a weird fucking movie. The first Indiana Jones was about
digging up the lost Ark of the Covenant, only to find out it's
full of spooky ghosts that melt Nazi faces. At the time, that
was some pretty creepy supernatural shit. Now, a company called
Guthy-Renker sells exactly that sort of product to teens. The
second Jones was about, well, fuck if I know. I only
remember the people in it had to eat chilled monkey brains and
some kid rode in a runaway mine cart. The third one had Sean
Connery as a talking corpse, and a whole lot of folks were after
Jesus' Holy Grail. When they got it, some old knights reappeared.
I think. I'm not sure why God would have old knights appear
when it would be a perfect cameo for his son. And, good Lord,
if ever there were a pushy stage parent, it's the Supreme Being.
He really digs having his kid be in the spotlight.
us to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,
the fourth installment in George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's
paean to the Saturday matinee serials of their youth. I think
some people forget the whole link to the serials. But it's why
the movies have such hokey names and preposterous cliffhangers.
In that sense, I guess they are more justified in having silly
fights and stunts than the typical big-budget ass-dripper. Crystal
Skull is just strange. Stranger than supernatural arks or
lead grails, because it's about new-agey space aliens. Bad space
aliens are always violent and insensitive, but good ETs are
always touchy-feely hippies from far away. Almost the exact
opposite of the way real life is, where new-agers are the scariest
fucking weirdos on earth. If outer space is really full of patchouli-oiled
weepy creatures, I want the government to stop funding NASA
now. We have enough of their kind in Boulder.
Ford is back as Indiana Jones, of course, only this time he's
craggy and looks like he'd rather read a Dr. Seuss book to a
grandkid before taking a sitz bath. Wisely, the movie spares
us too many "I'm getting too old for this crap" gags. They're
there, just not in too many scenes. Personally, I hate those
sort of jokes because it's as if the producers think joking
about their retarded premise makes it okay to have a retarded
premise. Ford isn't playing the old Jones, he's playing an older
one, no longer pre-World War II. Now, it's the cold war and
the villains aren't Germans, but commies. Not the lovable because
they are drunk and incompetent kind. This is the really coldle
efficient, thick-jawed, watery blue-eyed kind. The main villain
is a severe woman with a bad haircut and baggy-assed pants played
by Cate Blanchett. She's a dominatrix/paranormal psychiatrist.
She and Ford want to find a crystal skull in Peru right about
the same time. Ford learns about it from a hair-comb-fetishing,
Arthur-Fonzarelli-aping Shia LaBeouf (pronounced hoo-tha-fuk-nose).
Apparently Blanchett has been on the lookout for awhile.
is an artifact from the Mayan civilization, although it's provenance
is unknown, and its shape is "strangely" elongated. The audience
is the first to figure out, and the characters on screen the
last, that it's a space alien skull. Makes it sort of lame when
Ford, LaBeouf and the rest catch up. Ford and LaBeaouf fight
their way through a haunted Peruvian graveyard and deep into
the rainforest, with Blanchett and a huge band of cold-warriors
Crystal Skull becomes a long-ass showdown in the forest
that goes way over the top. It involves a babbling archeologist,
a way-too-long and extremely improbable jeep race, LaBeouf swinging
from vines with monkeys, giant ants dragging villains underground,
a boat and its passengers surviving three massive waterfalls.
At Skull's end, Ford and his mates work their way into
a outcropping in a waterfall that looks like a skull. Inside,
they wander into a whole new world, plus some ancient Mayan
warriors, and then, in a conclusion of pant-shitting and jaw-dropping
insipidness, a room filled with the crystal skeletons of a dozen
aliens. Actually, they are called "inter-dimensional beings"
here, but that a character bothers to explain that is fucking
sad. Who cares?
I can almost
understand there being space creatures in the movie, since it
takes place in the fifties. That was the decade of drive-ins,
flying saucers and the Big Red Menace. The B-movie variety,
though, were almost always evil and out to take over the world.
Frequently, they were a metaphor for the commies. In Crystal
Skull, there are both Russians and outer-space shit, so
it'd be hard for one to be the stand in for the other. And mushy,
good-guy aliens bore the crap right out of my ass.
last forty-five minutes, I enjoyed Crystal Skull a lot.
There was an early brawl in an Area 51 warehouse that fun, light,
suspenseful, and with Ford fighting clear baddies. Once LaBeouf
joins the movie, it slows down. Still, when he and Ford rummage
around a derelict, spider-webbed and creepy Peruvian cemetery
with a big "No Graverobbers" sign, the movie feels great. Maybe
it felt a bit like a repeat of the earlier movies with hidden
treasure and ancient Rube Goldbergian traps, but I didn't mind
because that's the fun stuff.
finds out LaBeouf is actually his son, though, I felt about
as indifferent as I did when introduced to my real father, a
NAPA parts driver who smoked PCP through a modified throttle
rod. It's just sort of, eh, so what? I didn't care enough about
LaBeouf (or myself) to see why it made a difference. I mean,
a NAPA parts driver ain't gonna have a massive estate waiting
for me, and I don't want to know what sort of diseases I might
inherit. When Ford meets back up with his hard-drinking, hard-fighting
love from Lost Ark (Karen Allen), I got pissed. Great,
now we have to watch two old people get sassy and not
act their age. The movie finally went all the way off the
rails, though, when a crystal skull is used to read Ford's mind.
These space aliens had some magical abilities, thus explaining
Blanchett's interest. Their craniums can also scare off ants
and Mayan warriors, as needed, plus cure early-stage syphilis,
draw crowds in Sedona and cut apples into perfect quarters.
mystic shit is out of the bag, Director Spielberg lets it all
loose. The last third of the movie is handed over to fake looking
CGI, including a chase with one guy straddling two jeeps while
they race through the jungle, and LaBeouf instantly befriending
monkeys who teach him to swing. There is a lot more going on
but it all looks fake and feels even faker. It's as busy as
hell, sort of like when the Harelip is telling a lie, she swings
her arms wildly, thinking that if she accidentally knocks over
the pickle jar or the Beer Nuts stand that'll somehow distract
you from disbelieving the bullshit pouring out of her mouth.
Finally, we see the aliens, the final flush of the toilet. Or,
in this case, the turd that clogs the bowl, and then the shit
of confused. I don't know why I bought the supernatural religious
bullshit of the first and third Indiana Jones more than
the ETs here. I do, though. Maybe it's the absolute fear of
God instilled in me during my three months in Catholic school.
Maybe they tap more into the mainstream or are clearly less
serious than this aliens-came-to-help-us crap. Either way, they're
a damn poor way to shit on the god start of a movie. Three
Fingers for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal
to tell Filthy Something?