Saturday, February 23, 2008

If adventure has a name....

It's amazing how time slips away from you, isn't it? I file things away in the back of my mind to blog about one of these days, and then I realize it's been a couple of weeks. But hey, it's also nice how since it's my blog I can blather about what I want, when I want!

So, with all that said, it's time for me to geek out a bit about the trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

First of all, I know that they've apparently decided that every one of these tales needs to be titled along the lines of Indiana Jones and the [insert hazy reference to the story's Maguffin here], but really, that's an unwieldy title. Just as the very first ever Indiana Jones story for me will forever be Raiders of the Lost Ark, so too should this one simply be either Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull or Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

(Of course, this is all pretty much a useless point anyway; stand to one side of the theater box office when this opens, and what you'll hear is "Two for Indiana Jones" all night. In fact, have you ever heard anyone approach the box office and refer to a movie with a long title by the entire title? Wouldn't it sound weird to hear some one actually say "Can we get three tickets to the 9:15 showing of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King? We use shorthand when referring to movies with long titles anyway.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, the Crystal Skull trailer. It's a good trailer. Of course, most trailers are, but this one really seems to be an "Old School" trailer in that it just has little hints of what's in the movie, as opposed to most trailers these days, where the approach seems to be "Tell the entire movie in two minutes and make sure to give away all the best stuff". (The worst example of this I've ever seen is the trailer to The Perfect Storm. They just had to put the movie's money shot, the Andrea Gail trying to surmount the unsurmountable wave, into the trailer. Oy.)

So what does the trailer say about the movie itself? Luckily, not much. It doesn't have much dialogue at all, except for a couple of lines in the typical "Indy's amazed at what he just did" vein, and the nice exchange where the kid (who may or may not be Indy's son, according to fan speculation) says "You're a teacher?" and Indy replies, "Part time". (There's a beat in the kid's line, which makes me think the actual line in the movie is a bit longer and may contain an expletive.) And there are no references to the Crystal Skull at all! The trailer's constructed of pure visuals. That being the case, what can we tell about the story?

The big revelations seem to be a quick appearance of the word "Roswell" (possibly referring to the Roswell Incident), and some derring-do that appears to take place in a Mayan pyramid. So maybe the movie's archaeological Maguffin is the long-mysterious fall of the Mayan empire in Central America, and maybe the movie's explanation involves aliens of some sort. I know that the previous Indiana Jones adventures have all dealt with mystical and religious themes, so a possible aliens-from-Space angle of the Erich van Daaniken variety may seem at first out of place. I'm willing to withhold judgment on this point; as Roger Ebert has said many times, "It's not what a movie is about, but how it is about it". There's no reason why an aliens-and-UFOs story can't involve religious mysticism; in fact, if you delve into UFO subcultures, you can't really avoid religious mysticism. Indy has dealt with Old Testament relics, New Testament relics (well, kinda-sorta), and Hindu relics, each of which has very real powers. So maybe the mystical element will be present here.

Anyhow, I'm looking forward to this movie eagerly, and I actually think it's got lots of potential to be good. What I'm really hoping for is a good adventure without too much of the "Indy's getting old" subtext. Indiana Jones isn't about depth; he's about adventure and excitement. We're supposed to trust him, even as we know that he's making it up as he goes. My other big hope is that this film doesn't reduce its recurring character from Raiders, Marion Ravenwood, to comic relief as Last Crusade did with Sallah and Marcus Brody. In fact, the treatment of those two characters in that movie is a big reason why it's my least favorite Indy flick to date.

So bring on Dr. Jones!


Becky said...

There are few new film releases that get my blood pumping these days...Harry Potter is one. But THIS movie! I can hardly contain myself!

teflonjedi said...

Looking forward to this myself...the wife got to see Raiders for the first time last month, and she really enjoyed it too. I wonder if the snakes will be back?