Pop Culture Diary: Indiana Jones 4

Required reading: Kris Tapley’s hateful review of IJ, Part IV. Pull quote: “Truly, there isn’t one thing I liked about “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” I could fill this space for days with items on the other side of that fence, however.”

Anticipation is a dangerous emotion when it comes to pop culture, I think, and it’s hard to imagine a film that has been longer anticipated than the fourth Indiana Jones. Perhaps it’s a challenge George Lucas enjoys, since the last comparable movie could be his fourth edition to the Star Wars series, the disastrous “Phantom Menace.” If it’s a challenge he’s enjoying, it’s also a challenge he should stop undertaking.

My review of the “Crystal Skull” can’t hardly be as negative as Tapley’s, but it should serve as far from a recommendation. This is a movie that, as much as it looks like Indiana Jones, as much as it sounds like Indiana Jones, it never truly feels like a film belonging of the name. This has never been a series, I don’t think, that took itself particularly seriously, but surely it should have paid a bit more attention to seriousness than … this.

In an attempt to make the fourth shine, Steven Spielberg added two pretty supporting characters to the film: Cate Blanchett cast as the enemy, as Stalin’s right-hand woman Irina Spalko and Shia LaBeouf as, well, a young sidekick for an aged Indy. Blanchett does a nice job, but it’s not exactly a well-developed or sensible character. LaBeouf isn’t very likable in a performance that needed to be very on the mark to work.

If those two are Spielberg’s addition to the film, the venture into science fiction is clearly George Lucas’. While surely the previous three films have contained elements of science fiction, Lucas introduces Roswell to us early in the film and does not let it go. His own fascination with the great unknown is thrust into this series, and for that, I’m sincerely sorry.

The good news is that it’s unquestionably funny in the most Indiana Jones ways. It’s unrealistic in the most brilliant, lovable way, with Indy dodging as many bullets as ever before. It has comic breaks when it needs to, and if nothing else, you can always laugh at the movie’s ridiculousness. Yesterday I talked about how “Lars and the Real Girl” was wrongly positioned as a comedy when it wasn’t; well today I’ll say “Indiana Jones” is a comedy that wants to be an action movie.

For many of us, Harrison Ford is Han Solo, for others he’s Indiana Jones. He’s Colonel Lucas, he’s Rick Deckard, he’s Dr. Richard Kimble, he’s Preisdent James Marshall. And, at 68, he’s all grown up, and that’s just about as hard to watch as seeing the Indiana Jones series reduced to … this.

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