May 22, 2008


The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: Indy is back — impatient for the chase and predictably entertaining. (Thomas S. Hibbs, 5/22/08, National Review)

I had three worries going into the film. The first had to do with whether Harrison Ford was still up to the task of playing Indiana Jones, whether he would still look the part and play it with the same charming combination of wit and seriousness, innocence and toughness. I’m happy to say that he pulls it off effortlessly.

The second worry was about Shia LaBeouf — whether the introduction of a young sidekick to Indiana Jones would harm or enhance the story. A motorcycle-driving tough kid, Mutt is equal parts James Dean and, well, Fonzie from Happy Days. From the very first scene in which he meets Indy — ending in a motorcycle chase with Indy riding on the back — the repartée and chemistry between Ford and LaBeouf is pitch-perfect. Filmed in New Haven on the Yale campus, the motorcycle chase is one of the most memorable scenes in the film.

Initially skeptical of what use a teacher could be in a dangerous quest for valuable antiquities, Mutt learns the hard way about Indy’s skills. Surrounded in the jungle by unfriendly natives, Indy saves Mutt’s life by reversing the path of a poison dart so that it kills the attacker. An astonished Mutt asks, “Are you really a teacher?” To which Indy responds with a wry smile, “Part-time.”

The third concern about the film was about how fresh it would seem, whether viewers would have a sense of discovery or novelty about the plot or the characters. Here the film comes up short. The first chase sequence, in the desert — which has Indy overcoming not just gunfire but a full-scale nuclear attack — is completely over-the-top. After that, the film settles down a bit, but its eagerness to get on to the next chase scene gives the entire plot an impatient feel.

Who watched Saturday Morning serials for freshness?

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 22, 2008 6:53 PM

You ask; "Who watched Saturday Morning serials for freshness?"
I ask, were there any on TV following your birth?
Of course not! Not that your birth had anything to do with that!
Did you mean "Saturday Matinee Serials"? Again, all waaay before your time.
From this old man's viewpoint, the closer to the 40's/50's Saturday Matinee, the better.
Which is why, imo, the "franchise" was better at one than two or three! Hopefully, contrary to "Star Wars" four here will be better than Lucas' 1,2,3,6! You do the math.

Posted by: Mike at May 22, 2008 9:28 PM

Yes, we got Buck Rogers & Gene Autry.

Posted by: oj at May 22, 2008 10:06 PM

Don't forget Ramar of the Jungle.

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 23, 2008 4:40 AM

I've got Rocky Jones: Space Ranger coming from Netflix next week. Not technically a movie serial (it wasn't shown in theaters) it was a great early science fiction series. And the wicked Empress Cleolanta is smoking hot.

Posted by: Bryan at May 23, 2008 6:52 AM

Two words: Jonny Quest

Posted by: Mike Morley at May 23, 2008 9:56 AM

You only got Gene & Buck on DVD/Netflix, both were long gone from TV, let alone theaters, prior to your birth.
Lou: Ramar; You know what we're talkin' about! No TV, just Saturday morning matinees!
Byran: Wow! Netflix is now giving you what I watched as an 11 year old.
Morley: Johnny Quest? Give me a break!
Back to the new "Indy" film, from reviews would seem to be not up to the standard set by the first! Of course 2 & 3 also failed this test,

Posted by: Mike at May 23, 2008 10:49 PM

No, they weren't. PBS used to show Buck. But NYC also had WPIX, WOR, and a couple other non network channels with tons of time slots to fill.

Posted by: oj at May 23, 2008 11:34 PM