Written by: Mike McCafferty (Slice of SciFi Guest Contributor)
Indy IV is coming to theatres this May 22nd (bit torrent may 23rd!) and I think most of us are feeling the same mixed emotions. It’s best summed up as the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark (Oh, excuse me: INDIANA JONES and The Raiders of the Lost Ark. What the hell does that title mean? Isn’t HE the raider? Are Salah and Marion alone considered the true “Raiders” or have we moved that to the Nazis?) where the Nazis open the Ark. There’s the hope that Indy IV will be full of those “It’s beautiful!!” angels, but a sinking feeling that we could all get our faces melted by the demons of a crappy movie.
To be fair, there’s a lot going for this film. By my count, three of the four big names have returned for this installment: Spielberg, Ford and Williams.
Oh, but wait, Mike! You forgot Lucas! George Lucas!!
I’m gonna inflame every Star Wars chat room this side of the (insert obscure Star Wars location here) Spice Mines of Kessel (Boo-yah!) and say that if this movie is gonna fail, there’s a possibility that it’s gonna be Lucas’ fault.
On some level, you’re with me on this. You’ve heard the stories of how Spielberg and Ford probably wanted to do a fourth film in the last 20 years but always said no because they just didn’t like the story idea that Lucas kept pushing. You read on the internet how screenwriting giants like Frank Darabont and M. Night Shamayalan took stabs at the script only to be vetoed by Lucas and his fervor to maintain control of his version. You cross-referenced your trust in Lucas in the last 10 years with the stinging memory of Jar-Jar Binks and midi-chlorians, and found doubt seeping from your pores. Try as you might, there’s that little Toht on shoulder saying “Shoot zem — he should shoot both scripts from the screenwriters!” (Hah! Now that’s comedy!)
And then came the title. For twenty years you had constructed your own titles to his extended adventures. Titles carefully crafted from you role-playing them out on your couches, staircases, hoods of cars, trees with vines and garage doors. Twenty years of waiting and hoping until finally it arrives.
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”
I’m sorry, what? What the hell is that?
Suddenly every die-hard fan’s heart sinks just a little bit. Somehow it sounds as obtuse and pretentious as The Phantom Menace. You look at the poster and see that the crystal skull looks a lot like an alien skull. Wait, this is what he’s been sitting on for 20 years? Suddenly, I can picture the years of eye rolling by Spielberg and Ford as George launches into the story. Like a Bizzaro “Jerry Maguire” movie, he lost them at “Crystal Skull”.
There’s still every possibility that this will be a good or pretty good movie. Alone, Spielberg, Ford and Williams have elevated films well above their common stations. I also might be riding Lucas too hard as well. After all, he’s been working on this for 20 years, right? But I can’t help but think that a movie without a good script is like the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders. It’s pretty on the outside and certainly a historical treasure, but inside there are no angels or demons, merely sand. The film has a very real chance of being empty in it’s center, and mediocrity is what truly scares us in the cinema, and probably life too.
Maybe I’m being too harsh on this… I dunno. I can blog all I want about how crappy this film may turn out, and yet drive by the Sherman Oaks Galleria on May 21st and you’ll probably see me camped out with all the other true believers, fedora on head, building my Indiana Jones Lego Temple of Doom set while humming “Marion’s Theme” in my head. I guess I’m just lowering my expectations because I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed. There’s a 12-year-old kid inside of me that wants above almost anything to go on another adventure with Indiana Jones. I guess the adult part of me is shielding him with cynicism and sarcasm to brunt the fall should it be anything less than perfect. Maybe I just need to turn off the adult in me and hang on to the nearest tree vine and this film will be everything it needs to be.
Wait… is Shia LeBeouf in this? Oh, crap…