February 14, 2008


What we have here, kids, is the new teaser trailer for the latest chapter in the Indiana Jones saga. Take a peek.

Man, I don't know whether to be excited or just scared as hell that Lucas is going to fuck it up.

I adore Indy. I really do. Raiders is one of my favorite movies. Is it the equivalent of high literature filmmaking? No. It's definitely not Wings of the Dove material, but the glorious part is that it doesn't have to be. It's a story worth telling, and they told it well. The simple fact that they told it well, in my humble opinion, puts it right up there with any number of Best Picture Oscar winners. Besides, it's got nasty Nazis, long lost hidden treasure, Denholm Elliot, John Rhys-Davies, and snakes, which are a trial to our mercenary treasure hunter, conflicted hero, Indiana Jones, whose weapon of choice is a bull whip. What more could you ask for? But most important, it's got Marion Ravenwood, Indy's spunky lost love. Karen Allen doesn't get a lot of credit for making that movie work, but it's been obvious in the two sequels, simply by her absence, how much her presence in Raiders was integral to making the legend of Indy come alive. She gave Indy a past---and a caddish one at that. But she also established that he had his redeeming points, particularly when he mourned her in the bar in Cairo. He could have been a blank slate, but he came with baggage, and that made him all the more compelling a character. That's why I'm SO stoked to see that they brought Marion back for this new one. I have missed her terribly. (According to IMDB, we will also see Abner, Marion's father, for the first time, and he's being played by the always excellent John Hurt. I'm assuming this will be in flashback format, since it was established in Raiders that Abner was dead.)

But there are several things about this trailer that are very disturbing. Very, very disturbing. First off, what's with the lead-in that paints Indy as the next messiah? "He protected the power of the divine?" Hardly. If you'll remember he wanted the Ark to be opened up repeatedly and studied, but the government disagreed with him. "He saved the cradle of civilization?" I don't really remember Temple of Doom all that well---I refuse to watch it again because it was so horrible---but I think that might be a bit of a stretch. "He triumphed over the armies of evil?" What? He defeated Hitler singlehandedly? While Indy's a fairly resourceful dude, I doubt even he could have managed that. He looked like he was about to shit his pants when Hitler autographed the Grail Diary.

This introduction just makes me wary. Georgie Porgie Puddin' and Pie Lucas seemingly is unable to work with shades of gray---his characters of late are either all good, or all bad. For example, he reworked the cantina scene in Star Wars to have Greedo shoot first, instead of Han, who was the culprit in the original edition. Everything white must be good. Everything in black must be bad. There's no in-between. No nuance. I know he'd probably argue otherwise, but this is my impression. Lawrence Kasdan---the original screenwriter who gave Indy breath, bones, flesh, and flaws---where are you when we need you? Indy is not the messiah. He's not even all that good, in the scheme of things. Now, I will grant you that, with Last Crusade, the kiddification of Indiana Jones had already started, but they have the opportunity to turn it around with this film, and I sincerely hope they do. But with Lucas holding the purse strings, well, you have to wonder if it will actually happen.

The next problem I have with this is that, apparently, Indy's got a sidekick---again---in Ray Winstone. While I like Winstone just fine, the last time Indy had a sidekick, well, it was Short Round in Temple of Doom and we all know how well that worked out. (I don't count Indy's Dad as a sidekick. He was on the same level as Indy, not beneath him, which is where a sidekick generally resides. Sallah doesn't really count either, because there was a certain quality about him that just doesn't qualify him for sidekick mode. He could arrange any number of things for Indy---sidekicks are just along for the ride, and to throw Indy his whip when it's out of his reach.) Indy, for all intents and purposes, is a loner. His work is at its best when he works by himself. A sidekick will simply slow things down, and create too much bleedin' exposition. I hope they treat Ray well. I really do, but, gracious, it certainly doesn' t bode well.

I don't know how excited I am to see that there's the possibility of a "New Indy" being introduced, either. Yes, you need someone to bring in the younger viewers, especially since it's been nineteen years since Last Crusade was released, but Shia LeBeouf? You couldn't come up with anyone else? Eh. I don't know. I think this casting move also harks back to the Lucas kiddification. Gotta have someone the kids can relate to. Bleh.

But there are also good points to this trailer. Cate Blanchett apparently is the villainess (replete with jet black hair!), and she rarely, if ever, sucks, so it's got that going for it. And, of course, Marion makes her return, so there's that, too. It's also got a warehouse full of wooden boxes, and US Army cars and trucks. Hmmm. Where have we seen that before? Could it be that Indy, and his trusty sidekick (sigh!) are going in to try and retrieve the Ark? Hmmm? Trying to tie up some loose strings? I don't know. It's also, apparently, got ancient temples replete with booby traps, and that collapse at the drop of a fedora.



I'll be there, first in line, when it's released, but, really and truly, THIS HAD BETTER NOT SUCK! They ended it on a good note with Last Crusade. I can only hope that they don't regret making another sequel, and that I don't regret handing over $8.50 to see it.

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