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. yodas_waiter Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2006
    star 3
    Overall, I greatly enjoyed the movie. I could forgive many of the more fantastic because they were so darn entertaining, such as the fridge scene, the vine swinging scene, the waterfalls etc.

    However, there were a few things that took me right out of the movie. One was the poor marksmanship of the Soviet, which was particularly blatant in the Area 51 scene. I know, "character shield" yadda yadda but that kind of stuff always makes me roll my eyes and detracts from the excitement of the scene.

    Whilst I have no problem with the alien aspect, I would've preferred it if the skulls weren't so outlandish and instead more human-like (resembling closer the Nazca mumies we see), making that whole aspect more ambigious. I think showing a live (frowning) alien and a flying saucer took away a lot of the mystery. It makes it hard to buy the whole "inter-dimensional being" explanation.

    That's really it. Otherwise, everything was pretty much top. [face_peace]
  2. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    I think the execution is totally fitting with the tone set in the series. There have been a lot of really cutesy moments in every single movie, starting with the girl in Indy's classroom with "I Love You" in her eyelids, Short Round driving Indy around in TOD, Indy accidentally getting Hitler's autograph, etc. In the context of what the series has shown before, I don't think there's anything unusual or out of place regarding the Tarzan sequence - and in fact, I loved that they went all out to make it as memorable as possible. It's a matter of taste, I suppose, but I think they totally aced it and made it the most lovable and adorable Tarzan homage that could be imagined. I love it! [face_love]

    Wasn't their marksmanship just about as good as the Nazis' in the earlier movies? [face_thinking]
  3. yodas_waiter Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2006
    star 3
    Never claimed otherwise. Nazi marksmanship and stormtrooper marksmanship are also pet peeves of mine. However, I think KotCS had the worst example of this with the Soviets failing to hit Indy from six feet as he slowly climbs up some crates in Area 51
  4. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    Well, the old "bad guys with bad marksmanship except when the script calls for it" thing is probably almost as old as the movies. I'm not sure if it was any worse with these Soviet guys than it was with the Nazis because I stopped thinking about it a long time ago. Of course there's also the plot element that the Soviets really didn't want Indy hurt or killed, because they were hoping he'd be the one who could help them figure out where Akator was, which they weren't able to do on their own. That's even the reason they "allowed" Marion to mail the letter to Mutt, wasn't it?

    But on another level, to have a particularly striking example of the "bad marksmanship" routine (or maybe it qualifies as a cliché?) might just be a way to comment on the nature of the adventure movie in itself. In a somewhat subtle way, of course. ;)
  5. yodas_waiter Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2006
    star 3
    Oh, definitely. But then again, there are some movies that handle this better than others.

    Yeah but that wasn't until after the Area 51 incideny. Spalko even comments on how lucky it was for the Soviets that they failed to kill Indy.

    Nah, that's stretching it a bit, IMO. An Indiana Jones movie doesn't need that kind of comment. I think that particular scene was just poorly executed. Hey, it happens even to the best.
  6. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    I don't think it was poorly executed at all, just personally it doesn't seem like a big deal in an Indiana Jones movie. I mean, to me at least it really didn't seem all that different from stuff in other Indy movies. I mean, the Nazis at one point have both Indy and his dad prisoners in a room, they're aiming machine guns at them from less than 4-5 feet, and the Jones boys get away? Equally fantastic stuff, I think.
  7. HanSolo29 Manager Emeritus + Official Star Wars Artist

    Member Since:
    Apr 13, 2001
    star 6
    I agree that KotCS had a lighter tone more in line with LC, and while sequences like Indy getting Hitler's autograph or the "ticket" scene may have fit in nicely with the latter, the Tarzan sequence just didn't fall into the same category. It was cutesy, yes, but it was also near impossible and it looked silly. As Vort already pointed out, it would have been impossible for Mutt to pick up the vine swinging that easily without prior practice. And it was the way it was shown on the screen - a CGI Mutt double swinging through the vines with a horde of CGI monkeys. At least in LC, Hitler and Indy weren't puppets.
  8. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    I guess it's just a matter of taste. Certainly conceptually it doesn't seem to me too different from some of the things that have been done before in the Indy movies, and not just Last Crusade. As to the actual execution, I think it reflects at least partly the availability of new special effects technology that simply wasn't available in the 80's. And it's been pointed out why the production company was simply forced to use CGI critters. Ironically, I would have only complained that the sequence was too short the way it was. But that's OK, because I always get a big kick out of that little sequence.

    But at any rate, it's OK, I know we both loved the movie, so we can just agree to disagree on that one point :)
  9. Jaina_and_Jag Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 19, 2003
    star 5
    I think that having CGI only hinders the movie. True, we're advancing in our use of technology, but that doesn't mean that we need to put CGI everywhere because we can. Years ago, if a scene couldn't be done for whatever reason then it was cut, to turned into CGI. CGI just looks out of place in an Indiana Jones movie IMO. And I could accept some of it (like the nuclear part) but the monkies and aliens was just too much.
  10. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    I don't think CGI is the problem. If Spielberg was determined to have those things in the movie, it wouldn't have been impossible to do it with some other type of special effect, although perhaps it would have been more complicated or more expensive (not sure if it would have or not). I mean, I think Spielberg said at some point that if CGI wouldn't have been available for Jurassic Park, they'd have gone with stop-motion animation or something.

    I'm not inherently anti-CGI because it has been used for a lot of things not normally associated with "special effects". They certainly were able to make some beautiful use of it in the HBO "John Adams" mini-series, for example. So I think it comes down to the tone a filmmaker is trying to make - they can certainly not use CGI but might still want to accomplish a certain scene the old-fashioned way.

    I totally respect your point of view regarding those sequences, but to me personally it wouldn't make sense that Spielberg would make a return to the old-fashioned entertainment that he first became known for, and not try to put the latest technology to use, whether in a large or small way. The only thing in which he's unapologetically old-fashioned comes to shooting with film, not digital cameras.
  11. Jango10 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 22, 2002
    star 5
  12. Gobi-1 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2002
    star 5
    Just to keep things civil around here since there are now two threads specifically created to praise or criticize Indy 4 and you fall on the opposite side of the opinion of that specific thread it would probably be best to avoid it. Yes this is a discussion board and we can discuss the pros and cons of a film till the cows come home but show some courtesy and let the lovers and the haters have their very own threads where they won't have to worry about being constantly targeted by other users looking for an argument. We already have a general discussion thread where you can discuss all your thoughts about the film.

  13. lovelucas Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2004
    star 4
    I'm not, even in the broadest definition, a basher.
    but.

    so much went wrong here. Don't know who to blame, but most of the film did not even come close to what came before, and even if a there wasn't a 1,2,3 yardstick to measure it by, it's still not even remotely a good film. and I feel really, really bad about that - due to: I love George, I love Steven, I love John Williams, I love Indy, Harrison will always have a special place, likewise Karen but much further down the totem pole (terrible waste, goofy as hell and was relegated to a plot device only) Shia is growing on me, great bike race on campus, wonderful recapturing of the 50's but geez - if you're going to tackle the red scare of McCarthyism wouldn't you think George should know better since the original Uncle Owen, Phil Brown, was blacklisted and paid a huge, huge price? - why put that in as a throwaway story?

    I could go on..
    but I won't ...
    there's nothing more to be said - it's the worst production from our tandem golden boys.

    NO to an Indy 5.
  14. Captain_Typho Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2003
    star 5
    You know, the more I think about it, the strongest critique I have for Indy 4 is a musical selection choice.

    Near the end of the film, as Indy and co are sitting on the ledge watching the spacecraft, and then Indy begins his spiel on how knowledge was the treasure, the grail theme from Last Crusade is played. I felt this was completely out of place and context and discredited it as a theme altogether. To me, Last Crusade was more than just a search for the holy grail, it was about Indy finding the faith to believe. To me, it seemed rather blasphemous to take a theme that was used to represent the Grail, and in turn Jesus, and apply it to a situation involving aliens from outer space. Not only was it inappropriate, but unneccesary, and I am appalled that the filmmakers decided it would be a good idea to use that music there.
  15. Kazanova Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2008
    star 1
    Aliens and the supernatural go hand in hand for me. I know this is a criticism thread, I'm just sayin'. Indy is a guy who's always coming in contact with the mysterious. Those two themes encompass that very well.
  16. solojones Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    Typho, I was shocked at how disappointing the music was. I was completely expecting catchy, meaningful, moving new themes and just don't know what happened to JW. Maybe it's the age. The homages to past themes were nice, but the lack of prominent new themes was very bad for the film. Music contributes *so* much to the overall 'feel' of the other films. When I think of each of the Indy films in my head, I think of the music that goes along so prominently with them. This was just really, really surprising that JW fell quite short on this one. On the one hand, it shows you how much music can make a difference. But in a bad way :(

    -sj loves kevin spacey
  17. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    I had a sort of similar reaction based on my first viewing of Indy 4, it was one of the few things that had somewhat surprised me. After 3 additional viewings, I think there are a lot of reasons why the kind of very symphonic score that worked so well for movies set in the 30's might not have been so ideally suited for a movie that features the same characters but is set in the 50's. Plus I also realized that with Marion coming back and a few references to Henry Jones, Sr., the score would probably have to include a few references to the themes from the older movies. The repeat viewings have definitely helped to ease my mind about my initial reaction to the soundtrack, I think JW did a good job with the new themes for Mutt and Irina, but a Korngold-style score, as much as we enjoyed them in the original Indy movies, might have sounded wrong this time around.

    What I would really like to see (if such thing exists) is a montage of Indy 4 footage with the score from the earlier movies (if anyone knows of any such clips on YouTube or anywhere, please let me know). Until I hear/see such a montage, I remain a fence-sitter on this one, but slightly leaning towards thinking a new style was called for if the series had moved forward by about 20 years.
  18. Insidious_One Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 12, 2007
    Initially when I saw Indy 4, especially for the first half of the movie, I really had to wonder how this really fitted in with the other films. While I am a huge science fiction fan, it all just seemed a little too much and a little too unreal...

    Suspension of reality is a pre-requisite for viewing an Indiana Jones film, but still..

    However as many in this thread have indicated, it really is the same formula, with 20 years or so added on and when I saw the film for the second time, since I already knew the plot, noticed how on almost every level that it really did fit in with the other films and subsequently I really enjoyed it.

    Ultimately the only real difference I see is the use of aliens as the McGuffin and personally I'm glad they tried something different, rather another religious artifact. If they did, I suspect people would have complained it was more of the same.

    The score is very different and initially I felt as though something was terribly missing from it. However when you look at the film, I can't see any other way it could have been done. Truly alien objects really don't suit having a highly symphonic score.

    The fact I was humming the skull theme on and off for a couple of days after buying the soundtrack says it can't be that badly done ;-)
  19. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    Insidious One, I think we've both arrived at the same conclusion in different ways. I guess that from the moment that you hear Elvis Presley right at the start of the movie, you have to know that it has to be a bit different, musically, both for stylistic reasons as well as for the fact that a different kind of music might better fit in with the 50's theme. There's no denying that there was a very noticeable shift in musical styles by the 50's, and that it really reflected the post-war spirit, which is another of the things the movie tries to convey.

    Of course, there's also the fact that the older scores have had anywhere between 19 and 28 years to grow on us. ;)
  20. HanSolo29 Manager Emeritus + Official Star Wars Artist

    Member Since:
    Apr 13, 2001
    star 6
    Now that you say it like that, I'm gonna have to agree with you. And just to add onto what you said, it appeared that they were trying too hard to mirror the scene at the end of LC. You had the Grail theme playing, Indy explaining the object at length and even the "Junior" reference between Mutt and Indy. I did, however, like the rendition of the theme at his desk while they focus in on Henry's photograph. That was a nice touch but the situation at the end seemed to be trying a bit too hard.

    As for the score overall, it did appear lacking even after my first listen to the soundtrack before I even saw the film. I thought there would be more prominent themes and those moments that just give you chills, which are frequent in any John Williams score. This one, sadly, had none of that and I was a bit disappointed. The score does get better over time. I know I'm actually really liking the skull theme after listening to the soundtrack over and over. It's one of my favorite themes on the album.
  21. Go-Mer-Tonic Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 1999
    star 6
    I don't know, none of these things were a problem for me. I just saw it again on Saturday and it was as fun as the previous 6 times I saw it.
  22. Princess_Tina Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 6
    I tend to feel the same way. And I actually really really liked that they made an obvious reference to Last Crusade at the end of KOTCS, its one of the best things in the movie because it kinda brings Indy's character full-circle, which is what a lot of people who first saw the Indiana movies as teenagers in the 80's are also going through, IRL: we were teenagers then, and a lot of us have kids now -- and some of these kids are teenagers themselves. So it's really just a brilliant way to comment on something very real that many people have already gone through, and others will eventually.
  23. Gobi-1 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2002
    star 5
    On my first viewing I was slightly disappointed with the score but after listening to the soundtrack and seeing the film three more times I've grown to appreciate it more. While a lot of the score is what I would call "mood music" that sets a scene but doesn't really have a theme per say, there were three major themes that are terrific.

    Call of the Crystal
    Irina's Theme
    The Adventures of Mutt


    I also love the Peruvian cue after the travel montage. It's "Journey To Akator" on the soundtrack.
  24. Jango10 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 22, 2002
    star 5
    I'm indifferent about the music. I did notice the old Indy music being used, and I never really did notice new music that jumped out at me, but it really didn't matter. I was seeing Indiana Jones in a theater!
  25. GrandAdmiral_Frank Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 2003
    star 4
    Honestly the only thing I didn't care for was the Tarzan scene.
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