If you haven’t actually seen the fourth adventure, I can’t guarantee I won’t spoil anything for you here. I’m so surprised the number of people I’ve met who haven’t seen this. Indiana Jones
, to me, was bigger than Star Wars
. Pretty much everyone who grew up watching Episodes IV, V, and VI went and saw the prequels in the theater even knowing before hand
that they were in for an experience not unlike getting a paper cut between your fingers. I’ll hand Lucas
that: there was no way he was going to lose money no matter what steaming load he put out. So why didn’t as many people take the same plunge for Jones
? At least as many as I knew. Was it that they had already been burned by nostalgia capitalism too many times before? Was Transformers
the last unholy aborted geek fetus that they could bring out to the hazardous waste dumpster of their consciousness before they went into total shut down?
I’m going to say it: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
is good. Sure, I had problems with the CG monkeys and “nuking the fridge”
has become the new terminology replacing “jumping the shark”
in my LEOG
-influenced lexicon. Did I have bigger problems with anything in Skull
than I did in The Last Crusade
or Temple of Doom
? No. No, no, no, no, no. Anyone remember the stupid ‘invisible bridge’
of Last Crusade
? Did you block that one out? Maybe the airplane drop of the inflatable raft? Or hell, just any scene with the endlessly shrieking banshee Kate Capshaw
? Casting a kid as a sidekick? Every single Jones
affectation being adopted from one single experience? Come on. This stuff was dumb, but not in the adventure serials based universe in which they take place. Neither is the stuff in Skull
. I can only think that the excitement had heated to such a fever pitch that there was no way some people were going to be anything but disappointed. It’s not as good as Raiders
. Duh. None of them even hold a candle to Raiders
. That being said, they’re not bad either and certainly are ten times
the film that lame imitations like the National Treasure
series tries to be.
So you already know from my intro here and from our original review of the film that I really liked it a lot. If I had a complaint about the series in general, is the question why anyone keeps paying for Jones
to go out on these adventures when he never seems to come home with anything. But I can let that go. My advice is to take a deep breath, relax, realize what you’re watching, and rent (or buy) this two-disc set and take another look. Meanwhile, I’ll fill you in on some of the extras you get on the disks:
The Behind-the-scenes documentary, as it were, is split up into many different sections and we’ll take them one by one…
“The Return of a Legend”
How it all got going again. Apparently, to my surprise, it was Harrison Ford
who first started beating on Lucas
’s doors about doing another one. They first starting shooting around ideas before Independence Day
came out, then focusing on a 50’s b-movie style alien invasion but the Emmerich
film brought all that to a halt. The original title was “Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men”
. And you thought “Crystal Skull”
was corny. Still stuck on the idea of moving it forward the appropriate amount of time, it was decided to wait and develop it further, eventually with Lucas
coming up with the idea of taking some of the tropes of the 50’s style little green dudes and mixing in newer sci-fi ideas.
Also discussed is that interestingly, Indy
was originally going to have a daughter rather than a son but Spielberg
demurred. Shame too. We could have had Scarlett Johansson
as Indy Jr
in “Indiana Jones and the Shadowy Valley Between the God Mountains of Pure Joy Where Cyrus Really Wants to Make Motorboat Sounds.”
REALLY was excited about playing the role again. Indiana Jones
has become the red sports car of his late mid-life crisis. He’s usually so reserved, almost placid. Seeing him this worked up actually makes me like the film even more.
Interesting that Spielberg
decided way back after Shia LaBeouf
was in “Holes”
that he wanted him for Mutt
. He sent him copies of films like “The Wild One”
and “Blackboard Jungle”
to prepare for the pound or so of hair gel that would be required.
“Production Diary: Making Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”
Not a lot of surprises here but it is a slick and professionally produced ‘how they did it’
doc. Not sure anyone needed to hear from the costume designer about the fabrics he picked out for the wedding scene, but maybe there’s a big fan base here I’m unaware of.
Everyone so continually gushes about how great it is to get the old gang back together, OMG
, I can’t believe we’re doing it again, etc, etc. Except for the WRITERS of course, but like most directors, they assign almost zero credit to them. There’s lots of self praise and lots of answers to HOW they did things but not enough to WHY.
Remember when Indy
rode the motorcycle through the library at the college and they stopped in front of a student who asked Indy
a question? That’s Tom Hanks
OTHER son. Just a thing. Didn't even know he had any other kids. Surprised they didn't try to make Colin Indy Jr
for that matter or make Indy
have two kids, one more studious and nerdy...
Really? A whole section on how they put fake mud and scarification on the tribal dudes? They coulda just gotten the average crowd at an Austin punk club
and saved themselves a fortune on latex.
“The Crystal Skulls”
While I think it was a good idea to take a mysterious item from the real world and use it as the starting point for the film, the actual crystal skulls
aren’t so alien-ish and the claim they make here that the ‘unsolvable mystery’ makes the film more plausible...well, I laughed. Current examinations by the Smithsonian Institute
conclude that they were made in the 1950s or later. Cyrus
providing needles for your balloons. I'm proud of my job.
You’d think this would focus on the whip, the hat, the man purse Indy
carries around...but instead we get a better look at how George Lucas
in the proper use of a comb. Oooooooookaaaaaay. The prop master discusses how they made lots of props that are based on famous mystical or mysterious objects to have lying around from the smashed crates in Area 51
but the only one they talk about specifically is Moses’
staff. Guess it wouldn’t be an Indy
movie without some
suggestion that the Old Testament actually happened. Like I said, no one expects these to actually be realistic.
“The Effects of Indy”
The CG, the miniatures, the damn nuke fridge. I swear that stupid fridge is going to haunt me. I mean, even if he somehow survived the initial blast from the lead lining and being thrown far away by the force, he would have started coughing up his liquefied internal organs from the radiation before you can say “Giant CG ants.”
Or become the Hulk
“Adventures in Post Production”
The guys who have to add in all the sound effects and digital crop up here. They actually dug up the original sound files from the first films and digitized them all to re-use the exact same sound effects here for stuff like the crack of Indy’s whip. I also found it interesting to hear about how they used real world sampling to make some of the alien sounds, but I’m afraid editing all these LEOG
s is turning me into an audio geek. Even if I still suck at it. They also talk with John Williams
who for all his hard score work gets awarded his own Indy
hat before they put him back in Lucas
’s cellar cage.
“Closing Team Indy”
A pointless to watch unless you were actually there montage of all the rest of the staff.
Big money brought to the table means even the STORYBOARDS are in frelling CG. Here’s three of the sequences, “The Area 51 Escape”
, “Jungle Chase”
and “Ants Attack.”
Galleries? On my DVD? It’s more likely than you think. What a surprise. There are a LOT of pictures here but I’m not sure why anyone ever cares. If I could save them to my desktop maybe but otherwise, why bother?
Yes, trailers. The part you’ve all been waiting for. Two fun-filled trailers of the film and one trying to get you to buy their new Indy
Box Set. Why does this even count as an extra anymore? Yay, I’m being marketed to!
And that’s the whole kit and kaboodle. Is it worth it for the two disk? I suppose if you’re a completist but I can’t imagine ever going back and watching these extras again. There’s not much funny, entertaining or unexpected there despite the quantity and the professionalism of the production. However, I am the kind of geek that would feel like a lesser person only having the paltry single-disc edition even if it never actually does anything but collect dust. I’m sick like that. Please, help me. Someone for FSM
’s sake send me a picture of your breasts before I go buy all the different versions from Target
, Best Buy
...Hmmm, boobs or Crystal Skull edition?
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