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. Grand_Moff_Jawa Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2001
    star 5
    [image=http://i168.photobucket.com/albums/u193/Grand_Moff_Jawa/2949760366_7327b170fb.jpg]
  2. Beirut Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 8, 2005
    The fridge scene was about as 80's as you could get. If it had been released back then, you can bet it would now be considered an iconic moment in the series.

    But it is fun to read through the complaints, and wonder how people miss the irony. For example:

    -"The finale was nothing but a big f/x scene, followed by a quick and convenient wrap-up for the heroes." (See: Raiders, Temple, Crusade)

    -"Marion had no reason to return." (Actually, she had slightly more reason than Sallah had in Crusade.)

    -"Spalko and Dovchenko had no depth." (As opposed to someone like Donovan...or the head Thuggee that didn't even have a name?)

    -"The last act was just one action sequence after the other." (Ummm....)

    -"If they couldn't have done the stunt without relying on special effects, then it shouldn't have been included in the film." (So basically, they should've just tossed out the entire mine cart sequence.)

    This is not to say that the film is without flaws, or that there aren't legitimate criticisms to be found. But a surprising number of this movie's complaints could just as easily be leveled at the previous three entries.
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  3. Grand_Moff_Jawa Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2001
    star 5

    Donovan was a more complex character than either Spalko or Dovchenko as Donovan appeared to be a good guy but then turned very bad, shooting Henry Sr.

    The head Thuggee was named Mola Ram.

    [image=http://johnlarroquetteproject.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2006/12/mola-ram.jpg]
  4. Beirut Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 8, 2005
    Donovan was still a very thin character, with little in the way of backstory. He would certainly not be regarded as "complex" by today's standards.

    I just don't see how we can consider Donovan a deep character, yet discount Spalko. Whereas Donovan was only motivated by his own greed, Spalko was torn between loyalty to an ideology (ie. "that was Stalin's dream") and her own obsession with power. Her interactions with Indy were also more layered- suggesting the kind of mutual respect we hadn't seen since Belloq.

    As for the head Thuggee...I was referring to Pat Roach's character. (The one that IMDB lists only as "Chief Guard".) Dovchenko was clearly a successor to that kind of "thug" villain, and was given no more or less characterization than the previous incarnations.

    But speaking of Mola Ram, he was an even thinner character than Donovan. He was given no backstory at all, and was essentially just a stock bad guy. He was considered a weak substitute for Belloq back in 1984- and that's a charge that has been leveled at him online for over a decade.
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  5. Grand_Moff_Jawa Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2001
    star 5
    Other than Indy, who do we really get much of a back story about? I think most all of the characters received the same amount of development, but some were more interesting than others. Spalko was potentially a good character, but she really didn't give me a sense of being evil. She tried to read Indy's mind, and failed. She did a lot of chasing of the good guys, but never caught them. I'm still not 100% sure of what her plan for the skull was. That's not a good sign.
  6. Beirut Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 8, 2005
    Well, that was pretty much the point I was making. People complained about the lack of character development in Indy 4...and yet the same criticism could easily be directed at the previous entries as well.


    Can you honestly say that Mola Ram's plan for the stones was any clearer? The Thuggees weren't equipped to deal with rifles, and yet somehow they were going to "topple the gods"?

    The same could be said of Hitler's plan for the Grail. Henry Sr. calling it a "race against evil" isn't quite the same as actually telling us what the actual threat is. The threat is further undermined by the finale, in which we discover that the Grail wasn't going to be much use to the Nazis anyway.

    So then there's the Ark. Here we at least get to see a picture of what it can do, which was more than enough for 1981 audiences. We also learn that Belloq thinks he can use it to call God. But aside from that, we're never given any clue how the Nazis plan to harness this power to help their side.

    Spalko actually provided the clearest plan of the three sequels. She told us what the Russians thought the skull could do (ie. grant psychic abilities), and what they planned to do with that power (ie. control American minds).

    True, it's similar to Crusade, in that the power doesn't end up working quite like the Russians believed. But Spalko's little speech in the tent is still a far more detailed plan than anything Mola Ram, Colonel Vogel, or Donovan ever offered the audience.
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  7. jedibri Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 2000
    star 4
    I'm stickin' with the stinkin' CGI monkey (kiddie) moment that Lusa feels must be in all his films. I mean honestly George, a kiddie moment in all your films?
  8. waheennay Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2000
    star 4
    I don't think it was the fridge, aliens or CG monkeys. I just think it was that no wants to see Indy and Marion old. We want to remember them as young and vital. KOTCS like the moment you realize your parents are now old and are going to die someday. It's depressing.
  9. Grand_Moff_Jawa Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2001
    star 5
    I didn't mind Indy's and Marion's ages. It was kind of neat to see them back again. The problem I had was the characters (Indy included) no longer resonated with me. What I mean is that I felt nothing about them. You could sense the tension between Indy and Marion back in the Raiders days. There was a back story there, obviously. In Skull, all they did was argue. Not the same thing. Chalk it up to bad writing, bad directing, whatever. I just felt very underwhelmed by the characters, action and plot. If there were no previous Indiana Jones movies, this movie wouldn't have been as well received as it was. It would be like another Romancing the Stone or something. Blah.
  10. waheennay Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2000
    star 4
    I actually think the movie would have done a lot better if there had been no previous Indy movies! People wouldn't make so many comparisons to the previous ones. Nobody would complain about aliens or too much CGI or any of that stuff.


    Indy and Marion didn't just argue in Crystal Skull but I do think she forgave him too fast. But it proves my point. they weren't like a young couple anymore they were like mom and dad.


    (Btw don't dis Romancing the Stone! There were a lot of ripoffs of Raiders after it came out but Stone managed to stand out on it's own. It was a hit and gave Robert Zemeckis the clout to make Back to the Future. )
  11. jedibri Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 2000
    star 4
    But, my thought is why does Lucas have to have a kiddie moment in his fims? Why? Getting a PG rating isn't that important. What is is story and action. The CGI monkey's should have never been in the film. There was no point to them at all.
  12. waheennay Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2000
    star 4
    By that argument there never should have been a monkey in Raiders!
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  13. Dark--Helmet Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2003
    star 2


    It's funny but all 4 of those franchises that you mentioned all started off on a gritty badass note and then sunk into poor quality movie making that destroyed those series.All of them went over the top with movies that where not made in the spirt of the originals.Batman Forever was a bad movie,it's not a Batman movie.That's why they can't make it today.Neon lights,TLJ's 2 Face acting like the Joker,the studio changed that movie alot,alot of the darkness was removed.The books and the first 2 Connery Bond movies didn't really have any gadgets and Tomthy Daulton was the first sexless killer Bond.It's good that Stallone realized that people where sick of his planet holly
  14. Beirut Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 8, 2005
    This is a very revisionist way of looking at it, but it's one that has become quite popular. It falls perfectly in line with the "gritty/realistic/badass" mentality that is so commonplace online. Most younger fans (not you personally, but in general) have no real sense of context, so they just apply our current standards to older films.

    But Ian Fleming did not write realistic spy stories- he wrote escapist fantasy. He frequently joked that none of his stories should be taken seriously, and when compared to his contemporaries (ie. John Le Carre; Len Deighton; Don Hamilton; etc.), you can see his point. He offered a more stylish and imaginative look at espionage, one which transported the average working man to places he would likely never get to experience otherwise. Casino Royale is about a man being hired to go to an exotic locale and gamble with someone else's money. As a bonus, he's provided with a hot female assistant that he gets to sleep with. Yet today people look at that book and say, "Wow, that was really down to earth!" We no longer see the fantasy aspects of it, because we've become so used to the ideas over the years.

    It's a similar case with those early Connery films. They weren't just popular action movies. They were a huge, worldwide phenomenon, because no one had ever seen anything like them before. Again, the key phrase was "stylish fantasy"- one which combined the (then risque) Playboy lifestyle with the escapism of an espionage thriller. People didn't walk out of the theater saying, "Wow, that was gritty and realistic!" Instead, they walked away thinking, "We hadn't seen that before!"

    Dr. No was tucked away in a lavish, elaborate lair. Bond fought No's mechanical dragon with a beautiful accomplice named Honey Ryder. The villains in From Russia With Love had IMF-style face masks, while MI6 had car phones. And while it looks mundane today, Bond's briefcase sparked the imagination of children everywhere. The only way they could have followed those movies is with entries like Goldfinger and Thunderball. Those two became even bigger hits because they delivered exactly what people wanted and expected of James Bond 007. They didn't perceive Connery as just another gritty tough guy, but as a unique hero who went on fantastic adventures. You couldn't hand the keys to the Aston Martin to John Wayne, or expect him to go and deal with SPECTRE.

    If Connery's Bond had truly been just another series of "badass" action films, the series would've never caught on and endured the way it did. Michael Caine's Harry Palmer films actually were intended as a gritty, down-to-earth spy series- and a direct alternative to Connery's films. Bond producer Harry Saltzman created it using much of the same creative team, but always stressed that Palmer was more of an "anti-Bond". The latter term was also used to describe Matt Helm- Don Hamilton's fictional assassin who starred in nearly 30 gritty novels. These are just two heroes that actually were the kind of spies people now interpret Connery's Bond as having been. And both of them have largely fallen into obscurity over the years.

    To a lesser extent, we can make the same argument about the early Batman films. Tim Burton's version was considered darker, but only in relation to the 1960s television show. However, it was far from gritty or realistic. I mean, Batman flew a jet shaped like the Bat symbol! Those films were praised for being heavy on style and imagination- not reality. It's for this reason that you couldn't even make the `89 Batman today. If someone did attempt the style (and a few actually have), it would instan
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  15. Merlin_Ambrosius69 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2008
    star 5
    Beirut, that was a terrific post. As a huge fan/follower of Batman and James Bond, I must applaud your insight into those characters and the films that made them popular. =D=
  16. Beirut Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 8, 2005
    Thanks Merlin. I'm also a huge fan of Batman and Bond, and find it disturbing the way their past is now heavily discounted online. Why should we have to diminish the past in order to enjoy the present? Even the current Bond producers have started to become a bit dismissive of the older films in their interviews. (But they certainly don't mind the money those "dated" Bond entries continue to bring in via dvd and blu-ray.)

    For decades, Goldfinger was considered one of the (if not the) definitive Bond films. This was true throughout the 70s, 80s, and even the 90s. Yet in the last few years, it's somehow been downgraded to an over-the-top insult to the Connery era: The film where James Bond got away from both the producers and the actor. :confused:

    No one bothers to ask, "Why was this so groundbreaking?" anymore- instead preferring the question, "Which of these older films can I view as a modern film?" Our current 'standards' will one day be subject to the same kind of changing tastes and whims, so I don't see why they should be granted such importance.
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  17. venepe Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 25, 2004
    star 1
    Since I am Peruvian, the movie totally misrepresented Peru. For some reason Mariachi-like Mexican music is heard, which is 100% inaccurate. I didn't expect 100% accuracy neither, but Andean music is well known in the cinema circles and it is easily recognizble for audiences as Latin American.

    That totally took me out of the movie, which I was enjoying up to that point.

    As to what went wrong within the plot, I think is the alien stuff. I think audiences relate Indy with religion, so that was a turn off. I'm talking about the general audience, not the avid fans that know all the Indy lore.
  18. darthcaedus1138 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2007
    star 5
    But weren't the aliens religious? The Mayans saw them as Gods. That's religion. It's kinda like the stones from Indy 2.

    Also, excellent post, Beirut. I totally agree with you, and it's exactly what went wrong with Indy 4. It's just in the wrong era. They made a great follow up movie to a series from the 80's, only in 2007(I think). These days, escapism just isn't enough. Every single detail has to be picked apart and criticized. If it doesn't stand up to what we think is good in this time, then it's not good.

    Personally, I enjoyed the film. It had a great continuation to the story, and had a lot of what makes Indy so great, but I can see some of the criticism.

    Nonetheless, it's a pretty good movie.
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  19. Dark--Helmet Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2003
    star 2
    To me the "it was made for a different era"sounds like the same overly elaborate excuses people come up with for people not liking the PT.It's never peoples honest reactions being the reason they don't like a movie it's always some none movie reason that people don't like GL's movies.People don't have a problem with escapism,look at how successful those types of movies have been.

    It has nothing to do with viewing movies with our current standards because with most franchises it's the earlier older movies that are considered better.Like I said earlier just about every franchise tails off whether it's going over the top,greed or just not caring that's what happens.So it shouldn't be a surprise that people don't like Crystal Skull,Raiders is considered the classic while Doom and Crusades quality are debated. Skull isn't better then Raiders so it fits in with the other debated movies.

  20. hansolorcks Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Sep 23, 2008
    The fourth movie was so boring why oh why did they make a awful movie? I think the original Indiana Jones films are the best because they have everything good storylines,good action sequences, cool moments and they are just so awesome
  21. Darth-Seldon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 6
    There have been some really serious and legitimate critiques made on Crystal Skull--
    but after recently watching it, I would like to add a smaller and more nit-picky detail:
    I really don't like having the Janitor from Scrubs in the film. He plays one of the FBI or CIA agents that is interrogating Indy. It's distracting. Did anyone else have a problem with this casting call?

  22. THX_1138biggs Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 9, 2007
    star 1
    I think most of you that didn't like the last Indy movie have too much of that videogame violence, internet, MTV, IPod influence mush in your brains and have big illusions that Indiana Jones is suppose to be some big shot, when in fact he's just a normal, quite intelligent, archaeologist guy trying to have some fun by discovering cool things, while bad guys try to beat him to it..

    AND THAT'S ALL IT?S ABOUT!

    People in the 80?s did not have their brains and minds all mushed up like this. They had more free space in their imaginations to enjoy these movies for what they gave to them and allowed them to have fun.

    The teenagers that like the movies in the 80?s are almost in their forties now, these are the people that are into the ?edgy? stuff. You'd think they'd understand INDY 4's tone is the SAME as the movies before it.
    And their kids are being taught not to like this new one because on premiere night, interviews with older fans and their kids would basically be them bashing INDY 4, and the kids following their parents opinions. Again, it's all this IPOD, MTV, REALITY SHOW, VIDEOGAME VIOLENCE stuff that's mushing their imaginations.

    Nevertheless, I doubt the edgy stuff will outlast such fun movies as ALL the Indiana Jones movies, including hopefully INDY 5 :)
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  23. Darth-Seldon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 6
    How about we explore the critique rather than distorting anyone's background or motivations. The point is that people can have legitimate problems with Indy IV and not be a product of what you're describing. To say that the MTV/ipod generation is incompatible with Indiana Jones is an insult to the films and the fans. My problem with the film was the lack of character development, the ending, the mcgruffin itself, and some of the over-the-top special effects.

    -Seldon
  24. d_arblay Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 26, 2005
    star 4
    mainly because the audience gets tired with a world or a character which they begin to take for granted, and never see with the same enthusiasm as when first released. thats a natural psychological condition of the viewer, but we should not use such perpectives when judging the quality of the films.

    art is all about the culture that surrounds it. As Bill Moyers has stated, if you had released Star Wars any earlier than the 70's or any later, it wouldnt have worked or become the success it did. its timing. the style of movies that both the PT and Crystal Skull make homage to are not fashionable now and to be fair, weren't fashionable in the late 70's and 80's. but the difference then was that they were so vastly different from anything else being released - they stood out. the problem with releasing the same types of films now, which refuse to compromise their original influences, is that you have many other types of movies which are a homage to a homage of a homage etc. etc. and everything gets dilluted. the reason indy doesn't really work with today's audiences is not because its a simple, escapist, adventure story - its that there are many other simple, escapist, adventure stories which are done to a style which is more universally accepted and acclaimed. we now rely on gritty characters and anti-heroes, we rely on realistic, off-the-cuff dialogue, because we are obsessed with what is fashionable now more than ever more - its a fashion led culture. what isnt deemed cool does not make money or gain credibility unless it is fresh. its why movies in the style of Indy 4 and the PT do not gain credibility. they are not fresh (they are sequels) and they are rooted in things out-of-fashion in very image-orienated times. the PT and Indy 4 share a lot in common - but being below-par movies is not one of them.

    Beirut, I agree with most of your points on this thread. Some very good posts which I've enjoyed reading.
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  25. Dark--Helmet Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2003
    star 2
    No,it's almost always because the movies degrade in quality.Look up all the movie franchises,it's very easy to see.Script,acting ect ect is why.

    The era stuff makes no sense.As time passes and we move into new era's the same movies are always seen as better.Rockys still better then it's sequals,Alien&Aliens are still better then 3,4,AvsP 1&2,Raiders is still better then other Indy sequels,Terminator 1&2 are better than 3&4,TheGodfather 1&2 are still better than Godfather 3 etc etc.


    We don't really rely on gritty characters,anti heroes and realistic dialog,pirates of the Caribbean,Ironman,Spiderman,LOTR,Harry Potter,Shriek and ROTS are all big hits.


    Indy 4 and the PT didn't really work because people didn't think they where made as good as other movies.SW is still vastly different then anything being released now and still sticks out.Flying in the face of all this is ROTS,a SW movie that got credibility and was seen as fresh and was rooted in something very fashionable,namely SW,which is always fashionable.It got great reviews and is taking it's place above the other prequels and it looks like ROTJ.Why,because people thought it was made better then the other movies.
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