I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 12

Day 12: Indiana Jones and the Atomic Fridge

This one is so screamingly obvious that I can't believe it made it into the film. Profoundly stupid doesn't begin to describe it. I didn't see Crystal Skull the day it came out, I waited a few days and caught it on the next Tuesday. In that five day period, nearly everyone I know saw the film, and each one, talking to me afterwards, was suspiciously cagey about giving me details about the film. In retrospect, it seems they were trying to protect me from going in with any preconceptions that may lead me to be too harsh in condemning the film.

The most detailed information I received was from my colleague Mer-Man while discussing one of the most entertaining parts of the first three Indiana Jones films, just how viciously beat up Harrison Ford gets before managing to pull through and succeed. He maintained that no matter how severe those beatings were, Indiana Jones could have plausibly survived them, and that his survival tagged him not as some sort of superhuman, but just a man with an unusual measure of determination. "This time," Mer-Man explained, "it seemed like the filmmakers were totally unaware of just how little it takes to kill a human being."

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 11

Day 11: Indiana Jones and the Anachronistic Dialogue

Making movies is hard, demanding work. Given that there are dozens of people running off in all directions at any given moment, the fact that they manage to put together anything resembling a work of art can be considered something of a minor miracle.

Mounting a period piece is an even more daunting prospect, and filmmaking mistakes are to be expected, and should be forgiven so long as they're not egregious. Rounding up period props is always difficult, so if a certain make of car wasn't available until a few years after the film was set, or if a beer can uses the modern logo rather than the classic one, it can be overlooked so long as it doesn't affect the overall setting.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 10

Day 10: Indiana Jones and the Two-Dimensional World

Despite the best efforts of Friday the 13th, Jaws, and, to a far, far, lesser extent, Freddy's Dead, films still reside solely in the realm of two dimensionality. No matter how well-composed or vivid an image might be, the viewer only ever experiences it as a flat plane. This phenomenon gives the filmmakers a wide set of tools to play with in tricking the audience. Without two dimensionality, there would be no forced perspective, background matting, or rear-projection, and the dark past of pre-computer effects would have been a very different place.

With this ability comes the temptation for filmmakers to abuse the goodwill of their audience and use two-dimensionality to manipulate what they see in an unrealistic and unfair fashion - by attributing the inability to see in three dimensions to the characters within the film. While not as dire a practice as the similar filmmaking failure, offscreen invisibility, two-dimensional reality is still the hallmark of lazy direction and editing.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 9

Day 9: Indiana Jones and the Insecure Government Facility

If there's one thing Area 51 is famous for, it's the site's relative impregnability. Despite half a century of fame as the most important location in conspiracy lore and alien mysteries, it has never been successfully infiltrated or exposed in any way.

Naturally, the cachet the location carries in the public's mind means that Area 51 shows up an awful lot in fiction, always depicted as the repository of the most absolutely secret and vital experiments and monsters that the US government can find, steal, or bio-engineer.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 8

Day 8: Indiana Jones and the Way-Too-Cute Callback

While I'm on the subject of Indiana Jones' trip to the mysterious Area 51, it's important to mention how hangar 51 is depicted in the film. It's not a hangar for the storage of secret aircraft, or even a workshop for tweaking and altering of said aircraft, but rather the warehouse where the government stacks crate after crate of mysterious and secret paraphernalia, including the Ark of the Covenant.

What's that, you ask? The Ark of the Covenant? The box that the Jews used to haul the Ten Commandments around? The actual stone tablets? Yes, that Ark of the Covenant, last seen at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, being shut in an anonymous box and wheeled off into a secret government storage facility. Wait a minute... government storage facility? Could that place at the end of Raiders have been Area 51?

Well, no.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 7

Day 7: Indiana Jones and the (far too) Lucky Escape

So Harrison Ford finds himself standing in the famous 'Hangar 51', the giant secret warehouse at the heart of Area 51. A dozen commies are pointing guns at him, and he's got a rifle in his hands. Obviously he can't shoot his way out, both because it would be suicidal to try, and because Steven Spielberg won't allow the hero of a film to ever solve a problem with a gun.

Knowing these two facts, I was excited to see how Indiana Jones was going to get out of the situation. While he may not be the type to have a plan for every situation, Indiana Jones has a combination of innate scrappiness and a talent for improvisation that manages to get him out of even the toughest scrapes.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 6

Day 6: Indiana Jones and the Unrelated Opening

Again, I'm going to go to history for this one. The first images of an Indiana Jones film are crucial to setting a tone for the rest of the film. Raiders of the Lost Ark takes its sweet time actually giving us a look at Indiana Jones. We stay with images of the people following him. They're in over their head, and a little fearful of the man in the hat and leather jacket. And who can blame them? From their sweatiness we can glean that it's unpleasantly hot in the South American jungle, and he's wearing a hat and Leather Jacket.

Temple of Doom opens not with Indiana Jones, but Willie Scott, singing a Mandarin version of "Anything Goes". It's a bizarre, entertaining cabaret act that transforms halfway through into a fantastic Busby Berkeley routine, and it sets a playful, fanciful tone that will be subverted half an hour later when we realize that the film is actually about child slavery and human sacrifice. Maybe not the wisest decision, but certainly an interesting one.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 5

Day 5: Indiana Jones and the Curious Gophers

The first shots of an Indiana Jones film follow a very simple formula. Start with the Paramount logo, then fade into a matching shot of a similar mountain. The first film featured a mountain somewhere in South America. The second twisted expectations by fading to a gong with the Paramount logo on it. In the third film we were back to a mountain, the twist that time being that it was some manner of "Young Indiana Jones" standing near it.

It's an integral part of the franchise, so people were obviously excited to see just what that Paramount logo was going to be fading into this time around. Imagine their surprise when it turned out to be a pile of dirt that bares only the slightest of resemblances to the Logo. A little underwhelming, to be sure.