Crack that whip!
It’s been a while since I’ve been to the movies and consequently, a while since I’ve written a movie review. Memorial Day weekend was a big group vacation for us (as you probably saw from the pictures) but it ended Sunday afternoon. This left me Sunday evening and Monday all to myself for some introvert recharging time. And recharge I did by hitting the movies. You probably know by now my penchant for trying to see 4 movies in one weekend. I didn’t come anywhere close but I did see two pretty good ones.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
People I’ve talked to have either loved this movie or been disappointed by it (kind of like me on a first date). The problem with Indy IV is the competition it has with Indy I-III. Those three movies have become iconic reminders of people’s childhoods that no one really remembers how good or bad they are, only that they loved it. Seriously, when did you last watch Temple of Doom? Anyway, I thought the movie was a great weekend, popcorn movie. You get to see Indiana Jones smile more, kick undead guardian butt and even get a glimpse of the Ark.
The story’s MacGufffin is the crystal skull. Indy wants it, rivals want it and even Communists want it. And the usual Jones-esque quest to retrieve the skull makes for great fun. As a subplot, the bad guys have kidnapped an old acquaintance of Indy’s, forcing her son to find Jones to translate a mystical book. And while this is a movie spoiler, no one in the world who has seen the trailer doesn’t figure out that Shia LaBeouf’s character turns out to be his unknown son. The family reunion dynamics are fun and well played though, for me, the reunification comes a little too easy. The big contention point for a lot of people is the X FIles ending. I was pretty fine with it. If you know Lucas’ intent, you know the first trilogy was meant to follow the old 30s-40s style adventure movies… lots of cliff hangers and frustrating the Nazis. Since 19 years have elapsed in real life and in the movie time line, it’s fairly difficult to have Indy be the same guy he was 20 years ago.
20 years later, your eyes a re a little blurry when you wake up, you say “oof” once or twice a day and you don’t get up as quickly after a communist hits you in the back. I’m just saying. So into the 50s Indy goes. There are some fun 50’s references, like Indy getting caught up in the Bomb testing out in the desert. But more to the point, the 50s adventure genre was filled with men from Mars, and aliens, communists and marching Army men. If you understand genre, you understand Lucas. All that being said, I’d give Indiana Jones a solid B.
Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
OK… who knew the Telmarines were from the same place Inigo Montoya was from? Certainly, I didn’t. That being said, I enjoyed this movie far more between these two. Whereas the first book was more a fairy tale, Caspian is much more the adventure movie in the Lord of the Rings vein. The battles are epic and the creatures interesting. What is it that makes dark and brooding more interesting to watch than happy and cheerful (Once again, it’s like me on a first date). Our four kinds and queens of the first book return to fight a wrong, this time though, the people they’re their to help aren’t so happy about it. It’s fun to see how the heroes have grown, as people and as actors.
Now… while I enjoyed the movie for what it was, what I really liked was the “plot overlay” I added. All the while, the young kings and queens expect to see Aslan… for him to appear and save the day. Instead, he remains hidden for most of the movie. Once, he appears to only one, and only directs without speaking. This fills the others with doubts and even leads one to say (roughly) to Aslan, it would be so much easier to believe in you if you were around. My plot overlay was that much of the movie was a metaphor for following an invisible god. I can’t wait until this comes out in DVD so I can watch it again to see if my metaphor plays out through the movie. Prince Caspian and crew win the weekend for me, earning them an A.