Indiana Jones Disappointment

I was more than excited to see the latest Indiana Jones movie, but sadly the film just did not live up to the high bar set by the original trilogy. I think George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have just really lost their “touch” for film? The original trilogies of Star Wars and Indiana Jones were just top notch and classic, the pinnacle of adventure in film. So what made this film so tragic? I share some of the opinions of these savage reviews (except I feel “Last Crusade” was the BEST!)… the few things that stood out for me were: they went Overboard on the CG, turned action heroes into Fantasy Figures, had poor character development and some Weak Characters, had a Spoon-fed Plot line, tailored it to a Child Audience, and went for Sci-Fi instead of historical context. Warning: Possible plot-spoilers below.

  • Overboard on the CG
  • Films these days are using Computer Graphics like never before, as nearly everything in a film (including soon the actors as well I’m sure) can be rendered realistically by computers. Just because you can though, doesn’t necessarily mean one should. Perhaps I’m just jaded by how deceived audiences can be these days by the latest in CG technology, but this also lead to many fantasy action shots that were “just too surreal” for me… like driving the duck boat along the cliff edge and the jungle scene.

  • Fantasy Figures
  • This film turned Indiana – and even the supporting characters – not only into adventure heroes, but super heroes as well! Apparently Dr. Jones wears tights and a cape under that leather jacket! From surviving a nuclear weapons test, flying miles in a fridge and crash landing, to even surviving multiple drops from water falls in a truck at hundreds of feet — Indy lost any “touch” of reality to me, he became pure fantasy, and I guess I’m just disappointed that the appeal of the common man “to be like Indiana Jones” has been vaporized. It’s one thing to create “fantasy figures” doing fantasy things (or even in Star Wars it can be attributed to the powers of “the force” and the future), yet quite another to create supposedly “real figures” doing fantasy things — which my brain just can’t believe or accept. Oh, and “Mutt” becomes Tarzan for a moment too!

  • Weak Characters
  • Also, who is the worthy adversary? I did not find the Commie sword-carrying Irina to be up to par with Indiana. Also, “Mac” seemed to be quite poorly developed and it even got to the point of annoyance watching him “try to steal all of the gold” towards the end when you just know it will lead to his doom and he’ll never make it out. Contrasted with the “Last Crusade” sequence with Dr. Elsa Schneider, there was actually some compassion to save her and of course Dr. Jones, Sr. from falling into the crevasse – but with Mac’s constant deception, I don’t know why Indiana even stopped to “try and rescue” him. Apparently he is more compassionate than I, but still there was no “rescue” to be done – Mac justs needed to walk out and he didn’t. Where’s the tension? Also, while I know “Ox” filled a minor role, he was just too involved in the film to not have any proper character development! Who is/was he other than a crazy riddle babbling old man on the edge of sanity who happens to have a connection to the skull? And just what is the nature of this “connection” he and Indiana both shared by looking into the skull… did they acquire more special powers as fantasy action figures?

  • Spoon-fed Plot
  • Honestly, I felt the writing of this film was designed for an audience of 6-10 year olds. Heck, even if I was 10, I still might have been insulted by how every upcoming plot twist had to be spelled out and or at least alluded to continuously.

  • Child audience
  • I think this film, and actually all of Indian Jones/Star War films after the original trilogies — have really been written more for an audience of children rather than adults. There are so many action figures and LEGO toys for these films that they have attracted a younger audience perhaps? I think the original trilogies balanced that fine line so well of being suitable and entertaining for both adults (yet lacking any gratuitous sex and violence) and children as well – though they might get a bit scared at times! I was never really “scared” at any moment in this film like I had been by Raiders and Temple of Doom in particular. I think it’s a better strategy to create “grown up” films accessible by children, rather than “cartoon” films marketed towards adults and children.

  • Blending Sci-Fi
  • Ok, the whole “alien” connection to the ancient yet advanced pyramid civilizations in South America and Egypt is nothing new, and it’s certainly been covered in a number of Sci-Fi like stories including the X-Files book Ruins (which I’ve read), but I would expect that for the X-Files. I personally very much enjoyed the “supernatural power” connection of the holy relics Indiana previously chased (Ark of the Covenant – 10 commandments, Holy Grail – chalice of the Last Supper). However, now instead of the powers of “God” – we’re to be amazed by god-like powers of aliens from another planet? That just doesn’t sit well in the “Indiana Jones” genre for me. (True, the “Temple of Doom” had no religious context – but Raiders and the Last Crusade sit more firmly in my memory.) Though I see the connection of using aliens to explain archaeological mysteries — I think this may have more to do with “removing God and religion” (even in historical contexts) from the public sphere. I sensed this “religion taboo” along with an apparent more “politically correct” treatment of the women — hence a leading female villain and Marion is no longer the “damsel” that Indiana constantly has to rescue. Ironically, the perpetual bachelor Indiana Jones actually does get hitched in the end, something that twice divorced Harrison Ford and Flockhart planned in 2006 but will maybe happen this summer?

However, in the end – there is still that “Indiana Jones” style adventure (e.g. tracing legends and lost relics, digging up skeletons and treasures of ancient civilizations, fighting evil villains, and moments for stressing the need for a good education), he saves the day preventing the Communists from getting the prize, and he gets the girl in the end (The same Marion we hadn’t seen since the original Raiders). In reviewing Raiders of the Lost Ark, I noticed another signature classic of Indiana Jones — his constant and uncanny ability to get himself both INTO and OUT OF the most treacherous of messes with his enemies. So even with my criticisms, I still enjoyed seeing “Indiana Jones” again — he’s like that old friend you’ve so longed to see, that even though he’s changed, he’s still “Indiana Jones” and is always good for an adventure.

2 Responses to “Indiana Jones Disappointment”

  1. bernina activa 210 review Says:

    Most of the reasons, it seems, you didn’t like this movie are because of how it differed from the original Indiana Jones trilogy. Those are the same reasons I found fault with it. As an independent movie, I thought it was good, entertaining, and comical at times. But it failed in living up to the greatness of the original trilogy. It was nice to see Indiana again.

  2. Brian Says:

    This guy had similar things to say about the film – http://notaniche.com/indiana-jones-critic-steven-spielberg/639/

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