Saturday, May 24, 2008

Movie Review: Indiana Jones & Kingdom Of Crystal Skull

Spielberg has created an Indiana Jones world as a Rajinikanth parallel world unto itself. When Indi sits inside a Lead insulated fridge at the epicenter of nuclear explosion. The fridge is thrown 3 miles out and as it falls down, the door opens and Indi just rolls out and starts walking. You are reminded that things that happen in that world aren't logical, believable or even possible but they are really entertaining. One has to remember why one liked 'Raiders of The Lost ArK' and why one thought the Last Crusade wasn't as good as the Raiders, to put this movie into context. We loved Raiders because of the Adventure, the characters, the 'cool' laid back way in which it was told, the amazingly stylish presentation and a smooth storyline. Not because of its believability. In fact the fantastic'ness of the storyline added lustre to those movies. Yes! this movie just like 'Temple of Doom' and 'Last Crusade' cannot compare to Raiders. But that is only because these movies were preceded by a movie that is so close to our hearts and that we feel extremely nostalgic about. Barring this - the movie captures all the elements that I liked in Raiders and reopened the Hollywood 'masala' Adventure genre in its truest sense. This is the definition of a stylishly made adventure movie. Our hearts race, we lean forward expecting some grave to open or some large insect like creature to suck the blood out of the characters in milliseconds.

The movie opens with the mandatory jokes about Harrison Ford's age which unfortunately impact's Indiana Jones' age. Spielberg knows that the audience will notice Harrison Ford's age and joke about it. So he makes the Jones and other character's preempt those jokes by talking about it first. This, I suppose will lighten the impact. Harrison ford looks old. He even crouches a little when standing and walking. It is hard to believe that it is Ford who walks up all those crates quickly in the opening scene. Age is a cruel and sad process. The story is reasonably tight. Although one wonders that it could have had more twists and turns to match the previous story lines. I think the story aspect must have been the hardest part of this movie. I can imagine why many story writers (Shyamalan was one) struggled when asked to come up with one. Given that most plots have already been exhausted and it is impossible to match the freshness of 'Raiders of The Lost Ark', this is a hard job. This movie has the Russians as villains. Hollywood has moved on from using Russians as villains. The thinking nowadays is to have Aliens and Large Animals as villains. The psychic team among the Russians ( I suppose they are KGB) are interested in finding the missing 13th skull of a council of 13 Aliens (they other 12 skulls are intact on the Alien's head). The russian leader seeks to "know everything" by completing the head count (he he).

The puzzles that Indiana Jones solves in his movies are more interesting than the end that he seeks to achieve by solving those puzzles. The action sequences are usually taken very imaginatively and stylishly. A good dose of humor is added to make everything really interesting. This movie has a little less of the puzzles, less of humor (there were some attempts made at it though) and more of action. Spielberg has to be given credit for the way he conceives the action sequences. The bike chases, the van chases, the grave yard fights, and many many others are all very creative and stylish. The small little plots that he creates to execute the action sequences are simply marvelous. The creativity he shows in building the sets and the suspense is fantastic. Some of the sets are breathtaking. Among the really great action sequences were the ants, the small monkey sequence and especially the receding circular stairs. The thrill that one experiences upon seeing such stunning action sequences brings joy. This is why I go for movies. Yes! I may never get to experience the freshness of seeing a movie like Raiders again. I am slightly disappointed that Spielberg has explored the same concept again instead of creating new fresher concepts. But this movie will entertain you in its own unique way.

5 comments:

Arun Sundar said...

Spielberg only gets younger movie by movie!

Mambalam Mani said...

I didnt like the movie much. Somehow it lacked the charm of the previous ones. Agreed that the series have been about absurdities that still make a good watch, but the inclusion of nuclear explosions, aliens, etc somehow made it looked too out of place in the movie.

Anonymous said...

It was crap. Aliens? Tarzan-style roping off with monkeys? And the special effects was a disaster. I have come to hate special effects. Nowadays, they tend to mar movies

Hawkeye said...

arun,

i still cant stop admiring the kutti kutti things he does.

mani,

nuclear explosion was a little too much

anon,

well special effects - they have their own charm and they will get replaced.

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