Indiana Jones and the Really Awful Third Act

Nope, no comics review this week -- nothing really struck me at all this week at all, good or bad.

Instead I'm going to go back in time to a week or so ago when I saw INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL.

But let's start in the present day.

I had Ben this morning while Tzipora had a doctor's appointment, and I knew that they had a playdate planned for the afternoon, so I opted to not take him to the park, since then he'd be park-ed out at that point.

So, I thought, let's watch some movies. In fact, let's watch RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK -- he's been begging for Indy for weeks (which he was, for a lot of that, was calling "Hannah Jones", har!) I was a little tiny bit hesitant because of some of the violence (especially the face melting thing at the end), but he absolutely assured me that he wasn't going to be scared, so I thought, ah what the hell?

He LOVED it. Just freakin' adored it. So all good there.

Then he started begging for more.

"Well, only until your mom gets home, dude -- we WON'T be watching another FULL film"

I opt out of TEMPLE OF DOOM because, really, I think that heart-pulling scene is way too intense for him, so I go for LAST CRUSADE.

We get to the scene in the castle where they reveal the nazis are there, and Ben says to me, SECONDS before Indy's similar line, "Aw, man, Nazis! I HATE those guys!" ("Too true, Ben, too true..."

He was really digging what we watched of LAST CRUSADE (about 3/4s, I think), so I'm going to see if the library has the YOUNG INDY TV series (or whatever the thing was called), since I think he'll dig those too....

Anyway, like I said, he can wait a few years for TEMPLE, and I probably won't be taking him to see the CRYSTAL SKULL, mostly because I am not sure if I could sit through it again.

I saw it bout a week ago with Anina Bennett, at the Castro Theater. MAN is it nice to see a first run film in a gorgeous palace like the Castro -- which is almost ALWAYS a revival house. The place is lovely, and a real joy to see films in. Heck, Jeff Lester got married there, so you know it must be nice!

They've got a Wurlitzer theater organ, which is frickin' awesome-sauce, and the organist is playing his usual medly on 1930's biggest hits, and right before the show is to start, he kicks it over to the Indy theme. DOUBLE-awesome.

Anina tells me that one of the places INDY is showing in Portland is also at a revival theater. I wonder if this is a conscious plan by Lucasfilm (or whoever) to help Revival palaces? If so, give them props, that's a wonderful wonderful thing. There's nothing that beats seeing a period film in a period hall, really.

So, I was feeling the love going in, right? And the movie unfolds adequately -- Indy is feeling his age, but he's discernibly Indy. There are nods to previous continuity, and there are visual cues, and it's working just fine.

But it completely blows it in the third act.

After thinking about it for a while, I think the problem is the complete passivity of Indy in the third act, and, while he's meant to be older and wiser and all that, he uses LESS of his brains than he does in the earlier films.

In RAIDERS, Abner Ravenwood is the one studying the Ark, but it is INDY who puts together the clues to find the thing. In CRUSADE, it is Henry Jones who is the font of Grail Lore, but it is up to Indy to put it all together ("Penitent man, penitent man... IS ON HIS KNEES!") -- but in SKULL once they rescue Oxley, Oxley does all of the work, even showing Indy what to press and how and whatnot.

Further, WAY too many characters at the end, none of whom are really doing a thing (Triple-cross guy really only succeeds in making the commies look absolutely incompetent, rather than moving the plot along), and while the idea of a lost family could have possibly been interesting, Indy and Marion have very little chemistry in their 60s (or whatever), making that last scene feel tacked on and gaggy.

I didn't have a lot of problem with Old Indy, really; although he might have broken a hip in there, I was fine with transferring at least some of the action over to "Mutt" ("We called the dog Indy...") -- but there's no reason that Indy shouldn't have used his BRAIN and TRAINING a whole lot more in the third act. He didn't seem to have a thing to do in the end of his own movie!

At the end of the film, I walked out thinking EH. Here's hoping that maybe it's a reverse-STAR TREK film thing, where the odd # ones are the good ones...

What did YOU think?