Friday, March 25, 2016

Crystal Skull or Temple of Doom: Which is less bad?

In the seven-plus years since the fourth Indian Jones movie came out, I've steadfastly maintained that, while it's not good, as IJ movies go, it's not as bad as Temple of Doom. Going in, I wanted to like Crystal Skull. My hopes were incredibly high after such a long wait since Last Crusade. And it had Marion. MARION! I knew my hopes were higher than the movie could realistically meet, because I'd heard the bad buzz, and I knew all about the years of struggle over the script, and the insanity with Lucas insisting that there had to be aliens. So, being a grown-up(in some senses at least) I was able to bring my expectations down (I had a lot of practice doing this in my years as a Cubs fan). And I didn't hate it. I knew it wasn't great, but I enjoyed myself. I didn't mind Shia LaBeouf as much as most people seem to, and I was able to get on board with the weird alien crap.

Today I listened to this hour-plus podcast about the movie and all its plot holes and flaws. I'd never heard of this podcast before, but Stitcher brought it up in my recommended list, so I thought, what the hell. Basically, these podcasters (3-4 dudes and one woman) have problems with the overuse of CGI (a valid point), the implausible plot points (um, it's an Indiana Jones movie?) and the story elements that are brought up once and don't get any follow-up (another valid point). Yes, the movie has problems, but these folks are harder on it than it warrants.

In the final 10 minutes of the podcast they address Temple of Doom, noting that most people like it less than Raiders and Last Crusade but that it's not as bad as Crystal Skull. At least one of them says that people's complaints about it--the annoying and sexist female lead, primarily--are not that bad. The female lead, to the shock of no one, is my main beef, really. To go from one of the strongest female leads there is to this shrieking mess is just too much. Elsa was clearly one of the aspects of Last Crusade that made it so strong. So maybe it's a gender thing? Guys just don't care as much if the plot is inherently sexist. The second point of my why-one-and-three-are-superior theory is that Indy needs a worthy adversary, and Nazis are pretty great as adversaries go.

I tried to rewatch ToD a couple years ago, and I couldn't get past the first scene. But you know what? I'm open minded. I'm not afraid to have a long-held belief challenged. To that end, I will attempt to rewatch ToD yet again. I wonder if it will traumatize my 10-year-old or if I should wait until after he's in bed...

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