high wire. It is possibly one of the funniest moments captured on film.
And Shia LeBeouf ruined it.
To be fair, he is not attempting to copy this trick, he is actually trying to play Tarzan… in an Indiana Jones movie. But the result is offensive.
Didn’t anyone learn from Peter Jackson’s King Kong that primates aren’t funny anymore? Yes, I include humans as primates, since that movie also rent the “funny” from Jack Black.
This sequence with Mutt swinging from vines as if he suddenly remembered some latent talent, long suppressed, is a travesty and should be removed from any further versions of this movie.
Since George and Steven are apt to change their films for video release anyway, I make this simple plea. Removing this scene from the DVD might actually make up for the “no guns in E.T. / Greedo shot first” debacles. Almost. But it’s worth a try, you two, even if I don’t forgive you.
So, back to the action sequence. We have the obligatory sword fight since poor Cate’s been carrying it around for the last hour and a half.
Oh yeah, and Shia mentioned he fenced, despite the fact he seems infatuated with his switchblade. The sword fight is more slapstick than action. In fact, the whole bit is literally a series of sticks slapping Shia in the crotch. It has to be one of the most awkward scenes I’ve ever seen. It isn’t funny. It doesn’t strengthen the action or add to the precarious nature of the fight. I think it might be to show how ‘tough’ Mutt is supposed to be… maybe?
I’m at a loss for a reasonable explanation.
And this portion of the scene lasts an uncomfortably long time. The perplexed look on my face while writing this should be entered as an illustration.
So Shia gets to fight Cate, because Harrison Ford doesn’t actually get to fight the main “bad” guy in the movie because she isn’t bad enough. Ford doesn’t get to sleep with her either, despite the fact that they hired a ridiculously attractive woman to play his antagonist. He does however get to fight the “heavy”, who eventually gets eaten by ants, because they’ve run out of cool ways to kill people and we’ve already recycled enough of the other plot devices from the first three movies, in a vain attempt to simply allude to them.
Oh yeah, he loses his hat once, but catches it when the ants try to carry it away, because this is a family film and ants making off with a hat that can’t be removed by a nuclear blast is funny, right?
No. Not funny. Not cool.
But we still aren’t finished. Marion mysteriously disappears with one of the cars into the jungle for ten minutes of this sequence, only to reappear when the fighting is over, to perform the most cartoon-like move I have ever seen in a live-action movie.
Despite this being a Paramount film, they borrow directly from a Warner Bros. cartoon and drop a car from a cliff onto a tree that bends down to dip the car, unscratched, into the water; and then the limb lashes back to whip the “bad” guys that are hanging on the edge of the cliff.
This doesn’t count as using a whip, you guys. Not cool, Indy.
So now we’re in the water and we have a ridiculously tired waterfall gag… three times. Steven, if I sigh at the first one, why are there three?
And what happened to the miniatures and the real waterfalls?
This whole thing was done in a computer. The best part of the first three movies is that there weren’t any computer graphics. They used camera tricks and stunts. This movie feels like it’s trying to be so big, it couldn’t possibly be made for real.
So, quite frankly, it doesn’t feel real. And it doesn’t look real. I got totally sucked into the earlier movies because they felt real.
In Crusade there really was a flaming fuselage speeding past Indy and his dad when they drove through that tunnel. I saw it. It was on fire and that pilot looked over at the two of them as he went by… on fire!
But not a single person went over that waterfall.
I know it. I saw it. It was fake. That hurt. Not cool, Indy.
So now we have an entire city hidden behind the nostril of some skull carved out of the waterfall face. They move ten, maybe twenty feet into the cave past the waterfall and suddenly, a wall breaks and they walk out into a large open mesa.
Didn’t they just fall down three waterfalls?
Couldn’t they see this from the top?
Are they still underground?
How can we see the sky then?
What just happened?
I don’t know, and we don’t stop to find out, because now we are being chased by a thousand inept Mayans or Aztecs or maybe it’s more ninjas. But the “psycho” mystery guy pulls out the skull and the pursuers run away.
So then they climb this hill and open the top of the pyramid and go down into a circular room with a bunch of shiny dead aliens. No really, that’s it. It happens that fast and it’s just as pointless.
But they’re not alone, because the Commies are right behind them. And the five of them left with machine guns are enough to kill the thousand or so native ninjas with absolutely no fanfare.
I’m giving this load of wasted opportunity its own paragraph.
I just remembered a very important plot device that should be told before I go further. Ray Winstone’s character is actually a “good guy” who was using the “bad” guys to catch up with Indy. Except that he isn’t really a “good” guy because he reneges and sides with the “bad” guys again but in the end he forgets both sides and just tries to steal stuff from the treasure room the aliens have in the pyramid.
Oh yeah, and he dies when he shows that he’s really just selfish.
This may be the largest sum of money paid to an actor who serves no purpose whatsoever, in movie history… this film breaks a lot of new ground for such a colossal waste of time.
It’s not Ray’s fault. He was probably just happy to be asked to work on such a cool “sounding” project. But I’m not really sure what the character is meant to accomplish. To say, “he has no arc” would be to imply he actually progresses with no resolution, but this character doesn’t actually do anything.
He doesn’t help Indy when he is on his side and he doesn’t help the Commies while siding with them. He doesn’t have any good lines. He doesn’t get to reveal something that only he knows. He doesn’t get any fight scenes. In fact, I can’t honestly remember where he is during the whole action sequence extravaganza. Or even which side he is on, during it.
The only things I can remember him saying are “Sorry, I’m with them,” and “I tried to tell you I was on your side, but you weren’t listening”. And his death scene is remarkably ambiguous. Even after serious thought, I still don’t understand why he says what he says. He tells Indy not to worry about him. They have a moment and then he goes off to get more treasure he can’t possibly carry away. He is going deeper into the temple, and he knows it is falling down around him.
I’m at a loss.
So at last we come to the biggest disappointment in the entire film… this far. Remember the shiny aliens in the big room in the pyramid? Aliens. I’m not kidding.
Yes, we are still in an Indiana Jones movie. And there are aliens.
Yes, this sucks just as much as you think it does. It turns out that the only Archaeology in the film was really done by the aliens prior to filming and they have unearthed a treasure room bigger than any museum. So really, Indy serves no purpose in any of his normal capacities here. He hasn’t found anything that the “nutball” didn’t find earlier.
And the aliens he was asked to analyze ten years ago turn out to be better at his job than he is. So not cool, Indy.
So the “psycho” regains his sanity when confronted with shiny alien skeletons, because, let me assure you, it’s a pretty sobering sight. Even if you’re drunk on the “action” so far, this is definitely a cold hard slap in the face. Any delusion you might have had about this still turning out to be a movie about Archaeology are now gone. This is not Indy IV, it’s Close Encounters II: of the Stupid kind.
The director even uses the same aliens.
So actually I guess this could be a prequel, chronologically speaking. Spielberg has managed to turn his entire career into a Mobius strip in one swift, deft motion.
But just to make sure we aren’t confused enough by his insertion of aliens into an archaeology movie, he explains they aren’t really from another planet, but another dimension. Really?
How does that make it closer to an Archaeology themed movie? Who cares?
This was officially a bad idea. I know you surround yourself with a lot of people who are happy to make the money you pay them; so let me be the first to tell you:
This was a mistake.
Not just making them extra-dimensional, not just making them look like the first aliens in a movie you also made, but by putting aliens into this magnificent universe you created that, until now, only reaffirmed religious hope in a morally bankrupt world.
In three other movies, you had showed us that even without the direct power of a god that the things that people give holy power to, hold onto those powers. No matter what anyone’s religion. A Hebrew God. A Hindu God. A Christian God. You made all human faith seem possible. You made us believe in the powers of something we couldn’t see. You never made judgment. You showed us possibility. There was still the mystery. There was still the need for faith.
But here you show us an “alien”.
You tell us their power and you show us how they came and how they left. There is no mystery. There are no questions. You show us evidence and leave us with facts. Regardless of what other religions say, this cult of belief, in the jungles of South America, are right. You prove it. You show us their God.
I don’t need to go to church anymore. I should just go to South America and wait for the aliens to come back. Thanks Steven. Now use my ten dollars to pay someone else to make you feel better, because I don’t like you anymore.
Sorry to get a little mean there. I guess I should get back to lighter things I didn’t like. Let’s talk about what everyone else is talking about. The wedding.
That’s right. In case someone else didn’t already ruin it for you, I will.
Indy marries Marion. What a gyp!
First off, there is absolutely no chemistry between the two of them in this movie. There are several obviously faked longing looks passed between the two of them, but the kissing looks like they’re related by blood, and this actually causes physical pain in their loins to be touching lips like this.
I had heard that they really didn’t hit it off while filming the first movie, but this looked awful. I believed that they never tried to contact each other for twenty years. I was not remotely convinced by this film that they would end up together.
When Mutt keeps them from kissing in the pyramid, they look relieved.
I thought the follow-up line should have been, “Next time, stop this sooner!”
And why would you end with this wedding scene. It puts a cap on such an odd action frenzy of a film that only “bottles-in” the confusion it tops.
John Hurt’s line about wasted time seems to be a thematic explanation, but to what? The movie hasn’t been about that.
The series of movies weren’t about that.
And then they make what seems to be a closing statement into a prelude by showing us Mutt trying to put the hat on.
Indy’s line of “Not this time,” is probably the scariest thing in the whole movie.
I covered my eyes when I thought they might show a flash forward of “Mutt Jones and the Diner of the Flaming Virgins” or whatever money-fueled stupidity Steven and George have implied with that line.
What this movie should have been is a short one-reeler containing the snake/rope scene and the first kiss between Indy and Marion in twenty years (Except that it should be a convincing one. Didn’t they pay you two enough to act?).
Two minutes. Clean. Simple. Cheap. Same result… except without the seething hatred inspired by the destruction of some of my fondest childhood memories.
So next time, just make something new.
You can cash in on your success by making another movie together, just don’t tack it on to the end of one your good movies.
Use your imagination. It is supposed to be the only inexhaustible source of energy in the world… just don’t make a movie about how you screw that up too.
Better luck next time.