Indiana Jones And The Wrath Of The Fanboy Force

As I’m sure you well know, last summer the long awaited fourth installment of the incredibly popular Indiana Jones series, INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, was released to ginormous box office receipts and overall favorable reviews (it’s currently at 76% on the Tomatometer). In the U.S. alone it made over $300 million and is the 3rd biggest grossing film of 2008 after THE DARK KNIGHT and IRON MAN. Well, despite these numbers there were a lot of folk who didn’t “join the rest of the world in breathing a sigh of relief at the multiplex” as I wrote in my review of the film (May 21, 2008). An increasing amount of film bloggers and tons of message board shut-ins, especially as the movie just hit the DVD market, are voicing their displeasure and resurrecting the “they raped my childhood” complaint that was born out of the extreme negative reaction to the STAR WARS prequels.

The fanboy bitching went mainstream a few weeks back when South Park aired an episode that actually featured Indiana Jones getting raped by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg not just once but three times in scenes that borrowed heavily from A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, THE ACCUSED, and DELIVERANCE (of course).


Comedian/fanboy geek (probably best known as the voice of the rat in RATATOUILLE) Patton Oswalt recently went on Conan O’Brien and stated point blank that he thought the movie “sucked” and went on to bash its ending in particular. He elaborated on it in a stand-up performance at Blizzcon, Oct. 2008 in Anaheim, California:


“The last shot of ‘Raiders’, the very final shot of that movie, is that warehouse full of crates. And it was really dark and ominous. And it’s a really ballsy way to end your adventure movie. It’s a perfect film. ‘Raiders’ is perfect. And then the last shot of ‘Temple of Doom’, there’s elephants rearing up and a village is celebrating and he’s kissing the hot woman and you’re like ‘wow, what a cool action movie that was!’ And then the final shot of “Last Crusade” is Indiana Jones and James Bond (!), Sean Connery are on horses zipping away across the desert to God knows what adventures…oh, my goodness, that was great! And then the last shot of “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is a line of elderly people slowly walking out of a church! And they play the “Raiders” music over them like they’re making fun of them!”


Oswalt had previously done loads of material criticizing the STAR WARS prequels (“If I actually had a time machine I would go back to 1993 or ’94 and kill George Kucas with a shovel…stop him from making the prequels”) so this bit isn’t surprising and, I admit, a good point. For the record I hated the prequels, though I think “raped my childhood” is a bit strong, and understand completely the disappointment surrounding them. While having some familiar elements they didn’t feel to me like the movies I saw and loved so much in the theater as a kid – yes, I’m old enough to have seen STAR WARS before it was renamed “Episode IV: A New Hope” (and I refuse to refer it as such now). Being just the right age for them I equally loved the Indiana Jones movies – they were like an extension of the old timey serial movie inspired fun and saw each of the films more than I could possibly count.


I was extremely skeptical about them making another Indiana Jones film – the 3rd one (INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE -1989) wrapped it all up nicely into a tidy trilogy and it seemed unnecessary to go back again almost 20 years later to attempt to relive past glories. So I was surprised, and maybe a little embarrassed, to enjoy the fourth film so much. I still stand by what I wrote after seeing a midnight show last May that the film was: “an entry that is as good an Indiana Jones movie as could be made today”. Mind you, some folks have told me that that comes off as a backhanded compliment. I really meant it though – I feel given the changing times and the advanced age of the core participants that this was as good as they could produce. I honestly believe that no matter what they served up that fanboys would have problems with whatever element. Back in the day I remember many schoolyard grumblings about implausible plot points and action set pieces of the original films – don’t get me started on how Indy survived that submarine ride in RAIDERS…, etc. These days the message boards and blogs replace the playgrounds as we all age and get more cynical, nitpicking about annoying details while friends and family say repeatedly “it’s just a movie” just over our shoulders.


I’ve already been scoffed at for saying that I liked it better than the dark TEMPLE OF DOOM (the one I saw the least as a kid) but I seriously do think, especially after seeing it more than once, that KINGDOM OF CRYSTAL SKULL is a more even and much more entertaining action film. I didn’t mind the aliens aspect, though I agree with some film folks about it being too X-Files and that the special effects were at times overboard – one message board poster said it was “Indiana Jones and the CGI Jungle” and I cant really argue with that. I also had problems with the gopher at the beginning, the Shia LaBeouf swinging from vines with moneys like Tarzan scene, and the before-mentioned ending – like blue-velvet-ant wrote in the comments of my review: “Hes Indiana Jones. He doesnt do married.”


Still, the bottom line to me is that it felt like the Indiana Jones movies I saw at the theater as a kid – it had the same tone, pacing, and Harrison Ford’s crusty charisma carried me through just like before. I went along with the outlandish escapades and was even immensely amused by the much derided “nuking the fridge” sequence (see Urban Dictionary: Nuke The Fridge). I wish folks would cut out using the “raped my childhood” tack – it’s a dead horse beaten beyond recognition at this point and many people are offset and offended by the use of the word “rape” in what is supposed to be a humorous context. Though I’m not saying ban it completely – Patton Oswalt’s line “Hollywood, where dreams come to be raped” is too accurate and brutally funny to be dropped. When somebody makes that “raped my childhood” complaint, perhaps the best response would be this one, from a snarky message boarder: “Well, your childhood was dressed too sexy and all walking around acting slutty; it was asking for it!”


More later…

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