Welcome back Indy...now please go away again.
, 21 May 2008
The fourth installment in the Indiana Jones series was never going to be able to stand up to expectations or anticipation. After all the original trilogy are much loved treasures, where even the weakest film (Temple of Doom) is immensely rewatchable and exciting. Since this fourth entry was announced there has been plenty of rants and issues bandied around online, from the ditching of Frank Darabont's perfect (according to Spielberg and Ford) script when Lucas decided he didn't like it, to the casting of Shia La Bouf in the role of Mutt, to the chosen title for the film. Everybody has been waiting for the film to arrive, sharpening their knives ready to carve it up and spit out the remains.
The good news is that it isn't as bad as it could have been. The bad news is that it fails to match even Temple Of Doom in tone, feel, excitment, or story. This Indiana Jones film is simply just another summertime event movie, lacking in the magic that made the first three so memorable. Simply put, this is not really an Indiana Jones film.
The problems are many. The story is lacking any bite, being more an excuse to string together a spectacular array of action sequences in the hope of offering cheap thrills. The cast are alright, but nothing to write home about. Cate Blanchett struggles with an accent that slips through all of Eastern Europe, then through Western Europe for good measure. The continuity editor seemed to have taken a vacation at many points through the film, with shirts changing colour, jeeps growing their windscreens back, and people changing positions constantly during chase scenes. Add to all this some lazy directing by Spielberg, who seems to be off his game, and an overuse of CGI throughout. The early part of the film loves to put nodding references to the earlier films, but they begin to feel forced and stale pretty quick.
With regards to the direction, Spielberg just doesn't seem to be bothered with the film. Perhaps after Lucas put the block on the first script and cobbled his own story together, Spielberg simply chose to just accept Lucas' ideas and go with it in fear of never making the film. This may explain why he is in Jurrassic Park 2 mode here, delivering a reasonable thrill-ride, but one which lacks that sparkle.
Rest assured that the film is a far cry better than the sub-Indy throne stealers of recent years, such as National Treasure or The Mummy, but it doesn't come anywhere close to matching the fun and thrills, and indeed heart, of the other three films. Perhaps this is more indictive of the state of the film industry these days, where a film must deliver action sequences every 10 minutes in fear of losing the audience (Raiders, for example, is decidedly sparse on action, focussing a lot more on the adventure).
Whatever the reasons for the film's uninspired result, it is nice to see Indy back again. Now, hopefully, he will go away again and we can let him rest.
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