Thursday, May 29, 2008

Indiana Jones: A Review, Or How I Learned to Survive An Atomic Blast

I've been busy the last couple of weeks. I moved up to Austin (again, and for the last time) a couple of weeks ago with my girlfriend, Stephanie. We found a nice little duplex off of Slaughter and settled in well. Our friends, Patrick and Ray, moved into the other half of the duplex, which means we'll either A.) wind up hating each other, or B.) nothing will ever get done. So far, "B" seems to be the winning choice.

Last Tuesday I went to the hospital because my mother was getting a heart catheter put in to see if she had any blockage...and she did. So much so, in fact, that they had to do emergency triple bypass surgery to save her life. As such, I've been in Houston for a while hoping my mother recovered -- and she did -- so I could breath easy.

All of this brings us to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a movie I've been dying to see. I missed opening weekend for obvious and important reasons, so now that I was back in Austin I could finally see it! I'm 24 years old, which means I've never seen Indiana Jones on the big screen before. Although, I consider the series to be my favorite movie series ever, I've never had the pleasure of seeing any of them in the theater.So, obviously, I'd see it at the Alamo Drafthouse because, well, why would you go anywhere else, right? I caught a matinée showing yesterday with my girlfriend, Stephanie, and Patrick (with surprise guest, my old roommate Nick, and his girlfriend) and sat in the middle row, middle of the row, because I have to do that. I'm compelled to do that.

Alamo Drafthouse always shows great trailers before they're movies, especially if they have old trailers that somehow tie into the the movie you're about to see-- which is what they did. The Raiders of the Lost Ark trailer played before the movie and it was old, and shitty-looking, but most importantly: magical. I would've died to be able to see that movie on the big screen! There were some other trailers -- one starring Shia Lebouf -- and some regular Drafthouse fair about shutting the fuck up in the theater when it happened. The logo. No matter how excited I am for a movie, no matter how many times I've seen certain movies, there's no greater joy for me than seeing Lucasfilm Ltd. sparkle its way onto the screen. It's like a magical contract you've signed with your heart. OK, it's not like that, but you do know you're in for a memorable ride-- for better or for worse.

Indiana Jones sort of fits between those two extremes. It was strange, really. It was like watching Indiana Jones, but not in an Indiana Jones movie. I know that sounds weird, but that's the best way to describe it. The characters were all there and they fit nicely into the Indyverse, but there was a spark missing for some reason. Now, that spark could've been missing for a number a reasons. Lucas, Spielberg, and Ford are all a lot older now, and maybe they're out of touch with what is cool now? Maybe. But I think it was more likely that the script was just...weird. There is a lot going on this movie-- just like you would expect, but the majority of it never really comes to together. Often times I sat and wondered "Why is this in here?" Apparently, David Koepp has the answer to this as he "stitched" several drafts together to create this movie. Which is a big problem.

That was a biggest problem for me. I could go on and on about little things, or ridiculous scenes, but it all boils down to one thing: it's disjointed. Nothing in the movie matches up and thats why many people are leaving the theaters scratching their heads going, "Wow... geez... that was... what did you think... because I.... hmm..." Like the other Indiana Jones movies, this one leaves you with a sense of wonder-- a wondering what happened. There are several head-scratching moments to be found throughout, like when Indiana Jones haplessly his way onto a nuclear test site and has to hide in a fridge (seriously) to survive the blast. Then it cuts to him back home, safe and sound, being questioned and treated as a traitor to America, something that never rears back up again despite the story making you think this is important. Okaaay.

What also didn't help was the lack of urgency. At no time (expect the jungle sequence) did you feel like Indy and crew were really in trouble.
*Highlight the next part to read it-- I have a spoiler!*
For example: Indy and Marion are trapped in a quicksand sort of pit when Marion spills the beans on Mutt (Lebouf) being his son. This seems like the kind of thing that would build and build, there would be a lot of emotion surrounding it, or at least some type of crescendo in the action, but there isn't. She kind of casually mentions it, like she isn't about the die.

I mentioned the jungle scene. That was a cool scene. That felt like an Indiana Jones movie... until Shia literally Tarzan's through the jungle with a gang of monkeys. Literally. Besides that you had all the elements of an Indy movie: fights, explosions, jokes, gruesome deaths, and Indy being Indy. There are more elements, but that scene really just had those.

Even the end, when all the sci-fi stuff happened; that didn't really bother me. Yes, it's about aliens, but how is that more extreme that Indy finding the Ark-- the fucking Ark of the Covenant-- and watching (read: hearing) it eat Nazis? The sci-fi thing made sense. Hitler was all about the occult-- that's documented. Once WWII was over the world entered a state of technological leaps and explorations. After all, the Cold War was a war about technology, so the alien thing fit because that's what this was about: a race for technology.

You should still see this movie simply because it's an Indiana Jones movie. I was glad to see it. However, as someone who likes movies this particular film was flat and hollow. It wasn't a full film, and that makes me wonder: were Lucas and Spielberg trying to make a new Indiana Jones movie, or were they trying to make a summer blockbuster?

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I'm trying out a new blog template, so tell me what you think. I like this one a lot, but I'd be nice if I could design my own, or at least have more of a say in what the template looks like...

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Wanna See Iron Man for Free?

You can! All it costs is your dignity (maybe). Mr. Harry Knowles-- in usual cool fashion-- has set up a free screening of Iron Man at the Alamo Drafthouse next Monday night! Hit the link and read all about the rules. Yes, the rules, because nothing is really free. I would totally compete in this, but I already have plans for that night that cannot be broken because the power of BBQ is too strong, and my stomach is too weak.

If you know anyone who lives in Chicago, then you may want to clue them in on this. Now everyone gets a shot a free screening!

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Friday, April 18, 2008


Mortal Kombat...versus...DC Comics? Nothing about this makes sense. Marvel vs. Capcom made sense because despite both being from different mediums they were still both comic bookish in nature, but this, this is not natural.

Despite everything, Sub Zero is fighting Batman in the clip above, so I'm sold no matter how little sense this all makes. I'm still working this all out in my head, but how are they going to have fatalities? The DC super-heroes aren't going to kill anyone. They don't in the comics and there's no way DC would portray their characters killing anyone for any reason-- especially Batman and Superman!

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Quint on Chan!

AICN has a good interview with Jackie Chan about all things Jackie Chan. The meat of the interview is about The Forbidden Kingdom starring Chan and Jet-Li, but they get into an interesting chat about American action movies versus Chinese action movies.

For example, Chan says that movies like Rush Hour 1 and 2 (he never mentions 3, by the way) were huge hits here in America, but had lackluster box office returns in China. OK, it straight up bombed in China. He goes on to say, however, that movies the Chinese audience loves never do well here.

Anyway, it's a pretty good read if you like Jackie Chan. And even if you don't it's still a good read because it really seems like Jackie didn't care too much for his own movie, which is damn shame since he and Jet-Li finally teamed up.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Strong Bad vs. The Wii

If you pay any attention to game magazines you've no doubt seen all the WiiWare coverage. However, you may not know about this gem of gems. That's right: Strong Bad is getting is own game.

There's not much else to say here. Head over to homestarrunner if you've never heard of it and prepare thyself.

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Iron Man Suits Revealed

Marvel is really pushing this movie. Which is fine. Exposure is always good and everything shown so far has looked excellent, including the game. It's also nice to see Tony Stark as a likeable character again. After being demonized in Civil War he's been nothing but dumped on in the comic world. With Downey Jr. as ol' shell head we're getting a kinder, gentler Tony Stark. We're seeing him before his drinking problem, before he fixed his own heart, and before he was blamed for Captain America's death.

But I digress.

The video game, helmed by SEGA, looks sharp. Recently, SEGA revealed all the unlockable suits in the game. The collection looks good, but I found it odd that War Machine wasn't included. I figured they'd throw that one in to tease fans for inevitable next movie.

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