Alright folks, let’s get this show on the road. I want to make it to Country Buffet by four.
June 18, 2008 9:04 PM   Subscribe

On a related note: Indiana Jones denied tenure. (previously deleted, but well worth re-posting as a comment)
posted by Dasein at 9:12 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

For a start, the title could have been abridged: Indiana Jones and the... Skull.
posted by crossoverman at 9:15 PM on June 18, 2008

This is the best bit:

Alright, the walkthrough for the movie says that our next clue is in a spooky graveyard. We should probably save our game here.

Pick up MAP. Use MAP on HARRISON FORD. Walk To TOMB.
posted by jozzas at 9:25 PM on June 18, 2008 [3 favorites]

All I can say is, if it takes less than two hours to complete, it's an improvement.

Nuked the fridge.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:35 PM on June 18, 2008

It's sad that Fate of Atlantis was a better movie than this.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:38 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I kinda enjoyed this movie.. I think I had extremely low expectations and a mental agreement with myself that I would suspend my disbelief for up to 5 different plot points.

Really though, I don't know why the alien things bugs everyone so much. Previously, on Indy, he discovered the real Holy Grail, which is actually less plausible than crystal skulls.
posted by bluejayk at 9:43 PM on June 18, 2008

I don't know why people hate this movie so much.

I never saw the original Indiana Jones films when I was a kid. I only saw them a few years ago, and, man, they involved ridiculous physics, horribly annoying sideplots, terrible one-liners, and unbelievable adventures. ....And that's exactly what The Crystal Skull keeps getting criticized for. It's led me to the conclusion that anyone who thinks this movie is a disgrace to the original Indiana Jones movies just hasn't seen them since they were kids.

(That said, I love the abridged scripts! I stopped checking his page ages ago, though, because I thought he'd stopped updating. Thanks!)
posted by Ms. Saint at 9:55 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

also good:

HARRISON uses a CHEAT CODE to spawn a ROCKET LAUNCHER, then uses it to blow up the tree-cutting machine.
posted by Arturus at 9:58 PM on June 18, 2008

It's sad that not seeing the movie is better than seeing it.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:59 PM on June 18, 2008

Yep, that's about it.

I was watching Holy Grail the other day, and while the ending of Grail was pretty fucking stupid, the rest of the movie pretty much puts this one to shame. And of course the first one is still full of awesome.
posted by empath at 10:20 PM on June 18, 2008

I still think Crystal Skulls was better than Temple of Doom.
posted by Caduceus at 10:24 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was never able to get into the Indiana Jones films. Just didn't like `em, even though I tried very, very hard to like them. I figured as a card carrying geek who loved franchises such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who and so on, Indiana Jones was something I should like. But try as I might, I just simply couldn't get into them. This led to many arguments with my best friend, a fellow geek who loved the first three films, who couldn't fathom how I didn't like them.

My fiancée loves those films though, and as such it was my duty as her partner to go see this film with her (even though I tried to get out of it but couldn't, given she had reluctantly accompanied me to Iron Man a few weeks earlier). I will say this. I enjoyed it. Ironically, my Indiana Jones loving-friend did not like the film. My fiancée said it was "OK."

Afterwards we went back and watched the first three films on DVD. I appreciated them more after watching Skull, but still wasn't able to really get into them. But what struck me was how Skull was a lot like the first three films except for an old Indiana and more modern film making techniques.

My verdict? Clearly 19 odd years between films with no prospect of a fourth film led fans of the first three films to invest so much in the first three that the announcement, finally, of a fourth film was like the Second Coming. Along with the hype machine and the usual inclination of my fellow geeks to get super-excited about The Latest Film In Your Whatever Your Favourite Franchise Happens To Be, there was no way Skull could live up to it.

People who say that Skull had unbelievable moments in it, like Harrison surviving an atom bomb test, or that there are aliens in it, forget that that first three films featured a) The Arc of the Covenant (with no doubt that God actually exists in this universe), b) Voodoo Priests That could reach into your chest with no blood or invasive surgery and c) Jesus' beer mug that would let-you-live-like-for-fucking-ever if you drank from it.

People who say aliens are out of place in an Indiana Jones film forget that the central theme for the first three films is "historical myth turns out to be true." There are people who say that aliens had a part in our development (the Pyramids, Stonehenge etc). Those people are nut-jobs, no doubt about it, but there are people who think that a mythical sky wizard named God had a huge influence on our society, and their crazy historical myths were somehow accepted in the first three films with little to no criticism.

That said, I will also say this. I enjoyed this abridged script thingie. Yep, I found it funny.

That is all.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:25 PM on June 18, 2008 [6 favorites]

The thing is, the first three films were good. This one was retarded. Shia La Beouf as Tarzania Jones? I like the guy and he was good in 'Disturbia' and everything Yes the first three films were unbelievable but they were well-paced, tightly plotted, had genuinely interesting characters, great dialogue, great set pieces, and were full of fun and, dare I say it, adventure. 'Crystal Skull' is shittily-paced, poorly plotted, the characters were obnoxiously boring parodies, the dialogue was cringeworthy (KNOWLEDGE WAS THE TREASURE. THE TREASURE...WAS KNOWLEDGE. wtf?), the set pieces "meh" to the point of obscenity, and it was completely bereft of fun and adventure. So, that's the difference between the original trilogy and this godawful abortion.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:34 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I only saw them a few years ago, and, man, they involved ridiculous physics, horribly annoying sideplots, terrible one-liners, and unbelievable adventures. ....And that's exactly what The Crystal Skull keeps getting criticized for.

To me, that's not the problem at all. The problem is that Crystal Skull just doesn't do it right. It's as if someone took the elements of the Indy formula, fed them into a computer, and had it spit out the most generic, soulless script ever. And then the actors saw it and put in a bland, half-hearted performance. It feels like something written, directed, and acted by committee, the cinematic equivalent of the ROKR phone.

The cartoonish Russians can't hold a candle to the Nazis as far as decent villains go, the climax doesn't make you feel like there's anything really at stake here ("So, like, are the Russians going to chase everyone down and give them Skull Dementia, or what?"), the script is horribly repetitive ("And now as Indy finds another clue, the bad guys capture him... FOR THE TENTH FUCKING TIME!"), and there are several abortive scenes that come out of nowhere and don't lead anywhere.

But most importantly, where are the genuine Indy moments that make the first three films? The sword vs. gun fight, the scene in the map room, the tank fight? Oh sure, there are a few weak starts in that direction, but then Harrison Ford gets a senile "I really feel like there's something the audience wants me to do here, but gosh darn it I just can't remember what" look on his face, and by the time they bring in Shia LaWhine to ruin the scene completely, the magic is already gone.

*shakes cane angrily at the screen*
posted by Krrrlson at 10:41 PM on June 18, 2008

I kinda enjoyed this movie.. I think I had extremely low expectations and a mental agreement with myself that I would suspend my disbelief for up to 5 different plot points.

This movie didn't require suspension of disbelief so much as its telekinetic levitation. By aliens.
posted by Slothrup at 10:41 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Why wasn't Shirley McLaine in this? She's all about crystals. I prefer Egg MacGuffins anyway.
posted by Cranberry at 10:43 PM on June 18, 2008

Actually if there is one thing I didn't like about Skull, it's Shia La Beouf. I can't stand him and find him insufferable in everything that he does. Mind you, I may just be biased since he was in the abomination that raped my childhood memories, Transformers.

Which kind of goes to prove my earlier point that when you hold something on a pedestal for years and then something new for it comes out, it won't live up to those lofty heights you have for it.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:44 PM on June 18, 2008

To illustrate this, SHIA LEBEOUF flies up into the FUCKING JUNGLE and swings like FUCKING TARZAN along the FUCKING VINES with a FUCKING ARMY of CGI FUCKING MONKEYS. That actually FUCKING HAPPENS.
posted by jeffmik at 10:47 PM on June 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

What ruined Crystal Skull for me, more than anything else, was the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad script. Yes, The Ark of the Covenant is just as zany as Magic Alien Skulls, but MacGuffins are MacGuffins are MacGuffins. In the first three films, the MacGuffins operate with some semblance of logic and consistency, and things generally make sense. (Even the seemingly out-of-nowhere realization that Indy shouldn't look at the Ark was established in a scene which ended up on the cutting room floor.)
The fact that the first part of Crystal Skull (the Russians getting an alien corpse) had nothing to do with the second part (returning another skull to Peru), the fact that things are set up and never mentioned again (Cate Blanchett is psychic for all of ten seconds, and the FBI's "interest" in Indy was apparently cleared up by a phone call), and the fact that the ending was an incoherent mishmash of surly aliens, whizzbang special effects and Ray Winstone's mysterious lower-body paralysis---that bugged me.

Man, I've been holding that in for a few weeks.
posted by Bromius at 10:51 PM on June 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

How does it miss any mention of the wedding at the end?
posted by jeffmik at 10:52 PM on June 18, 2008

The film gets a really bad rap - could go on for ages here but will just say it contains what may be the most astonishing visual Spielberg has ever done: Jones standing up watching a billowing mushroom cloud. Amazing.
posted by jettloe at 11:18 PM on June 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

I think I know why films two and four didn't deliver but films one and three, for the vast majority of fans of all the films, did.

Lucas and Spielberg both believe deep down in their hearts in the Judeo-Christian mythology. I'm not saying they both are diehard Christians. In fact if memory serves Spielberg is jewish and Lucas is agnostic (please feel free to find sources proving otherwise - doesn't matter). They both believe in the myth as a positive and respectable representation of humanity, and therefore on perhaps an unconscious level if not conscious, they make choices that show things like the ark and the grail in a different light.

It's not necessarily something one can point at and go "there in frame two thousand forty-six do you see that? THAT's what I'm talking about." It's something that kinda permeates the two films that deal with the Christian mythos. The stories in question just seem to adhere to the Judeo-Christian mythology in a way that the audience can kinda accept as a given.

Whereas in the second movie, I never accept for a minute that the writer and director bought into this Kali Shiva crap. It's simply dissed on a very base level of production. Whether you know anything about this culture or not, you're looking at it and you're going, "oh this isn't real. This isn't how these people really were." I mean maybe it WAS how they really behaved, but the audience just can't buy into it. Feels like stereotypes. Rings false.

Number four is the same way. Why are these aliens just skeletons sitting in this Peruvian ruin waiting for Indy to show up? If they're psychic and shit, why are they behaving the way they are? it doesn't make sense, and I don't believe for a nanosecond that Spielberg or Lucas actually believe archaeology and aliens are meant to go together. Maybe they consciously believe that, but deep down they don't buy it, and so the myth doesn't get the proper respect or appreciation, so if the director and producer can't suspend disbelief while they're making the film, how can we possibly do it while we watch it?

All four of these films are glorified matinee serials from over a century ago. That's the source material, that Lucas and Spielberg are trying to honor in tribute. The ones that deal with Judeo-Christian motifs are given extra special preferential treatment on a level that I doubt Spielberg or Lucas consciously even realize. It's simple cultural gravity.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:18 PM on June 18, 2008 [7 favorites]

Raiders of the Lost Ark is a damn solid piece of filmmaking, but Spielberg wanted to make Temple of Doom more kid-friendly (and therefore more profitable), so the tone of the sequel is markedly different. Short Round, Kate Capshaw's whining, impossible-physics action scenes (like the inflatable raft out the airplane landing softly on the mountaintop), all of this was quite different from the more serious tone of the first film. That said, I saw Temple of Doom when I was about 12 and it blew my mind, so even though it's not a great movie, it's one of many milestone movies for me in the 80s. What I don't get is the love for the Last Crusade, which I thought was pretty lame at the time, and after watching it fairly recently, think it's not even as good as Temple of Doom. Its action scenes, dialogue, etc. are just as bad. Or let's call them even, then call it a day, and never talk about them ever again.

I haven't seen this latest version and have no plans to do so, because I have zero faith in Spielberg's ability to entertain these days. He's the walking definition of "jump the shark". He hit his apogee with Schinder's List, and it's been downhill since then. Maybe I'll get the DVD later on this year.
posted by zardoz at 11:54 PM on June 18, 2008

My daughter didn't even REALLY like it. I could have saved the £20.
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:11 AM on June 19, 2008

I may just be biased since he was in the abomination that raped my childhood memories, Transformers.

Dude. Seriously. It wasn't Transformers that raped your memories (itself a turgid turn of phrase for denied sense of self-entitlement). It was getting older and developing a faculty of critical appraisal. Happens to us all. A few more years and you'll realise it wasn't that good to start with.

As a wonderful person once said to me, "Dry your eyes, Princess, and have a can of harden up."
posted by Sparx at 2:52 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

The movies jumped the shark for me when they had the 12th Century Knight speaking modern English. That was one step beyond too far for me. I can suspend all other disbelief, even entertain the existence of an anthropomorphic jewish goblin in a box, but not that.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 3:19 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'll step up and defend Last Crusade. In Raiders we're introduced to Indiana Jones the Cartoon Superhero; Last Crusade takes that superhero and somehow brings him down to earth, making him temporal and pretty deeply flawed and giving him a father to whom his achievements have never been enough. The human story in Last Crusade works, and it works to such an extent that it even makes Raiders a better movie in retrospect.

Ignoring Temple of Doom, which oddly takes place before Raiders anyway, the narrative arc of Raiders to Last Crusade is a pretty compelling one, essentially the humanizing of a superhero and the resolution of Indy's Formative Childhood Trauma. In this sense Crystal Skull is actually worse than superfluous—the need to return to Indy, 20 years on, undercuts and arguably destroys entirely the narrative arc that somehow took the cartoon hero of Raiders and turned him into a human being. Last Crusade didn't need a sequel; the trilogy was already a complete story, not Episodes 44-46 in the 108 Adventures of Indiana Jones.
posted by gerryblog at 3:42 AM on June 19, 2008

"Shia LaBeouf" is an excellent name, isn't it? In the sense that even if you know nothing else about him, you only have to read it to somehow know exactly what kind of tiresome wanker you're dealing with.
posted by Phanx at 3:48 AM on June 19, 2008 [4 favorites]

For what it's worth, this may be a good place to mention an oldie but goodie from around the internet: Movie-A-Minute (and its sister site, Book-A-Minute).
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:50 AM on June 19, 2008

Jeff Canatta on The Totally Rad Show (yes, a blatant plug for one of MY favorite podcasts), I think pretty much hit the nail on the head why everyone loves Raiders and Crusade and doesnt like Temple and Skull, Raiders and Crusade focus on Indy as a person, he is human in those Movies. But in the other 2 he is just a "action figure"
posted by ShawnString at 4:24 AM on June 19, 2008

Okay, so does this make the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail actually alien artifacts, or do we have a Christian deity and crystal protoss running around on the same planet, both fucking around with humans?

Actually, it was the fridge that bothered me the most.
posted by Talanvor at 4:30 AM on June 19, 2008

I'm not a massive fan of the first three, Raiders certainly has its moments, but Temple of Doom was just messy and Last Crusade was just a retread of Raiders.

But I kinda liked Crystal Skull, I rate it on about the same level as Temple and Last Crusade. Yes, it didn't make much sense, and there were loads of bits obviously just stuck in there "for the kids" (basically, anything Shia LeBeouf does). I think the alien (sorry, interdimensional beings) plot worked ok, it was enough of a departure from its predecessors to feel fresh. It makes sense to the theme and setting of the film as well - the is a big-budget b-movie after all.
posted by hnnrs at 4:58 AM on June 19, 2008

A friend of mine went to see Neil Gaiman speak shortly before seeing Crystal Skull for the first time. He saw the movie again with me and told me what Gaiman talked about and how that affected his expectations for the film.

Gaiman was talking about genre pieces and the subject of porno as some sort of Ur-genre came up. (I'm probably getting the exact language wrong, so let's just roll with that for now.) In porno, it is obvious that the plot is an afterthought so long as the characters get down to fucking. The same could be said for a lot of genre fiction, he said. This stuck in my friend's head while he watched Crystal Skull for the first time, so he watched it as genre-porn. And it worked. In Crystal Skull, it's the action scenes and set pieces that matter, not the plot.

If someone sat you down and showed you an action scene or set piece out of Crystal Skull, you'd say to yourself, "Yeah, that's what Indiana Jones is all about!" A careening jeep chase through the jungle? A fight against skull-dressed savages in a forgotten barrow? A giant Aztec tomb/lost city? All that feels Indy to me. You could sell me on the movie just from that. I will gladly pay 10$ to see a movie where Indy fights against flesh-eating ants (Indy:snakes::me:ants).

Problem is, a creative effort of this type, scope, and scale is going to have a shitload of rules that need to be followed attached to it. Having required actors, directors, and writers also brings a bunch of rules. Having a studio lurking over all their shoulders brings still yet more rules. Now the plot isn't just a way of stringing together cool action scenes and set pieces, but a way of making sure all these rules are followed. The more rules introduced, the more overtaxed the plot, and the less sense everything makes as a whole.

And a lot of the rules, written or unwritten, set on Crystal Skull just plain suck. Some of them are of no fault of anyone (Rule: Indy must be older because Ford is older, therefore setting must be later) while others speak of studio interference (Rule: Indy must have sidekick that could possibly carry on the franchise) or poor creator decisions (Rule: Spielberg/Lucas wants aliens; Rule: Lucas must be involved in the first place). The plot isn't that strong to begin with, how could it hold up to all these rules AND still link together a bunch of action scenes and cool set pieces? I mean, some of the action scenes even have rules (Rule: There must be vehicular carnage), so it's no wonder the whole thing came out like some sort of computer algorithm of an Indiana Jones movie. You'd need an Access database just to cross-reference all the rules and scenes, let alone film them.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:01 AM on June 19, 2008 [7 favorites]

Their treasure was knowledge.
posted by unsupervised at 5:41 AM on June 19, 2008

it contains what may be the most astonishing visual Spielberg has ever done: Jones standing up watching a billowing mushroom cloud.

True, and it feels as if the rest of the movie was written around that image.

It's as if someone took the elements of the Indy formula, fed them into a computer, and had it spit out the most generic, soulless script ever.

Very true. Also, in the original movies even the minor characters are distinguished from each other. They feel like individuals. Crystal Skull barely manages to distinguish its four or five main characters from each other and the rest of the supporting cast just fade into a CGI fog.

Crystal Skull was charming in places; it wasn't as bad as Phantom Menace, say, but it wasn't nearly as good as The Young Indy Chronicles, either.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:55 AM on June 19, 2008

I went in with very low expectations and was still disappointed. No Nazis? No Judeo-Christian artifacts with at least a semi-reliable power? And, what's with the casting of Indy's spoilerfree sidekick? I am not normally someone who makes fun of people's names, excepting that sometimes they're utterly fitting to the roles they land.

Harrison Ford: A name that is part old school President and part ancient manufacturer of cars. It has an American resonance and a sense of better days gone by.

Shia LaBeouf: A name that reminds me of butter and French homosexuals.
posted by adipocere at 6:49 AM on June 19, 2008

The fridge was the best part. Also the most plausible part. It went downhill from there.
posted by condour75 at 6:52 AM on June 19, 2008

Yeah, the mushroom cloud scene was pretty awesome. I love Indy, I enjoyed this movie on a basic, pulp level, and I laughed my ass off at this abridged script.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:11 AM on June 19, 2008

I found the fridge part also fairly plausible. I mean, the writers actually bothered to write "LEAD" on the fridge, right? At least that's something.

For me, the worst part was the triple waterfalls. You cannot go down a jungle river without a waterfall apparently. And one of those deadly Niagara-style falls is impossible enough to survive. Let alone three and having every one survive. It's as if the writers thought they were doing something new by multiplying the same exact stunt three times.

But in the end (almost despite the end), I liked it. It was so over the top that it was fun.
posted by yeti at 7:21 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

I wound up enjoying this movie despite the plot holes you could drive a truck through. Face it - had you seen this movie when you were 11, you would have enjoyed it as much as the others in the series.

The fridge thing was a bit much, though. And I couldn't figure out why John Hurt didn't just return the skull when he went to the temple the first time.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:22 AM on June 19, 2008

I don't know why people hate this movie so much.

Because they want to believe that they're still childlike, with an intact sense of wonder and an ability to suspend disbelief, the way they were all those years ago when they first felt like they wanted to be Indy, out there in the amazing wide world saving the day, but actually all the years that have passed have made them bitter and cynical and drear and dusty, and their default mode is the gnawing cancer of modern culture: irony.

Or, you know, because the movie was just average, and it should have been FUCKING AWESOME.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:25 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

That's funny.

Pryvet, Harrison. I am evil Soviet. You vill help me find Moose and Squirrel, yes?


I enjoyed the film while I was watching it, but it doesn't bear any scrutiny. Really, all the damn sequels added nothing to RAIDERS other than the fun of seeing Sean Connery in LAST CRUSADE. I don't care it I ever see CRYSTAL SKULL again, but I'll be happy to watch RAIDERS anytime.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:39 AM on June 19, 2008

I liked that I (yet again!) had an opportunity to eat popcorn. And watch previews!
posted by everichon at 7:43 AM on June 19, 2008

And I couldn't figure out why John Hurt didn't just return the skull when he went to the temple the first time.
Because he never got further than the temple door the first time he was there. He didn't figure out the trick of removing the stone heads until after he got back home again and got locked up in the sanitarium. Indiana lampshaded this himself as they set about mutilating the ancient monument. (I mean, couldn't they have stopped after carefully pulling out the first head and then just been patient? The mechanism was triggered already by the rushing sand. It would have run out even without the wanton destruction. They didn't know at that point the aliens would demolish the temple themselves. I thought they're archeologists?)
posted by talitha_kumi at 8:06 AM on June 19, 2008

It's funny that I found the fridge thing the most unbelievable part of the movie. Alien skulls that magnetically attract gold? Sure, why not. They really kind of waffled around that, but I let it pass. But he would have been pulped inside that fridge, amirite?
posted by adamdschneider at 8:12 AM on June 19, 2008

But he would have been pulped inside that fridge, amirite?

No, probably not, but only because the heat generated by the nuclear reaction would, at that proximity, have most likely turned the refrigerator (and Indy) into a puddle of molten lead with a few ashes mixed in.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:27 AM on June 19, 2008

The nuclear blast was Speilberg's metaphor for the fate of the franchise, probably subconsciously induced by the pressure put on him by wholly unrealistic audience and studio expectations.

The graphic was awesome, too!
posted by Xoebe at 8:46 AM on June 19, 2008

Given that there's an impending celebratory Celtics parade (celtabration?) due to lurch past my window today and I have not a hell of a lot to do, here's my take on Indy 4.

The opening of the movie can stay pretty much the same. Hell, we can pull a Robert Evans and say that the gophers stay in the picture. Evil Commies have captured Indy and pal and are staging a raid on The Warehouse. There is something inside there that the commies want and only Indy can help them locate it. The MacGuffin is a Crystal Key that Indy stole from the Nazis during the fall of Berlin. It has the same magnetic properties as the alien corpse in the base movie.

Indy is confused as to why the commies would want the Key. It was just a target of opportunity that he snatched up while working on an OSI mission. Hell, it wasn't even the target of the mission - he was supposed to get a list of locations of Nazi gold and art that they were trying to squirrel away so that the Reich could rise again. In fact, he points out, if it were not for commie agents trying to do the same thing at the same time, he wouldn't have even got the damn key in the first place, "If your agents hadn't screwed things up in '45, you'd have had the damn key for years now," he grouses. The Angry Kommissar hits him.

The Cate Blanchett character makes her introduction and tells Indy that like as happens so often, "you never know what you have until it is gone." So they want the Key now and he'll have to help them get it. Threats, beatings, and the eventual location of the Key ensue. As does Indy's escape with the Key via that rocket sled thinggy. He escapes to the nuclear test suburb and realizes what the hell is going on. He even gets face to face with The Bomb (in a scene similar to the bag of sand and the idol in Raiders) and realizes that the Key's weird properties are messing with the countdown. It glows/hums when near powerlines and that is keeping The Bomb from going off. So he has to escape from the soon-to-be-blow'd-up suburbs on foot, keeping the Key within seven feet of the detonation line at all time. Physical humor and perhaps a bit with a snake or two coiled on the line follows. Indy makes good his escape, breaking into a sprint at the point where the lines arc up out of his reach, so there still can be that scene of him silhouetted against a mushroom cloud.

Indy has some experience with the Key, so he knows it will mess up sophisticated electronics over time unless wrapped in lead. He's trying to figure out how to transport a lead-lined fridge with him back to New Haven when the Feds pick him up and take the Key. Indy is interrogated in DC where he learns why the Commies want it so bad. Turns out the Nazis weren't just hiding gold and art, but powerful artifacts as well. The Key is a key to a vault of theirs in Brazil somewhere, a cache of powerful MacGuffins hidden in an Aztec/Incan/Whatever tomb. The Commies have found out about the Vault somehow and want to claim its power for their own.

"But how can they know about it?" Indy asks, "We got most of the Nazi cache locations. We didn't get them all because the Russians screwed up the '45 operation and those papers were destroyed!"

"Zey muss hav help," interjects an older, creepy German (!) voice. Oh no! So remember Project Paperclip, where the US extracted Nazi scientists before the Russians could get them? Well, both the US and the Russians did the same thing with archeologists. This German, let's call him Herr Doktor (he can be played by Jim Broadbent as I've nixed his character as a waste of time) for the moment, is one of the guys the US snatched at the end of the war. His specialty is pre-Roman Europe, but he knows about the Nazi caches (even if he doesn't know where they are) and the program for hiding the stuff around the world. If the Russians got Siegfried von Krauss (he can be Ray Winstone, whose character is also washed away), the SS man in charge of the American caches, then they know where the Vault is and that they need the Key to open it. ("we too have a map to the Ark...")

"So how do we find it? Those papers were destroyed!" Indy demands. well, it turns out that the person who first found the Vault was an archeologist named Harold Oxley who went missing recently. If Indy can help find him, perhaps the US Government is willing to look over his breaching of a The Warehouse and hanging around with Commies. "I'd rather hang around with a pinko Commie than a dirty rat Nazi," Indy spits, glaring at Herr Doktor.

Indy has to accompany two Feds as they Men In Black their way through Oxley's house. While ransacking, they spot a greaser breaking in/loitering/escaping. They give chase. Indy, being Indy, catches up with the kid who reveals himself to be Oxley's adopted son and in possession of Ox's journal. Ox fled the country once he discovered what was being held in the site he discovered years ago. It seems that US was trying to strong arm him into revealing its location, though they never said why, and "you know OX, he doesn't like being told what to do by anyone."

Okay, so now we can have Indy and Mutt do their getting to know you thing. Working together, they get an idea as to not only where Ox is, but where the Vault is too. They can still be chased by KGB agents through Yale. Hell, let's have them be chased by both KGB and CIA to the point where you can't tell which is which! ZOMG MESSAGE!

Now we do the map thing and John Williams gets his chance to shine.

Mutt and Indy get off the plane in South America Land where they're met by Marion from the first movie! Mutt starts to say Hi to his mom, but she cuts him off with a hand gesture and plants a big ole kiss on a shocked Indy! As they break the embrace, Indy starts to ask about her being still mad at him, but she cuts him off to warn him that they are being watched and that he should run and take their son (!) as far away from here as possible. Indy looks even more shocked just in time to get captured by Cate Blanchett and the Ruskies. Apparently, Herr von Krauss wants to meet Indy.

So while Marion, Mutt, and Indy are taken to wherever the Commies are chilling (via jeep, of course), they recap what the hell is going on. Ox is missing, Indy stood up Marion, Mutt is their kid. Mutt and Indy know where the Vault is, but so do the Commies. Mutt suspects that Ox has gone off to try and destroy the Vault to keep its contents from falling into anyone's hands.

Later that night at camp Commie, Indy is being interrogated. "Why are you doing this? I don't have anything you want. I don't even have the key!" "I do zis because I vant too, Doktor Jones," purrs Cate between slaps, "I alzo do zis!" she says as she kisses him. She offers to be very nice to him if he tells her the location of other powerful artifacts (like the Ark, Grail, Spear, etc) that he's uncovered over the years. Indy asks why the Commies are so big on getting these artifacts and the stuff from the Vault. Cate reveals that the old Czars had a host of artifacts they used to keep in power, stuff that the young Commies scoffed at and chucked out when they came to power. "I hear Comrades Stalin and Trotsky had a bit of a valling out over that decision," she shrugs, "You never know what you have until it is gone." She goes back to tempting him just as von Krauss makes his first appearance, leading Marion in at gunpoint. Marion sees Indy apparently being Indy. Awkward!

Banter ensues. Von Krauss lays out how awesome the stuff in the Vault is, Indy points out that they still don't have the Key. "I would not be so sure of that," chimes in a new voice. Herr Doktor! He totally stole the Key from the US! "I knew you could never trust a Nazi," grumbles Indy. "You are right," says one of the Germans as they both pull guns on the assembled Americans and Russians!

Outside the tent it turns out there's a bunch of older, grizzled Germans who got the drop on the more numerous Russians. Von Krauss gives a speech about restoring the Reich to its former glory, but is cut short at the approach of still yet more Russians. Then the Germans are off with the Key (safely locked away in a lead box). Half the Russians chase after them, the other half stay and hold Indy et al captive. Cate threatens to kill Marion and Mutt unless Indy can get them to the Vault before the Germans. He concedes.

So the next day, we get our big jeep chase. Except now it is between three groups, the Russians, the Germans, and Team Indy. We can have all the ant-baiting and monkey-swinging we had in the base picture. we also get to the point where the Key's box is being passed around from faction to faction and everyone fights everybody.

Team Indy gets to the Vault with the Key just barely ahead of the other two, now mostly depleted of no name minions. There they reunite with Ox who says that for the sake of the world, they have to keep this stuff from falling into anybody's hands. These gifts, were they spread out, would cancel each other out, but now that they are together, they'd allow one people to rule the world.

Indy agrees and it's a race through the trapped tomb.

At the climax, we get all the principals together in a big chamber that's just packed to the gills with stuff. The Russian and German archeologists each grab fabled weapons/magical stuffs and use them to fight each other. Big special effects. While they fight, Team Indy sets about setting off the required Tomb Self Destruct feature. The Bad Guys realize what's happening and begin to direct some of their magical malice their way. Ox grabs some sort of artifact and use it to defend the good guys. In the end, Oxley must stay behind and defend the self destruct mechanism to make sure that his 'family,' can escape. He makes Indy promise to not abandon them again and he does so, showing that he never knew what he had until it was gone.

So, saddened by the loss of their friend and the wealth of artifacts the Vault contained, Team Indy departs. While nobody is watching, though, Mutt grabs something from the Vault and sticks it in his pocket. What could it be? A sequel perhaps? Maybe a spin-off? Dun dun dunnnnn...

Next is the wedding and the magic sequel breeze. The End.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:55 AM on June 19, 2008 [33 favorites]

That was awesome robocop is bleeding. I'm going to actively pretend that was the movie I actually saw...

We watched the first three before going to the cinema for the fourth one. One of us had never seen them. She liked the 1st and the 3rd one and (actively) disliked Temple of Doom and Kingdom. For what it's worth.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:18 AM on June 19, 2008

Maybe Indiana Jones is the reverse of Star Trek. The odd-numbered Indiana Jones movies are the good ones. (If they had numbers, and it's OK if they don't, since the Star Trek pattern held even after they stopped giving the movies actual numbers, at least through #9.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:54 AM on June 19, 2008

I think Sean Connery summed it up best in Last Crusade: We named the dog Indiana. Because the franchise has become a dog.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:24 AM on June 19, 2008

Wow, somebody thought it would be a good idea to emulate Mad Magazine without the clever illustrations and witty name-changes? Indeed.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:38 AM on June 19, 2008

This bugged me the most:
Wait, what are they chasing us through? Are there roads in the middle of the jungle? Why the hell did we bother showing that tree-cutting thing if we were just going to contradict the very thing it was trying to establish?
Also, the people who were built into the walls of the temple.

It was nice to see Karen Allen again, but they watered down her character. One of the best things about Raiders is she's tough, can literally drink people under the table, and is pretty equal with Indiana Jones. In this one she's more of a damsel in distress.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:37 AM on June 19, 2008

What is up with the Temple of Doom hate? It is fucking awesome. Seriously. The End.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:44 AM on June 19, 2008

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the drama regarding Frank Darabont and the original version of the script. [PDF]

The plot seems hacked together by committee because it was, against the wishes of everyone but George Lucas.
posted by designbot at 11:48 AM on June 19, 2008

Scary sword guy shoots first.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:59 AM on June 19, 2008

prairie dogs ftw

I found Kingdom of the Crystal Skull far too baffling to absolutely hate. I think much of what caused this cognitive dissonance was that the things I expected to have been absolutely fucked up were the bits that were actually done ... well ... not well, per se, but passably. Like the whole working with an Indiana Jones who is 20 years older or the throwbacks to the other movies ... they actually did this in a way that didn't upset me.

Everything else, however ... I mean, there's no other mention of that Russian lady's paranormal abilities beyond her inability to read Jones' mind? Wait ... Jones was an undercover operative for the government? And, in the end, so ... okay ...

So, he loses his job for working with the "Commies", right? But, then, in the end, after seemingly further working with the infinite supply of Soviets in South America with absolutely nothing whatsoever to back up any archaeological claims he might later make, he not only gets his job back, but a promotion, too? WTF?
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:02 PM on June 19, 2008

At least it didn't have Kate Capshaw screaming every five seconds.
posted by stavrogin at 12:25 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

That mushroom cloud was one of the best i've ever seen. That image was like a pulp novel cover.
posted by Miles Long at 1:11 PM on June 19, 2008

Here was my takeaway, and it surprised me at the very end that this is what would bother me, but it came at the very end.

The hat blows onto the floor of the church, and the kid picks it up, the theme is building... and IJ snatches it up, ruffles the kid's hair/head (or am I imagining that bit?) and grins and off the happy couple goes, leaving the kid to look like a doufus through the credits, finally combing his hair again.

Yes it was meant to be cute and the false cue was part of that. Thing is, this supposed to be the wrap-up for the franchise (is it not?). I truly believe that a younger Lucas and Spielberg would have let the kid hang on to that hat. After all, the earlier movies were about youth and adventure, and sending off the franchise with the "new" Jones just starting out would have been a cool, if completely foreseeable, way to end. But Lucas and Spielberg are two old guys, and this movie wasn't made for kids; it was made for them. So they made the ending that satisfied. The kid stays the young whippersnapper and the old man still has the magic. End. That, frankly, sucks.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:33 PM on June 19, 2008

Also, the people who were built into the walls of the temple.

Oh Jesus that fucking bugged me too.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:34 PM on June 19, 2008


Long convoy of Soviet soldiers roll down a deserted highway in Nevada. They get distracted by a group of rowdy teenagers who pass them in a car.

They miss the turn off to Area 51.

posted by storybored at 8:06 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

You know what bugged me about the film that no one else seems to care about?

The masked freaks in the graveyard where Harrison and Shia find the skull. Who the heck were they? What the frak were they doing there?

Yeah, I know, no one here cares either.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:10 PM on June 19, 2008

NATASHA: Where's LaBoeuf?

LABOEUF jumps out with sword.

LABOEUF: Here I am!

Natasha shoots him with a gun.


posted by storybored at 8:17 PM on June 19, 2008

So, essentially what the lovers of Skull are saying is that since it is impossible for filmakers to take a movie you liked as a kid and make a sequel you would like as an adult, therefore the studios shouldn't even bother. Furthermore we should just all lower our expectations, turn off our minds, and just be dumbly entertained.

Well I call this bullshit.
posted by Vindaloo at 5:55 AM on June 20, 2008

The worst part for me is "Ray Winstone's unexplained lower body paralysis" that happens in the climax.
posted by autodidact at 7:15 AM on June 20, 2008

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