A general rant about movies and "The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" in particular

I had an extended discussion with Comrade Z about movies we hate and how some of them (a LOT of them, as it turned out) are those rich in false tones.  Movies that manage to compel by the tool of the con.

A hundred million billion ka-jillion people can’t be wrong . . . and often get what they deserve, me thinks.  Movies are a fantastic tool of entertainment, learning, and soul-searching.  We learn more about wit and morality in the movies than a lifetime of learning from school, church and family lectures.  And when that bond of trust is betrayed with a piece of “art” with all the sincerity of doggy-doo, a special rage from the pits of hell rises up.  Hulk will smash!

What better way to relate simple truths about than through the cinema.  I was trying to think of a way to describe my negative reaction at my recent viewing of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and I find it really difficult without throwing up specific pieces of the horseshit that’s gurgling in my gut.  Specific scenes that did not titillate or inspire, causing instead a frown or my breathing pattern to skip a beat.

But that’s not being considerate of the next person who might want to experience the movie without a sliver of spoilage.  In this age of instant information, I find it necessary to give the next person in the line the opportunity to experience a movie fresh and devoid of spoilers.  Do onto others, and I sure hope that’s the key to the Kingdom cause you know the kind of people who will rattle off impulsively about the weekend at the movies, betraying so much.

So I remain generally silent, letting people make their own decisions.  “Trust the collective wisdom of The People,” said Phil Donohue, referring to the dumbing down of daytime TV talk.  I guess they did in his case.  People always don’t get what they want; they often get what they deserve.

I REALLY wanted to like “Crystal Skull” and feel kinda down about my negative vibes about the whole project.  I didn’t feel betrayed and didn’t feel full of hate leaving the theater.  I wasn’t conned into seeing the movie . . . or was I?  What does the “Indiana Jones” seal of trust guarantee the paying customer?

1. The “Raiders” march (god bless John Williams).
2. Extended chase scenes.
3. Plenty fighting with hyper-crunch sound FX when they land a solid blow.
4. BUGS!
5. The bad guys getting what they deserve, usually in a silly, gross-out fashion.

Yeah, yeah and so on.  I’d also add that there’s an internal logic (as in all fantasy) to the Indy universe that teeters between magic and dunderheadness.  A small slip up that rings false and the entire house of cards falls onto itself.  The flow of the movie experience goes thud and I am transported back to a multiplex that is desperate to sell me $7 bags of popcorn.

“Crystal Skull” had the action but it looked/felt different to me.  There were chase scenes all over lot but I was waiting for them to finish so I could turn the page to the next chapter.  There were extended history lectures about crazy grave robbers in South America and a lot of pictographs that left me blank with disinterest.  

Worst of all was the digital effects that DOMINATED the movie like the bugs in the Well of the Souls.  What I find distinctive between older and newer screenplays is that the foundation is based in technology.  Unfortunately the trap of SFX is to lean heavily on the visual illusion too damn much and neglecting other stuff like character and plot flow and dialogue.  The Indy trilogy was made at the doorstep of modern digital technology and I guess Lucasfilm made up for lost time.

I’m not against 20-year reunions and reliving the glory days.  But if you add in too much unnecessary crap then I’ll say you failed to deliver and move on.  I’ve yet to read a review online written by a mainstream media critic that wasn’t mostly negative.  Everybody LIKES this movie overall.  Did we see the same movie?  Several scenes were genuine clunkers.  Lines of dialogue meant to be witty and ironic were delivered in a forced manner.  I wasn’t even convinced they did location shooting in Hawaii because all I saw was another digital representation of reality brought to you by ILM.

In the words of Pat DiNizio, I’ve got to find a way to let you know I’m not like them.

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