Indiana Jones and the Movie of Lowered Expectations!

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!!

Did I?

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…


  1. says

    I think turning off the adult in you has to be the strategy. It does always seem to be the way that the things we liked as kids often dissapoint when we revisit them as adults – perhaps other than nostalgic value.

    I am hoping they get it right, make a great movie and keep a quality franchise intact…..fingers crossed.

  2. says

    There we go with the hyperbole. I mean, do these things really improve the discourse or is it about “hey, that Mike McCafferty is CRAZY, man!”

    The only actual point of contention I have is the description for the poster on sale at the online store states that it is a “snake.” Yes, apparently perhaps it could be a snake skull.

    Also, perhaps is behooves people to go look up the legend of the crystal skulls and find out that it is perhaps one of the greatest mysteries on this planet.

    I’m just sayin’ is all. Blog posts are great, but a little editorial honesty would be… you know… different.

  3. says

    I’d heard about the crystal skulls for years before this movie was announced, so my response when I heard the title was “Hey, THAT’s a cool idea.” But I’ve been burned by Lucas too many times in the last ten years for me to trust anything he does.

    The one bit of optimism I have for this film stems from the fact that Spielberg reportedly wouldn’t let Lucas touch the movie’s actual production. “I just want George to be able to relax on this one…” Yeah, sure Steve. We all know that translates into “This man has poisoned everything he touched since HOWARD THE DUCK. I will not let him destroy my reputation!” Let’s hope he succeeds in keeping George away from the cutting room…

  4. Matthew says

    I understand what is being said, and I am a huge Lucas apologist, but always remember the story ideas Lucas has are usually great, it is when he writes the script that stuff falls apart. As long as Lucas doesn’t write the script and Steven is directing, then I think we are in for one fabulous ride.

  5. says

    Actually, from the posters, the skull that’s there doesn’t look like any of the crystal skulls I’ve ever seen, so George coming up with an idea to investigate a real mystery like that would be cool.

    But it doesn’t seem like he did that. So also long as in reality he’s just “name only” on the scriptwriting and directing, I’ll give the title a pass.

    And sometimes, a rant is just a rant. Not every blog post on the planet has to raise the level of discourse… if it did, then all of the political blogs on the planet have doomed us to never evolve.

    So don’t take it so seriously, Jim :)

  6. says

    I MUST take it seriously! Don’t you know who I am? 😛

    One thing I would direct you to, as far as Lucas’ stories go, would be the continuation of the “Willow” story, with the “Shadow War” novel trilogy. Shadow Moon, Shadow Dawn, and Shadow Star take the story of Elora Danan from Willow and shatter it to pieces in a great way!

    She turns into a spoiled brat, and from the opening pages Willow’s life turns completely different. Imagine Tyrion Lannister as a noble but slightly tortured mage. It’s absolutely fabulous.

    So George Lucas comes up with FANTASTIC stories. He just never could write a good script or novel.

  7. tim and darcy low says

    leave george lucas aloooooone!



    remember what that little girl said on yahoo. don’t mess with darth vader, cause he’ll get ya.

  8. Gavin says

    These films are my favorite films of all time. So yes, the expectations are pretty high. And like Mike, I got really nervous when I read the Vanity Fair article alluding to Area 54 hijinks. After watching the trailer though, I can’t help but admitting to getting really giddy with excitement. There’s something about that score that makes me feel like I’m ten again. I think you could play that score over a shot of Harrison Ford making a peanut butter sandwich and I’d be amped. One other thing about the trailer is that it’s shot beautifully, so that gives me hope. I’m being optimistic, and counting on Ford and Spielberg not to let a lame horse out of the gate.

    “I very small! You cheat very big!”

  9. Robotic Gorilla says

    My expectations are a little low, yes, because of the very reasons you’ve mentioned.

    However I’ve always been gifted at turning off the adult in my head and letting the little kid in me run around in whatever fantasy world we’ve flung ourselves into, and I’m looking forward to doing that with this film!

    Afterwards, sure, I may look back and say “What the…” – but during, I’m gonna work hard to perch on Indy’s shoulder and ride the ride!

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