Friday, May 23, 2008

The Hat Is Back

Just saw the new Indiana Jones flick with some friends tonight and I have to say that it was much better than I was expecting. For those who don't know, I'm a huge IJ fan; Raiders is my favorite movie of all time and I even own an official fedora, courtesy of my oldest sister after a visit to Universal Studios. So, I kind of consider myself a bit of an Indy expert and I have to say that this latest venture was definitely worth seeing.

Now before I effuse any more praise, I'll admit right up front that I was extremely wary going into this thing. As a virtual lifelong fan, I found myself actually starting to resent this new addition to the IJ trilogy. It was simply the corporatism; I should explain: I don't remember a time before I knew Raiders, Temple of Doom was the first movie I ever saw with a buddy without our moms driving us to the theatre and Last Crusade came out almost two decades ago. In short, I've grown up having watched these flicks without any hint of the marketing machine churning behind them; I was just too young to have noticed all of the product tie-ins and other callous corporate funding ventures.

Not so with this latest cinematic foray: it seems that I can't get away from Indy Whopper deals and Indy Lego sets no matter how hard I try to ignore the ensuing advertising blitz. I know, I know, the previous films were released under similar money-grubbing circumstances but I was never cognizant of it; I saw those films within an age-specific, advertising-proof bubble that has almost certainly mythologized them in my movie-going consciousness. Indiana Jones has always been cool to me without my having seen him on my large cup of Dr. Pepper.

That mythologizing aside, I definitely recommend this movie to anyone with a love of archaeology and fictional treasure hunting, a tangential sense of adventure and a healthy dose of cinematic suspension of disbelief. The disbelief is paramount during the 3-4 instances where Indy would have surely perished were he not wrapped firmly within a comfortable Spielberg/Lucas cocoon of inevitable survival. Aside from those few reality-based shortcomings, the schmaltzy ending and the overtly gross killer ant scene, make sure you check out the latest addition to my favorite trilogy ever; I guarantee you won't be disappointed.


Jeremy said...

I had the Temple of Doom lunch box, and believe me, I HAD to have it. That marketing worked then and I was completely ignorant to the fact at the elementary school level. Those manipulative bastards.

Anonymous said...

I had the metal Star Wars lunchbox and thermos, Jeremy.

JBW said...

Dude, are children just weak consumers or what?

Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that I did not even know the movie was coming out 'til last week. I was walking through down town Durango, Co and I saw it on the marquee. That being said, I thought the movie was a little trite. The dialog, the action scenes and the scenarios were borderline absurd. That worked in the original three, but I wanted a more serious, plot driven movie. As where James' expectations were low, I guess mine might have been a little high. I wanted the movie to more dramatic, less silly, and perhaps a little grittier. It was kind of a let down. I still say it is worth seeing, but don't get too excited.PK

Anonymous said...

You know, I read about 100 other reviews from regular people today. You are still the only person I've seen who actually recommends this movie, much less guarantees against disappointment.

I may be seeing this with your mom tonight. We'll report back if it happens.

Jeremy said...

I think James may not be the best one to ask advice about the actual quality of an Indy movie. He has loved them all, and the idea of them all, since he started growing hair in odd places as a youngster.

I bet, even if Hulk Hogan was in a love scene with Ellen Degenerous in the opening scene, James would proclaim the unbelievably passionate, yet, awkward chemistry between the two was handled with Oscar level performances.

My point is that James is a die-hard Indy fan who could never utter a negative word about the this epic saga. And that's why we love 'em

Even if the lead character is pushing 60 and showing signs of gout...

JBW said...

All right, all right, point taken: maybe I'm a bit biased here; I was just hugely relieved that it didn't suck donkey balls. If anyone needs me, I'll be wearing my Obama t-shirt and Indy fedora, sulking in the corner. Bitches.

Jeremy said...

Hey man, one of my favorite movies of all times is "the fast and the furious". We all have our guilty, secret pleasures that go against our own vocalized standads. The key word is "secret" here; not post a world wide blog why you believe "Strange Brew" should of won best picture in '83. (which coinscidently started my growing distain for the whole instatution called the Oscars) and proceed to be shocked at the response's you receive back.

Bottomline, we all know you'er totally gay for Han Solo James, and that's cool..... I guess..... but stick to your guns amigo. I just don't think that my school's captain of the debate team would let HIS swollan vagina get in the way of defending a ridulous argument to PK, of all people.

P.S. I am totally gay for Vin Diesel myself. especially that bar scene in Knockaround guys...... 200 fights before you earn the name of a tough guy.... shit, Sooo gay for him. But selfaware enough to know I shouldn't bring that up at cocktail parties

As far as Indy 4 goes my brother, I expect myself to be pleasantly impressed with all the eye candy, But PK..............seriously.......... If it's true what you post. "That worked in the original three, but I wanted a more serious, plot driven movie." plot driven???? serious????? It's fuckin' Indy, a no-think guy flick that covers all the basics; espionage, explosions and erections.

JBW said...

Hey, I'm not conceding my point that it's a good flick; my guns are sufficiently sticky (the "sulking in the corner" bit was written with tongue placed firmly in cheek. I never expected it to compete with the originals and I still don't think that it does; it's definitely my least favorite of them all.

That's because I don't compare it to them. This flick is so far removed in time, budget, writing, FX, etc. from those movies that you can't compare them; it's a different animal entirely. The only things they have in common are some of the same cast and characters and multiple little winks to the audience with arcane trilogy references for the die-hards like me.

Again, I was just happy that it didn't ruin the franchise just for the sake of making a buck. Jar Jar Binks makes entire scenes of what is a pretty good movie virtually unwatchable and the only reason he was added was to appeal to just one more demographic group. I'll still be able to watch the other Indy flicks and not feel like they've been tainted by this one; not so with Star Wars.

I guess what I'm saying is that this was a fun, well made movie that didn't try too hard or take itself too seriously, but I don't expect it to attain the status of the originals, and it shouldn't. Special effects can make a movie fun to watch but they can't make it a classic.

Anonymous said...

Dip Dong Jeremy. How did you possibly get an erection from that movie. You poor bastard. Have you even seen it? That would help. And you'd better believe that the next cocktail party that I am at, even the door man will know about you and Vin. I might even make up some shit. The kind of shit your fantasies are made of. And I am sure James aint(it's in the dictionary now) down for you throwing him under the gay fantasy bus just so you might appear normal to the rest of us.... THAT YOU ARE GAY FOR VIN!!!!WTF????!!!

I hope all this makes you laugh. 'Cause I am laughing.

Much love,

Anonymous said...

you boys and your silly hats and whips!!! J/k. Over all the movie wasn't really that bad. I will be a little weary of how the series goes on though. no more aliens!!!

Anonymous said...

Alright, went to the drive-in and saw Indy coupled with Iron Man last night. Wow. Talk about night and day. Of the 4 of us who made the trek, I was the only one who thought Indy was better than expected. I mean, I had basically thought this movie was the end of the world. It had SOME redeeming value. I cannot believe that of all the archaeological plots they could have developed, that we decided this was really the best direction for the series to go. The ending really threw me. So fantastical and bizarre! I also can't believe how bad some of the graphics were. One particular explosion during the jeep chase was the worst graphic I'd seen in years.

That said, juxtaposing this with Iron Man was unfair. I kept hearing how great this movie is. No matter how many superlatives I've heard, Iron Man surpassed them. It was one of the best movies I have seen in a LONG time. Maybe since Batman Begins. It's so great that I'm not even sure what else to say about it.

See it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and of all the Marvel Comics films, this might be the best. I've not seen them all, so I'm not the best judge, but Iron Man has got to be in the top 3. CERTAINLY 5.

JBW said...

Like I said, Indy was a good flick taken on it's merits, without all the hype surrounding it. As far as plots go though, I don't consider aliens to be any less fantastical or scientific than a box containing rules supposedly written by an invisible sky god that can level armies, magical rocks that ensure good crops and keep disease away while allowing people to live without their hearts or finding Jesus' sippy cup being guarded by someone who can't die but is suffering from 1000 years of arthritis.

Yeah, the aliens were kind of out there but how do you top those other things? All that's left is something just as equally trite, like discovering a society of Bigfeet or finding the lost city of Atlantis.

JBW said...

Oh, I totally forgot: dude, Iron Man kicked ass! I didn't post a review because I'd already put up two other posts about it but I'd definitely put it in my top five comic flicks (I don't say "Marvel" because DC has so few good flicks that I like to include Batman Begins in this comparison).

Jeremy said...

I can't wait to see Iron-man, even though Vin Diesel was passed up for the role of 'Jewish-thug #2'.Other than that bad news, I think I'm still listening to jbw and his thumbs-up review of Iron-man..... (and try and forget he is probably wearing that Indy fedora right now)

Anonymous said...

please note MASSIVE SPOILER ahead...

I don't care how fantastical you think God or the Indy-related bible stories are. Finding a couple, ancient stone tablets or Jesus's goblet seems WAY more realistic to me than watching the most stereotypical alien I've ever seen fly off in the Flight-of-the-Navigator mobile. I'd have been much more appeased if he'd taken on the mystery of Oak Island or something.


Jeremy said...

I assume that the past 3 movies were easier to swallow for us as Americans because of our strong Christian upbringing. From prayers in schools to swearing on the bible in our courts. Even though the concept of aliens fits right along with the Indiana Jones fantasy equation, it doesn't seem to flow as well. I feel because of the audiences own preconceived ideas of what is possible. I'm sure that every christian "believed" when Indy was searching for the holy grail, but thought this alien crap is just ludicrous.
...but how different are they?

Anonymous said...

Allow me to restate myself: stone tablets and goblets exist in this world. Could it be that these were fakes? Sure. But the fact is that they are items that have been around forever and we all accept as realistic items to be found in an archaeological dig.

Disclosure: sorry, I'm not sure I evre finished watching Temple of Doom - the bug-eating scene really grossed me out as a child - so I don't know about this rock thing. I presume that these were rocks that could very easily exist as well... whether magical or not.

So you ask how different these two ideas are? I say to you, TREMENDOUSLY! Whether or not you believe in the religion/superstition/etc does not change the fact that we went from "discovering" common, everyday items to finding a tribal council of crystalline, generic aliens, who when recomposed in full, were capable of becoming live (and one?) again and then flying off in a saucer.

In other movies/shows, I readily accept alien invasions and so forth. In Indiana Jones, however, I want Harrison digging up pharoahs or other old artifacts. Whether or not these artifacts are truly those of legend is immaterial.

Jeremy said...

I hear you Sterling. There is definitely a difference between finding priceless artifacts of history and finding Aladdin's Genie. What I think made the Indy trilogy work for me was how these 2 worlds, fantasy and reality, over lapped at times in a way that was almost believable.(except Temple which was a tale, so foreign to me that all time spent in India seemed like a dream) Maybe this new film flows better if you read Diane-tics by L.Ron Hubbard first. Then you would believe that alien life was here before us humans, as are the teachings of L.Ron. Then that the alien stuff Indiana found could be real. Just like the Holy Grail, Arc of the Covenant, and that Rock from Temple, Real items in history.

...but I'm not a scientologist so I agree with Sterling. I prefer Indiana looking for REAL treasures not Sci-fi booty.

JBW said...

Again, I don't think you can compare this one to the trilogy for the reasons I've stated above. I too however, like to see Indy digging more traditionally archaeological fair but despite my calls not to compare this one too closely to the trilogy, it is a sequel. And one of the cardinal rules of Hollywood over the last few decades has been that sequels must always be bigger and more exciting than their predecessors. And as I stated above, there wasn't much more they could do to get there; I'm not saying that aliens were the only way to do that but it had to be something just as fantastical.

And yes, I do consider the idea that he found the ark and the cup and the stones to be just as absurd as an alien craft. I know that stone tablets and cups actually exist in everyday life and that to find them at a dig is de rigeur. My point is that these particular objects and the incredible things we see them do on screen have just as much basis in fact as do aliens and their cheesy saucers: absolutely none.

So yes, we find cups in the ground. I even have cups in my kitchen. But Jesus' cup? And it has magic powers that only work in a room at the city of Petra? I see no TREMENDOUS difference between that scenario and crystalline aliens kickin it in a pyramid.

Now I'm the first person to say that I think that both scenarios are possible (saying otherwise would be foolish), but it's their level of probability that's important. And the probability for both is extraordinarily low since there is absolutely no proven, scientific evidence for either to base our judgements on.

I'm speaking based on the real, non-movie world in which we live. Now if your argument is that it is more realistic in the fictional, Indiana Jones world for him to find religious artifacts than aliens, I agree. In fact, in that world, the probability of him finding magical, Christian objects is quite high, as we've already seen him do it twice before; we have empirical evidence that this has happened when we watch the earlier flicks.

So if that's your beef, that he should be finding stuff more in line with the other movies, I agree and you can take it up with Steven and George. But I stand by my statement that aliens and magic rocks have equal amounts of validity in the real world: none.