Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Lowered Expectations

As Rapier Whit struggles to find its voice in the post-Romney campaign world, I think it's important that we kick off the summer movie season with a little Indiana Jones preview.

Note the article in today's USA Today:

It begins:

"To hear him talk, you'd think George Lucas would have preferred to call his movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: Don't Get Your Hopes Up."

To which I respond "ROTF LOL LMAO WMP."

Creator of Indiana Jones, George Lucas is resurrecting the beloved 80s icon for a new generation. There is an obvious parallel to draw between a new Indy flick and the Star Wars episodes 1, 2, and 3. Indeed a decade has now passed since the hype for "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace," which was both arguably and sadly the best of the Star Wars prequel movies.

(Note: I will write my diatribe on Star Wars eventually, probably when "Clone Wars" comes out.)

I was never a huge Indiana Jones fan. Sure, they're great, but - frak - I couldn't even get a quote from "Temple of Doom" on Jay's, "movie trivia Friday" a couple weeks ago, even though I'd watched "Temple of Doom" just a few days prior! Yeargh.

Anyway. So Lucas is trying to build hype while managing expectation. Sounds rough. Seems like the better thing to do would have been, oh I don't know, make a really great movie.

However, unlike the Star Wars prequels, Indy 4 has the tremendous advantage of bringing back both its star actor, Harrison Ford, and its star director, Stephen Spielberg. (Imagine the Star Wars prequels if Lucas had been able to tap Alec Guinness and Irvin Kershner?)

Ultimately, I don't really care if Indy 4 is as good as any of the original three. That's not what this movie is about. This movie will be pure nostalgia, both for the golden years of the best action hero since James Bond, and for the simplicity of a villain like the Soviets in the painfully complicated post-9/11 world we now live in.

However, given that Indy 4 is a nostalgia piece, what fills me with a sackcloth-and-ashes remorse about the film is the original cast members that won't be coming back. Obviously, we'd all like to see Connery return as Henry Jones, Sr., but that was perhaps too much to hope for.

But Lucas could - and should - have made a phone call to John Rhys Davies to return as Sallah. Given his success as Gimli in in the Lord of the Rings movies, and the inevitability that he will return as Gloin for the upcoming Hobbit movies, Davies is a star in his own right. Davies would have put bums in seats.

Moreover, the one thing that any possible concept of an "Indy: the later years" film needs - nay, demands - is to cast Jet Li as a grown-up Short Round.

C'mon. The price of admission would be worth watching Jet Li throw down some hard-core kung fu before saying, "Like I always said, Indy, you listen to me, you live longer!"

Alas, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" will have none of those three actors. It will have Karen Allen returning as Marian from "Raiders," but Karen Allen was never anything more than a poor man's Margot Kidder. (Look: Allen doesn't even merit a hyperlink to her Wikipedia entry.)

Furthermore, it doesn't appear that "Crystal Skull" will have any religious overtones. At its heart, the Indiana Jones mythology is about a mercenary treasure hunter who becomes a believer in Hinduism (Temple of Doom), Judaism (Raiders), and Christianity (Last Crusade). It's the strong religious overtone that makes the Indiana Jones trilogy _films_ rather than just movies.

But what would the next religion be for Dr. Jones to save/be saved by?

In the post 9/11 world, and especially coming from Spielberg, there's no way on Earth it would have been Islam. Buddhism perhaps, but I don't really see the Buddha throwing punches and cracking whips, though in the context of Tibetan occupation, "Indiana Jones and a The Three Jewels" would make a pretty compelling story.

How about... "Indiana Jones and the Lost City of Zarahemla"?

They could get Mitt Romney to make a cameo.


Emily said...

Margot Kidder and Karen Allen DO seem oddly the same somehow. Looking forward to this movie and loved this blog entry.

Cameron said...

Yes! Jet Li as grown up short round would be stupendous!
I would also like to see the Nazi captain from the first one make an appearance again. He's been doing Kohler commercials lately and it's just sad. He probably needs the work.


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