Critiquing of the Crystal Skull - What Went Wrong?

Discussion in 'Lucasfilm Ltd. In-Depth Discussion' started by Jango10, Jun 17, 2008.

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  1. Jango10 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 22, 2002
    star 5
    Note: This thread is for in depth discussion of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, particularly about the film's flaws. For a more lighter discussion thread please go here.

    I don't think any more introduction is needed. Go.

    For a critiquing of the film's strengths, go here.
  2. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    It's not something that went wrong, per se, but we sure had to wait a long time for Indy 4 to actually get made. Just wish they could have got it made sooner, for one thing. :)
  3. Jango10 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 22, 2002
    star 5
    For me, I would say the absolute biggest flaw of the film, would be the plot. Count me in the group that believes that aliens do not belong in an Indiana Jones film, and that the ending was way too out there, even for Indiana Jones. The Indiana Jones films have always been about the supernatural, not the extraterrestial. I could have bought the film a whole lot better had the alien (and the spaceship) itself had not been seen. (Don't even get me started on the inter-dimensional beings crap.)
  4. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    I think the plot isn't really a problem at all. The McGuffin is just an excuse to get the action going, and this being the late 50's, the Soviets were probably the obvious choice to have for the enemies. The ending is actually a great conclusion to the Indiana Jones saga (assuming there were no more movies) because we've seen Indy grow from a small boy (at least if you watched the TV series) to his late years where he's more or less ready for retirement, and to his surprise finds out that he has a son with the one true love of his life, Marion. That is truly a terrific way to end the movie, if no more movies were made, it sure would have gone out on a very high note. And the beings in the movie aren't really extraterrestrials, they are from the "space between spaces" or some such thing. Which actually fits in very nicely with the homage to the B-movies of the late 50's.

    I really don't think the film could have been complete without showing us the interdimensional being and the device they used for "inter-dimensional" travel, that kind of revelation almost always was the high point of many sci-fi movies of the era, so it makes perfect sense.
  5. NZPoe Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 21, 2001
    star 4
    I think Princess_Tina is confused about what thread she's in, Jango. There is a thread already made, by Jango, which befits your comments better.

    And before you jump down my throat about how "all discussion should represent all sides of the argument" etc etc etc, you will take notice that this is a WHAT WENT WRONG thread and you haven't posted anything about "what went wrong", only that you've come in here to rebutt. Please respect the OP of this thread.

    For me, I think the biggest weakness was the second-half of the script and the fact that the Communists were not as threatening or scary as the Nazis were in the previous films.
  6. HanSolo29 Manager Emeritus + Official Star Wars Artist

    Member Since:
    Apr 13, 2001
    star 6
    Before I go on, I want to say that I'm in the camp that loved the film. But of course, all things are not perfect. After walking out of the midnight show on opening night, I didn't know what to truly think of the film. I was torn whether I actually liked it or if it will ultimately follow the path of the Prequels. The major reason for this was the whole alien angle revealed at the end. I didn't think it fit into an Indiana Jones film and I was expecting something more along the lines of the supernatural from the previous films. Things were too literal and even Spalko's death was cheapened by that. It wasn't until I saw the film two more times that I finally came to accept that plot point. It still gets me a little uneasy, but I can live with it and I can accept it as part of the story now. I'm not trying to make excuses for it, but it is definitely a major hurtle to overcome in terms of fully enjoying the film.
  7. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    You came into the discussion a little bit late, if I remember correctly, and so I've already mentioned a few of the things that didn't seem quite right at least on the very first viewing of Indy 4. However on later viewings, those small things that I had noticed the first time didn't seem quite such serious problems.

    The second half of the script, in my humble opinion, isn't a major flaw in the film. It actually does add an extra layer to the movie, that goes beyond the ordinary action-adventure stuff. So I'd be of the opinion that it would have gone majorly wrong if it hadn't done what it did. As for the communists, well, they seem to me to be very much like Nazis. I really was scared that Irina would do something mean to one of the good guys, especially Mutt or Marion.

    You know that scene where Irina and Marion are in the same car during the jungle chase? That scene has me on the edge of my seat every single time.


    I know this comes up frequently, and it really surprises me, so I'd like to ask you - how much did you know generally about the story before watching the movie? For some reason, I just assume that many people would have guessed, in the absence of any spoiler information, that if the movie was set in the 50's, it would take quite a bit of inspiration from the B-movies and sci-fi movies of the 50's. To me, it just seems like a natural progression from what Lucas and Spielberg were trying to do with the earlier movies, which were mostly homage to the serials of the 30's.
  8. HanSolo29 Manager Emeritus + Official Star Wars Artist

    Member Since:
    Apr 13, 2001
    star 6
    I knew a fair amount. Although, the thing I was left in the dark about was the ending. There were some things I wanted to keep a surprise and unfortunately, it wasn't exactly the kind of surprise I was expecting. I know way before the film was released when the rumors of the saucer and an actual alien first appeared, I laughed at how absurd that sounded, but here we are. I completely understand the whole sci-fi/50s connection and what Lucas and Spielberg were trying to achieve, but it doesn't change the fact that this felt disconnected from the rest somehow. Don't get me wrong, it does improve on repeat viewings and as I said, I have come to accept it, but it does take a lot to swallow.
  9. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    I generally steered clear of all spoilers, but I did know that some of the movie took place in Area 51, and of course I immediately made the connection with the supposed UFO crashed landings, alien technology, crystal skulls, and from that it seemed perfectly natural that they'd pay homage to the sci-fi/50's stuff, and maybe even a nod to the cold war and anticommunist paranoia.

    So the part with the aliens or interdimensional beings, just didn't seem unexpected, rather the revelation was something that to fit in nicely with the kind of larger-than-life phenomena that have been explored in other Indy movies. Well, out of the ordinary life, maybe is a better phrase.

    The real surprise to me, really, was the wedding scene, because I don't know why it just makes me start crying (for real!). And of course the moment when Indy snatched his hat from Mutt was sheer delight, a most wonderful surprise. It's one of those moments that comes along very rarely for me in the movies (for me the other ending that really totally had me swooning was BTTF3)

    I think there was a joke somewhere in the novel that Indy has to put on bifocals to be able to read the small print in one of the maps or some document... I'm not sure if I'd have liked to watch that in the movie, if they ever filmed it to begin with. Let's just say that if such a scene was filmed, I'd be very happy to see it as a bonus feature on the DVD! :cool:
  10. Go-Mer-Tonic Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 1999
    star 6
    Nothing. At least not for me.
  11. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    =D=
  12. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    I find that the unrealistic aspects of the jungle chase -- the monkey king scene and the tree-driving shots in particular -- take me out of the movie and cause me to roll my eyes at the level of ludicrosity involved. But these are brief, and of a piece with similar moments of implausibility in the other sequels, so I forgive them and move on.
  13. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    That's kind of how I felt since the first time I watched KotCS - some of the moments were right up there with stuff in TOD and Last Crusade, whether you call them silly, outrageous or amazing. That's why watching this latest installment truly brought me back to the "good ol' days"... ;)
  14. kingthlayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2003
    star 4
    The film went too far when it came to Indy defying death. After he survived being slammed around in a fridge at a thousand miles per hour, I never felt that he was in danger again. And the waterfall gag just felt stupid, especially given how many times random villains fell to their deaths in the movies.

    The monkeys bit was extremely corny.

    Ray Winstone's character was kind of pointless.

    The deaths weren't all that cool either. I would've preferred if all of the baddies got abducted, and didn't go gently. I also didn't like seeing the alien at the end, but I did like the spaceship.

    I seriously liked the movie though, but the above are reasons why it is tied for second place instead of comfortably in second.
  15. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    I do want to point out that, although I too found Mac to be "pointless" the first time I saw the movie, it later occurred to me that he represents exactly what Indy is not: a greedy tomb-raider out for fortune and glory. Mac makes a compelling counterpoint to Indy's essential goodness and heroism, and underscores the idea that these movies are about doing the right thing even more than they are about nifty archeological hunts and supernatural artifacts.
  16. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    But Indy has been through some remarkable death-defying stuff before. I mean, seriously, getting shot at with automated machines at the Club Obi-Wan, leaping out of the window, crashing down all of that stuff, and that's just before he and the others jump off the plane that's about to crash. And it goes without saying that in typical Hollywood-style fantasy, the good guys oftentimes seem unbeatable and the bad guys get wiped out. I mean, that's why all of the Stormtroopers could never seem to hit Luke, Han and Leia, and yet the heroes were always killing just about every Stormie in sight.

    I didn't think they were any cornier than the Nazi-sympathizing monkey in Raiders, personally.

    Didn't find him pointless at all. Every single Indy movie has a character who seems predestined to shift allegiances, or to act out of seemingly misplaced allegiance; certainly to me the movie wouldn't have been as much fun without him.

    The way the main Russian guy seriously gave me chills. And Irina's death is perfectly fitting with her lifelong obsession - Indy did warn her that she might get exactly what she wished for. ;)
  17. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    That's also a good point.

    Also, if Lucas ever decides to explore Indiana's WW2 adventures further (either in novels, comic books or other media), they can always cast a younger Mac to be his WW2 sidekick. It would be nice to see them together again, in an earlier era.
  18. GhostbusterGuy Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2007
    This is it for me. Although I wish I were able to forgive and move on. I've seen it twice, with different people, and they ALL had the same reaction. Two of em were big Indy fans like me too.

    When you're asked to suspend disbelief so the character can survive, that's one thing. (Which is why I barely let the fridge scene pass) However when you're asked to believe a character can do unbelievable things for no reason, it's hard to digest. I mean honestly, why did Mutt have to swing on the vines and have monkey friends?? It's nothing more than a (imo) stupid tarzan reference. One possible alternative: Mutt could've found a commie who crashed a motorcylce in the jungle and used that to catch back up with Spalko. At least there you're putting to use previously established skills, instead of granting new ones conveniently on the spot.

    And yes, the other movies had unrealistic stuff, but this time its a whole lot more pronounced and it builds up. (Caps show what I consider unrealistic stuff)

    Example 1:
    Indy survives a NUCLEAR BOMB blast!
    Indy survives a NUCLEAR BOMB blast in a FRIDGE that is LAUNCHED MILES from the blast zone!
    Indy immediately WALKS OUT OF THE FRIDGE after being LAUNCHED and ROLLED!

    Example 2:
    Mutt swordfights Spalko on top of SPEEDING jeeps!
    Mutt swordfights BETWEEN SPEEDING jeeps, keeping a PERFECT balance and DEFENSE!
    Mutt swordfights BETWEEN SPEEDING jeeps, keeping a PERFECT balance and DEFENSE, while being HIT IN THE GROIN!

    Example 3:
    Mutt watches CGI monkeys swing in a CGI jungle and SUDDENLY LEARNS HOW TO SWING through a CGI jungle!
    Mutt SWINGS THROUGH A CGI JUNGLE with CGI monkeys who become his FRIEND, and CATCHES a SPEEDING car!
    Mutt SWINGS INTO THE CAR, along with his CGI monkey FRIENDS who ATTACK the commies!
    (CGI is caps not just b/c of acronym- it was bad, unrealistic fx)

    Example 4:
    Marion drives a car over the edge of a cliff and ONTO THE BRANCHES OF A CGI TREE!
    The CGI tree GENTLY LOWERS the car INTO THE WATER allowing Marion to DRIVE OFF THE TREE exactly as MARION HAS PLANNED ALL ALONG!
    The CGI tree branches LAUNCH BACKWARDS and INTO THE COMMIES!

    Okay but that was one real monkey who did two things
    1) salute nazis
    2) yell and scream on top of marion's basket
    how hard is it to believe that's possible, especially when you see it actually happen in the movie? in kotcs you had several fake, cgi monkeys instantly befriend mutt, follow/show the way to Spalko, and then attack without any provocation or order from mutt. There is a world of difference between the two cases.

  19. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    First of all, I don't know that anyone actually comes out before the movie begins and literally asks you to suspend disbelief. To me it's more of a tacit agreement between filmmakers and moviegoers.

    Some of the criticisms that have been made about Indy 4 apply even more appropriately to many other summer movies that we've seen in recent years, and in those movies, it really was enough to totally ruin the movie. I don't believe the case applies to Indy 4, nor do I know anyone IRL who felt that way. Most people I know enjoyed the movie just fine, and for that matter so did many highly respected film reviewers who aren't usually very generous with a lot of the mainstream commercial movies being made in America today.

    Monkeys? Love them. Waterfalls? Hey, this may be one of the very few times in my life when I've actually watched something in a summer movie and actually kinda wish they would build a theme park attraction based on what we were watching.

    There are a lot of things in all of the Indy movies that are kind of like that, too. And the fact remains, for the most part it doesn't seem all that much more far-fetched than the stuff in the old serials of the 30's and some of the sci-fi movies of the '50 - the only difference being one of technological advances and a bigger budget.

  20. Jango10 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 22, 2002
    star 5
    Tina, you do realize this is the "What Went Wrong?" thread, don't you?
  21. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
  22. Jaina_and_Jag Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 19, 2003
    star 5
    I agree that the monkey bit was just a little too much for me. When Mutt started swinging my mouth gaped in shock. It just looked completely absurd. They could have found a better way to get Mutt back into the action and get rids of the Commies in the car. The monkey bit was just completely unrealistic to me.


    And I didn't much care for the "interdimensional beings" either. The McGuffin was fine, but when we saw them it just wasn't as cool as it could've been. What my imagination would've conjured would've contented me, I didn't need to actually see them.

    And Tina, I had no forewarnings whatsoever about this film. I read no spoilers and even steered clear of articles that talked about it. The only information I had going in to watch the film was the title, the actors, the director, and the date it came out. So I would say no, I wasn't expecting to see an alien. I would say that I was expecting to see another Indiana Jones film 19 years after the last one. I had no idea what to expect, but the alien bit didn't meet my non-existent expectations.



    (And for the record I loved the movie.)
  23. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    Well I think we all have some expectations coming into a movie, especially one many of us have been waiting for 19 years. For me the greatest thing about the Indy movies right from the beginning is that they obviously showed such a deep appreciation and fond memories of the old-school movies and serials, because I love those, too. It's not just the movies & serials themselves - it's the application of a new medium to certain fantasy/adventure kinds of storytelling that before the movies could only be explored in the comics and the radio.

    With that in mind, and the fact that the movie was obviously going to deal with crystal skulls, I don't think I doubted for a minute that it would have something to do with beings not of this world, or some such thing. The only thing left for me to ponder about was how it would be handled in the movie.

    The Tarzan homage is fundamentally that -- simply paying homage to yet another one of those old movie series that many kids growing up in the late 30's/early 40's might have been fans of. Of course it would have been even better if they'd found a way to stick it to the old movies, which were the ones set in the 30's, but the character has remained popular thoughout the years so it's never totally out of place, in my opinion.

    I guess all I'm trying to say is, it's kind of ironic to me to see that some people see as a flaw the mere fact that Lucas and Spielberg pay homage to the kinds of movies that inspired them to become filmmakers themselves, to make movies like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, should somehow be seen as a hinderance to enjoying these homages. In other words, they make these sort of movies mostly to pay tribute to the product of the Golden Age of Hollywood, and to think that there would be a point to the movies if it weren't paying tribute to those cinema classics seems a total paradox.
  24. HanSolo29 Manager Emeritus + Official Star Wars Artist

    Member Since:
    Apr 13, 2001
    star 6
    I don't think anyone has a problem with Lucas and Spielberg paying homage to Tarzan, the old school B-movies, the 50's or whatever else you want to place in that blank. It was the way it was executed. Take the monkey scene with Mutt, for example. It would've been fine just to have a random Tarzan moment in there with Mutt swinging one or two vines through the trees(Indy did something similar at the beginning of Raiders). But as soon as the horde of monkeys started following him and he just kept on going in this dramatic way, I wanted to crawl under the seat. It looked bad. Again, it has absolutely nothing to do with the idea itself, it was the way they went around it.
  25. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    A Tarzan homage might be fine, except that it's totally unrealistic and out of place the way it's done in this movie. People aren't born with the skill to swing from vines; it takes practice and the development of certain muscle groups if one wishes to avoid injury. Tarzan himself, even in the somewhat-less-than-100%-plausible films of the 30s - 50s, could only do so because he spent a lifetime learning how from his primate friends and family. Thus, to have Mutt, who as far as we know has never engaged in this particular activity, swinging from vine to vine with the greatest of ease, as though he had been born to it, is preposterous.

    Also:

    Other than that scene and the tree-driving, the film is aces with me.
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