Harry Knowles & INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL!!!
INDIANA JONES & THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL is our childhood dreams captured at 24 frames a second and projected for us to relive laughing, clapping, gasping and shouting enthusiastically for.
I don’t know how many of you that read this site are children of the 80s. I’m not talking young adults. I’m not talking babies of the eighties – I’m talking about… you saw RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK when you were in the midst of Elementary School. That you saw INDIANA JONES & THE TEMPLE OF DOOM when you were in High School. Then you saw INDIANA JONES & THE LAST CRUSADE as you went off to College. And now… You’re like me. You’ve found your profession, perhaps you found someone to share life with – your siblings have grown up – they have kids – maybe you do. And the 365 days of grinding out an existence, problems of the world, medical issues… your grandparents are beginning to die… perhaps your parents.
You still have a passion for life though. You love it. And as people started talking about a 4th INDIANA JONES – you might have shrugged… you might have gotten a tinge of excitement… but deep down, perhaps you thought they should leave well enough alone. Perhaps there wasn’t a reason to revisit those wondrous days of yesteryear – with an actor that, frankly, just hasn’t been himself in perhaps… almost 20 years. You saw the earring, a number of bad films… but deep in your heart – of living actors… he’s your favorite. He’s the guy that defines being a MAN – or what you look for in a Man. He’s Harrison Ford… Indiana Jones… and my god, I missed him.
It was a strange feeling sitting in the theater waiting to see this latest installment. Strange because I desperately wanted to “like” the film – and I seriously felt I had no hope to love it. Could Spielberg, Lucas, Ford and Williams truly pull it off? And exactly what was it that they were trying to pull off.
We’ve all heard that there’s apparently Psychic Commie Agents… Crystal Alien Skulls… And yet… How’s that any sillier than obsessive Nazi Occult collectors out to assemble the weapons of God, with which they would enslave the world? Strange thing is – the former Soviet Union did develop Psychic agents, perhaps with questionable results… and as for Crystal Alien Skulls – an astrophysicist friend was picking at that the other day wondering aloud that why in the universe would a body structure be built on its most fragile of substances. I won’t answer that specifically – but to say… perhaps… perhaps it’s not merely just alien. And perhaps you’re thinking to hard.
See – that’s a key element. Thinking. I won’t go to that old trite vain argument that this movie isn’t something to think about… quite the contrary – I think there’s quite a bit to think about, discuss and play with.
However, I feel the Indiana Jones movies are films – that as you watch… you’re supposed to FEEL the movie. It has a rocking heart beat powered by John Williams’ electrifying score and Michael Kahn’s superb editing. This film is a rocket sled, just like the one you see Indy ride. And yes, there is a slow part to the middle – but frankly – that’s for us to gather our bearings, catch up with the characters and to simply enjoy the fun of this all.
I also believe that each of the Indiana Jones films are about different things at their core. Raiders is about BELIEVING. Temple Of Doom is about TRUST. Last Crusade is about abandoning obsessions and choosing to live. And that leads us to The Crystal Skulls… What is it about? Well, that I’m literally just 40 minutes from having seen it at this point – I’m going to say I feel the film is about letting go of the past and choosing a happy future. It’s LIFE.
It’s also… like the Indy’s before it… A SHITLOAD OF FUCKING FUN! There’s silly shit here – but it’s FUN SHIT. But it’s loaded with classic bits.
The first comes early in the film as Indiana is at his desk and looks at a picture of his dad and of Brody. He’s had a bad day and he’s with an old friend and colleague at the University. He state’s that it has been a tough year. First Dad and then Brody. And then, I can’t recall if Indy says it or Broadbent, but he says, “You reach a point in your life where life stops giving you things and starts taking them away.” And that was the first moment of honest sincerity of the film.
Then there’s Indy’s reaction to seeing Marion for the first time. I couldn’t describe it to save my life. It’s about 40 different emotions all at once. And only Harrison Ford’s face could deliver that… effortlessly. And at the same time – there’s Marion’s reaction – and ya know… It’s a combination of relief & joy. When you’ve been captured by evil agents of the Soviet Empire and are threatened at Gunpoint… You want your life in the hands of someone that loves you like Indiana Jones.
Honestly at that moment – that second of connection between the two of them. I honestly haven’t had the emotional impact anything like it in years. That look shared between them… suddenly it wasn’t just the entirety of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK – but suddenly it was a flood of what probably happened between that film and LAST CRUSADE. And you could tell that they fought… my god, it’s Indy and Marion. It’d be a sad world in which they didn’t fight. They’re Lions in Human form – courageous, passionate and tough as hell.
I never got to see Bogart and Ingrid Bergman again, but god bless it… I hope that if I did – it would feel as note perfect as this.
There’s a classic Marion / Indy / Mutt bit of verbal quarrelling in the back of a Commie Truck… and when as a combined unit they escape that (not really a spoiler… it’s Indiana Jones – of course they escape) Marion says to Indy that she assumes he had plenty of ladies since they last met… and As INDY has cut a hole in the cloth of the truck – and sunlight blazes through it… he shoots her a look… that look… that goddamn INDIANA JONES look and he says in that voice… that world weary, seen everything, been everywhere INDIANA JONES voice and he says, “Yeah, but they all had the same problem.” She says, “Yeah, what’s that?” And on his way to do shit that only Indiana Jones could do – he says, “They weren’t you baby!” – and I started clapping and tears of fucking joy ran down my face.
Ain’t that the truth.
There’s a lot of magic in this film. A lot of it. I don’t think you have to be a chapter and verse fan of Indiana Jones to love it. Yes, LOVE IT. I think you just have to let go, believe and be willing to have another adventure with INDIANA JONES… because nobody, anywhere does it like Indy.
As for Harrison’s age. The punishment we see him survive. You know. If Indiana Jones was one of us. A pampered video game playing drone that’s idea of an adventure is driving a Mach 5 on a Wii – or a few hours of networked HALO play… you’re right. He couldn’t survive any of this shit.
But it’s Indiana Jones… A member of the “Greatest Generation” – He fought the Nazis and Evil Cults… and I’ll be goddamned if a bunch of fucking Commies can even dent his fender.
What about Mutt? Shia? He’s one likable son of a Marion Ravenwood. When Shia was first rumored to be a part of this film – he was here in Austin having the world premiere of DISTURBIA hosted by AICN and presented at SXSW – and after the film – a large after party had formed at the storied Driskill Hotel. And he and I were talking – and he asked what I thought of him playing Indy’s kid – and I said – absolutely truthfully. “If you were Willie Scott’s kid with Indy… God save your soul, but if George and Steven have you be the son of Marion and Indy… We’ll love you. Because the one thing all Indy fans believe is that Indy and Marion were simply meant to be. Nobody tries that hard to save someone that’s a fling. You ride subs, crawl under trucks and take on Nazi hordes – and you’re humble in the breath of God with the woman you love. And we love Marion.”
I didn’t have a clue how strong that connection would be. But after the film – while trying to explain to Yoko why I was absolutely shaking and trembling and crying with joy – I just couldn’t shake it. I wasn’t 36, 2 days from an operation that’ll be part of changing my life forever… I was 9 – I lived with Mom and Dad – Mom’s gone now – and we were in South America on Mayan temples talking about Aliens and the Maya – and God Bless Steven and George and Harrison and everyone that made this film. Because I don’t know what else but a great fun summer movie can restore that awesome sense of childhood… that breathless happy infinite feeling of summer fun – that I haven’t seen in a Summer… well since I was a kid.
And you may disagree – but that’s fine. Indiana Jones is about nostalgia, that’s what it was conceived from. It’s suppose to be the joy of all that stuff from George and Steven’s childhoods. Their heroes reborn in the most awesome hero of their age – given adventures that only the 21st Century’s whiz-banggery could produce.
This was an Indiana Jones movie. THANK GOD!