24 May 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I am going to try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but if you really don't want to know ANYTHING about the movie, then you have no business reading a review of it.

I have a pretty high tolerance for crappy movies. I manage to derive genuine enjoyment from films that most people feel are a complete and utter waste of time (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III - they travel in TIME!). That said, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was, quite possibly, the worst movie I have ever seen. It was awful. It was so bad that it didn't even manage to become so bad that it was actually good (a la the second Matrix movie). No, it was just straight up terrible. And I didn't have particularly high hopes for it - I had heard it was a pretty crappy movie, so I went in with the bar set real low, but clearly, I had completely underestimated the suckitude of this cinematic feature. 

The film basically fails on all counts. Plot? Stupid. Not just dumb, but totally inanely irritatingly stupid. Oh my god. How can a plot be so ridiculous and yet so boring? Dialogue? Painful. Again, not so dumb that it's actually entertaining, just bland and dull. The acting? Meh. Whatever. Harrison Ford seemed like he just didn't give a shit. The sparkling charisma that is so appealing about Indiana Jones was completely absent. In fact, he only flashes that charming crooked smile once in the entire film. For the most part, he delivers his lines as though he were reading a box of cereal. The fight scenes - boring. But worst of all - the special effects. My god. I can't believe that anyone can produce such crappy looking special effects in this day and age. I was astounded. The opening shot of the film is of a prairie dog, and I literally was confused - wait? It's a cartoon? I don't get it. Oh, and of course, the whole ethnic/racial exoticization/stereotypes, but really, that was pretty much a given from the get-go. Though man, they take it to the maxxx. The dancing Russians, the random capoeira graveyard ninjas, the natives that apparently just wall themselves into statues and wait until someone happens by to attack... Oh, though I will grant the movie this - the Russian language stuff isn't bad. And Cate Blanchett's Ukranian accent isn't bad, when she's using it. Occasionally she trades it for the more standard British. Just to liven up whatever bland piece of dialogue she's delivering, I suppose. And then there's the category of "thing that were done so badly that you actually notice them, even though you would never notice that type of thing otherwise". To begin with, the movie is riddled with inconsistencies and minor flaws (most glaring - what a dazzlingly diverse college classroom! In the 50s! Who knew?). Then, there's the jarring issue of the horrific costumes. Both Shia the Beef and Harrison Ford are wearing godawful old man pants for the entire movie. Seriously. Somebody find that tailor and slap him across the face. Also, whoever did The Beef's hair, sweet christ. And the extras! Even the extras were awful! Or maybe one should say they were the best part? Because in scene after scene, the main characters are having some kind of important conversation, and meanwhile you find yourself peering into the background like "Wow, I wonder what's going on over there?" The shots are so poorly framed that it almost seems intentional. There's an extended scene in a diner where Indy and The Beef are having a conversation that is highly central to the plot, and meanwhile, between their furrowed brows is this ASS. IN THE VERY CENTER OF THE SCREEN. Whenever one of them moves, you actually do the whole sideways motion trying to peek around them so as to continue being hypnotized by that skirt-encased butt. But luckily this turns out to be unnecessary, because it almost immediately reappears smackdab in the middle of the screen once again. You could bounce a quarter off that thing. It's incredible.

The major flaw of the movie though, is that it's just boring. Most of it is filler, as in, long scenes that don't drive the plot or contribute to the whole in any way, other than to push the movie over the 2 hour mark. Perfect example, the opening sequence. A bunch of army cars, and a car full of teenagers. The teenagers drive alongside the army guys and are somehow goading them on to go faster? Or something? It's rather unclear. And then they drive away. Wait, what? What was the point of that? Oh, there wasn't one. Alrighty then. Some scenes seem to be going somewhere, but turn out to be dead ends, leading to ridiculously bizarre contrivances just to get all the people involved back on track. Though that apparently isn't a huge concern, because there's a long chunk one of the characters vanishes for maybe 10 minutes and then reappears, no questions asked.

This movie has apparently been a good 10 years in the making, but the script was apparently written at the last minute by someone with a bad hangover. Various things seem like a spur-of-the-moment addition, like Ooooh! I know! How about, the Beef gets all pissed off when Indy and his mom are about to kiss! That'll be funny right? Let's do that! It'll add DEPTH. Or, oh! Hey! Let's have a swordfight! Ok, so for that to happen, we need to drop a line in there somewhere about how this guy took fencing in school, and, well, shit, we'll just have his opponent carry a sword around all the time anyhow. Why not? Or there are these gaping holes in the plot that the film rather inexplicably draws your attention to, but leaves unresolved. "Quartz isn't magnetic." "Neither is gold." "Weird. So how... Hey what's going on over there?"


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

absolutely true. To say I was disappointed would the understatement of any century. Crystal Skull is a movie trying desperately to prove that you can go home again and with every passing moment proves you can't. The premise(s)? too goofy to be believable, even for Indiana Jones. Sure, I could live with Indiana holding his breath on the sub going to the uncharted island in Raiders, but interdimensional space men?? Simply put, I could go for Harrison Ford doing another Jack Ryan before this awful dreck.