Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Call me optimistic, but this is the first review that we've gotten that gives me a lot of hope for the movie. The themes this movie plays with, according to Mr. Flint, to me signals the kind of movie I was hoping for. Before you dive into the review, though, scope out trailer #3: WHIP IT HERE! WHIP IT GOOD! It's a weird trailer, that adds seconds onto scenes we've already seen with a few interesting glimpses at new footage (like the crop circle spider thing). It's not the best edited trailer... some shots going on for a few seconds too long, but there's some really cool stuff in there. Okay, now on to Flint's review, which I believe is our first review from a known spy and past contributor. Enjoy!
Only Mild Spoilers First off, Indiana Jones isn’t my cinematic nirvana. It’s not a seminal movie going experience for me like most people. Ultimately, what I’ve enjoyed most about the films is revisiting them with groups of friends over the years. Watching “Indy” is a truly fun thing to share. I enjoyed “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” After all, who doesn’t? Yet, it didn’t engage my emotions in the same way the first two “Superman” movies did or even the original “Star Trek” film series. ROTLA is a thrill ride that’s built for speed. Its classic status is underscored by how well it holds up decades and imitators later. Aside from the frenetic opening, I found “Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom” a bore. Kate Capshaw’s performance sunk every scene and Harrison Ford’s line reading of “We… are… going… to die!” still makes me cringe. Nevertheless, I find the film fascinating in retrospect, hearing George Lucas’ proclamation that the dark tone was the result of his wrenching divorce. That explains all the hearts being ripped out. What I liked most about “Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade” was the father & son relationship between Ford and Sean Connery. I respected the desire to add dimension to the main character and also the resolution, wherein Indy used his wits to save his old man. (Although, I agree with those who say Connery should have taken the knight’s place and stayed behind.) I never thought I’d see another Indiana Jones film, but after the return of Rocky, Rambo, and McClane… it became inevitable. (Catherine Trammel’s return doesn’t count. Sorry, this is a gentlemen’s club.) George Lucas should be commended for truth in advertising. He predicted that, after so much anticipation, no movie could ever meet the expectation of a rapid fan whose spent the last two decades imagining the ultimate Indiana Jones adventure in his mind. Given the iconic place these films hold, Steven Spielberg also didn’t set out to reinvent the wheel and fix what ostensibly isn’t broken. Sorry, a PG-13 “Die Hard” where helicopters explode and occupants pirouette out and land safely isn’t “Die Hard.” It’s “Die Soft.” During his Comic Con presentation, Spielberg said he was making this film for the fans. He certainly didn’t have to, as he can get any studio in town to greenlight a can of baked beans as a new movie. So, Mr. Spielberg… thank you. Thank you for making an Indiana Jones film for all those around the world who wanted another one. Thank you for making a film that fits comfortably within the canon you helped invent. Thank you for recapturing the spirit of your previous direction of the series, while also adding some subtle meditations that your later “serious” pictures have employed. Also, thank you for reminding us that Harrison Ford is indeed a major movie star who can hold the screen at any age, just like all the other greats… Marvin, Holden, McQueen and Wayne. “Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” blends many of the divergent elements of the first three. The jeopardy and stakes of the first. The darkness and rituals of the second. The generational differences, relationships and humor of the third. Oddly enough, the mix reminded me of a non-Indy movie, “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” wherein an aging, melancholy hero is galvanized back into action, reclaiming meaning for his latter day existence. It even has a similar relationship with a young man who has a large chip on his shoulder, for very good reasons, and a woman from his past reappearing. Marion Ravenwood’s name carries similar feelings as “Carol Marcus” in this context. I’ve read another reviewer of this film claiming disappointment the character of Indiana Jones wasn’t accorded the same introspection and ruminations of the last Rocky Balboa outing. The first and last “Rocky” movies, before the sequels became cartoonish caricatures, were both human dramas. They were character pieces heavy on dialogue and building towards inevitable finales in the ring. Indiana Jones is an action adventure series. While Indy acknowledges his advanced age, he does it in the context of how things are handled in “Indiana Jones” fashion. That doesn’t mean halting his exploits to pontificate ostentatiously on mortality. Sorry, "It's not the mileage, it's the years" fits this world. Unlike Rocky, Indy steps into the ring for combat after the first reel. What I loved most about the 1950s’ milieu KOTCS takes place in, which Lucas still has his “American Graffiti” affinity for, is how Dr. Jones is now truly just a senior member of a college faculty. There’s no way the young people around him could ever imagine this educator to be a world traveler and adventurer. He's the old guy, off in the corner, in the malt shop. The atomic age motif works like a charm with a sequence set in “Doomtown” being particularly memorable not just for its jeopardy, but also a subversive satirical streak. The Russians more or less act like the Nazis in the first and third film, with a similar trace of historical accuracy underpinning the proceedings. People have been gunning for Shia LeBeouf’s character from the beginning, but the actor more than holds his own against a formidable leading man. Young Shia adds a lot to the proceedings, is physically adept and enjoys solid interplay with Ford… especially being the brunt of a lot of Dr. Jones’ acerbic sarcasm. Ray Winstone is a resourceful actor, making more out of his subordinate character than another performer would. Karen Allen is a welcome return as Marion although, I’ll admit, she’s not as pivotal to this film as I’d hoped. The initial dialogue between Indy and his old flame crackles like from the first film, so it comes as no surprise that writer David Koepp in a recent interview acknowledges he sought help from original ROTA screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan for this exchange. Cate Blanchett’s Soviet Agent Spalko was not at all what I was expecting, especially her being a disciple of the fabled “thought police,” but once again… Russian obsession with ESP and psychic warfare are well documented. Ms. Blanchett engages in a psychological battle with our hero and her performance is so peculiar that on occasion I thought she was being directed by David Lynch. She distinguishes the film from all the others with her singular presence. The crystal skulls and their extraterrestrial origin are dealt with from an archeological standpoint so, despite outcries that science fiction doesn’t belong in the Indy series, it’s consistent with the previously established mysticism that’s come before. The culmination of this legend during the finale doesn’t have the old style Hollywood theological impact of the first film, nor the emotional payoff of the third, but it’s way better than the second. If anything, a lot of the finale’s destruction and conversion reminded me of “Total Recall,” but don’t take that as a debit. You’ll see what I mean. Some will say this movie is overstuffed, but I viewed it as a second trilogy all rolled into one. There may never be another Indiana Jones film, so they went for broke with nonstop set pieces that remind us Steven Spielberg can easily best anyone currently making their career as an action director. Some of his “old fashioned” techniques serve as a revelation in the wake of current post "Matrix" styles. His long lasting shots without frenetic cutting are particularly enthralling to behold. Still, I do feel we were bamboozled at bit by their saying CGI was underemployed… especially when one of the villains is dispatched by teeming insects vacationing from “Jurassic Park.” I also liked the fond, deferential ending a lot, as Indiana Jones movies seem to have a subliminal “To Be Continued…” during their codas. Still, this feels like the last one, but so did “The Last Crusade.” While they did ride off into the sunset there, Harrison Ford reminds us in an interview: "The sun came up the next day." One thing’s for sure, after the lights come up... true fans and new ones will continue “the man in the hat’s” adventures in their imaginations. While I can’t profess to know what Indiana Jones movie people will be expecting to see at 12:01 on May 22nd, I can say this about the one Lucas, Spielberg and Ford have given us: I liked it, a lot. And like all the others, I’ll look forward to seeing it again with friends and having a good time. Sometimes, that’s what a good movie is for. Derek Flint