Saturday, 14 June 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Disappointment

So I waited 20 years for it. I read the updates that seeped out every few years from George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, snippets of their conversations with each other around whether or not they should even bother making another, and if so, what should the MacGuffin be? They'd had the lost Ark of the Covenant, a bunch of Sankara stones and the Holy Grail... so... um... the Chinese legend of the Monkey King? Atlantis?

Well, they decided. And they made the movie. But was it any good?

I for one enjoyed the film, but hard as they'd tried it could never have lived up to 20 years of expectation. If you're interested, I think the first half is outstanding, nearing perfection in banter, innovation and spectacle (and I forgive the ridiculous "flying fridge" moment... the spectacle of that scene is still a wonder...), but once they reach that jungle... oh dear... I understand the 50's setting virtually dictates its theme: aliens, communism, paranoia (the latter of which resonates well in our day and age of "terrorists living next door"). But the way the story plays out on the road to Eldorado is flabby, lame and ultimately unsatisfying.

Anyways, that's just my humble opinion. It's a good film but not a classic. It would never compare to Raiders of the Lost Ark (now that's a near-perfect blockbuster in script, cinematography, action, dialogue, acting; counted along with Jaws , SW Episode IV & V, Aliens and not many more) but it handles itself. Unfortunately, this year we've been spoilt with the hard-heads of Iron Man, Hulk and Dark Knight... As for other people, so many I've spoken to feel very let down by Indy Jones IV. And it's all down to the script.

Now, there's a Frank Darabont's draft out there - he's the guy behind Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption, The Mist - and I've wanted to read it for a long while. Lucas and Spielberg commissioned him to write something that became "Indiana Jones and the City of Gods" but subsequently passed on his take. It's been leaked, something which was bound to happen at some point, and I'm intrigued about the film Indy Jones IV might have been, but again the same niggle worries me: I could be equally disappointed by reading a utopian "what-if" to find out that it too would have failed to reach expectations (which is exactly the reports I'm hearing).

Why do we do this? Why do we hope for something that is almost certainly likely to let us down? Something in the way we're wired? Read more!