Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Return of Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Director Steven Spielberg and the cast of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

San Francisco- The Castro Theatre:
Seattle- The Cinerama:
Or throw a rock and you'll hit a cinema playing it.

I know that Seattle has currently buried itself in SIFF, but the rest of the cinema going world is in Indiana Jones territory. So, if you need a little break from cutting edge cinema, midnight movies and Sir Ben Kingsley, why not hop over to the Cinerama and indulge in a big old popcorn movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? In my opinion, this Indy film is the best one since the original. I have two words for why that is, Marion Ravenwood.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed both Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but frankly, the female leads in those films sucked. In Temple of Doom, we have scatterbrained Willie Scott, portrayed by Kate Capshaw. She simply has no ability to take care of herself, and you know something, I think an American showgirl living in 1930s Shanghai would be more resourceful and have better survival instincts than Indy or any other man in that period would have or even understand. As for Last Crusade, while Alison Doody's Dr. Elsa Schneider is good to look at, she's laughable as a Nazi femme fatale capable of seducing both Joneses and furthering Hitler's quest to find the Holy Grail. Both of these characters are two dimensional stereo types and contribute little to either film.
In Crystal Skull, Marion, played by the still luminous Karen Allen, asks Indy about the women in his life since their split twenty years prior. He replies, "Yeah, they all had the same problem ... they weren't you." She simply beams and so does the audience, because it rings with emotional and cinematic truth. Marion is very much what is missing from the previous sequels. Marion is smart, resourceful, independent, tough and doesn't let Indy get away with one damn thing. Writer David Koepp, producer George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg made a wise decision to bring Marion back.
They were also wise to avoid trying to reinvent the series. Instead, they provided the audience with what it expects: great non-stop action, film serial style, a supernatural twist to the story and a sense of humor about itself. For variety, it has a new setting, the Fifties, portraying both the decade's exciting future forward outlook and its corresponding political oppressiveness. The filmmakers also apply this mix of traditional and fresh point of view with the character of Indy. It is the same Indy, but a little older, a little grayer but not quite ready to pass the mantle (or the hat) to the younger generation. Bringing Marion back complemented both the approach to the film and to Indy. She is his original love, but they have both changed and matured, and somehow because of that, they seem finally ready for each other.