No, it’s not gonna be easy, because with movies like these, people’s expectations are huge. And too often, impossible to meet.
You think of movies like Ghostbusters, Back to the Future or [insert favorite movie here] and say, “Man, wouldn’t it be awesome if they made another one of those?” We want more, even though we know that sequels operate alongside a sort of law of diminishing returns, where the new can never really live up to the old. Sadly, the same is true of the latest Indy flick. Although the movie has a lot going for it, you’re going to have to eat your fair share of cheese to get to it.
When you think about it, there’s really a lot of material out there for new Indiana Jones stories. There’s Atlantis, or Excalibur, or the Book of Secrets (screw you National Treasure!). So it was strange to see this movie lean so much on science fiction. It was an interesting idea, and kind of cool to learn that Indy played a part in the Roswell crash, but it didn’t seem very consistent with the tone set by the previous films. The half-naked natives and snakes we can handle. The alien from The Arrival shooting laser beams into Cate Blanchett’s skull maybe not so much.
One thing I definitely could have done without was the overabundance of cutesy humor. There are moments that are genuinely funny, but after we see Shia LaBeouf swashbuckling with Cate Banchett while balancing on two jeeps speeding through the jungle, only to get caught in a tree and start swinging from vines with a group of monkeys, I kind of broke into a cold sweat. There was a five year old kid a few rows ahead of us who got a big kick out of it though. Seriously, he wouldn’t shut up about it.
On the technical side of things, I wasn’t a huge fan of the way the movie was shot. I felt that stylistically, it was too big a departure from the other Indy films. Although it wasn’t a green screen gang bang like the Star Wars prequels, there were too many scenes that oozed Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. My wife said that in some places it looked like they were filming a stage production. Some of the sets and costumes seemed too new, too clean. Not worn and lived in and authentic like the previous films.
Like I said before, the movie does have a lot going for it. Obviously some big names. It’s clean, which is a quality lacking in so many films today. And it is a lot of fun just to see Indiana Jones back on the big screen. Harrison Ford scores some points in his portrayal of an aging Dr. Jones. That whole aspect was handled very well, I thought.
In the end, the latest Indy installment will make hundreds of millions of dollars, and we’ll soon be hearing news of another sequel. George Lucas has already dropped hints of future Indiana films being handed over to Shia LaBeouf. Although if they’re released under the title, “Mutt Williams and Blah of the Blah Blah Blah”, I’ll never set foot inside a theater to see them.
Screw it. Go check this one out in the theaters. It’s a nice, clean, summer movie that’ll make you nostalgic for days past. And this movie is still way better than National Treasure. Keep your expectations reasonable (yeah, I know) and you’ll have a real good time.
6.7 (I’m so torn!) out of 10 stars