16.9.08

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 26

Day 26: Indiana Jones and the Unforeshadowable Ability

Last time out, I covered the film's a laughable attempts to foreshadow Shia Laboeuf's swordfighting abilities. While I've established that it can be difficult to foreshadow things without telegraphing them awkwardly. At the same time, it's important to note that every now and then foreshadowing is completely impossible. This is a problem that laughs in the face of even the greatest writer.

Just as the Jeep chase begins to wind down (about five minutes after it wore out its welcome with the audience) Shia Laboeuf finds himself snatched from his place atop the Jeep by a low hanging vine, then pulled into the jungle canopy above. There he finds an army of monkeys that stare curiously at him, then swing off into the jungle. Wasting no time such basic things as shock or confusion, Laboeuf follows their example and goes swinging through a series of vines in pursuit of the jeep convoy.

That's right. In an Indiana Jones movie Indiana Jones' kid sidekick and a bunch of monkeys chase after a bunch of heavily armed jeeps by swinging on vines through the jungle.

Look, I'm aware that characters in films tend to be a little more capable than a similar person in real life might be, but there are limits to what I, or any other reasonable audience member is willing to accept. Watching Laboeuf swing through the South American jungle on vines, and using said vine-swinging to catch up with jeeps going 20 miles an hour is well beyond that line.

There's any number of reasons why this is incredibly stupid. First and foremost is the idea that the character could have physically performed the act. That's not to say Shia Laboeuf or his character Mutt Williams looks incredibly weak. I'm sure he's in fine shape, but there is a marked difference between the kind of physical strength it takes to say, tune a motorcycle or fence, and the amount of strength it takes to swing through a jungle on a vine. I'm sure the nearly anyone of average strength is capable of holding onto a vine long enough to swing across a gap, that's a given. But the kind of physical strength and reflexes it would take to make a vine transfer, grabbing the exact right vine in the exact right place at the exact right time with one hand is something that could only be performed with years of dedicated training.

Add to this the preposterous idea that there would even be dozens of vines strong enough to hold his weight, all organized in a direct line from where he was hanging to the cliffside path where he intercepted the jeeps, and you have the most ridiculously preposterous action scene in a film literally chock-full of awful action.

I'm sure that there are monkeys out there who are capable of actually doing this, but I'd imagine their ability stems from the fact that they're light enough that almost any vine would support their weight, as well as the way their incredibly strong musculature (in comparison to humans) gives them the ability to hang onto those vines almost indefinitely and leap huge distances between them. Also, as monkeys, they've spent their entire lives living in the jungle learning to swing. Watching a person do the same is flat-out ludicrous.

It's no surprise to me that, despite their love of a awkward foreshadowing the filmmakers made no attempt to preface this activity with an explanation because the only possible way of doing so would have been in the following bit bit of dialogue:

Scene: a Peruvian marketplace. Harrison Ford and Shia Laboeuf walk through the marketplace. In the background MacArthur "Mac" MacElroy eyes them with evil in his heart.

Shia Laboeuf: In addition to fencing I also got really good at swinging on vines in college.
Harrison Ford: Swinging on vines? Is that a normal part of the athletic curriculum?
Shia Laboeuf: No, but our gym teacher was the actual Tarzan, and he felt it was very important material to cover.

See? Indiana Jones and the Valley of the Plastic Prop may be a terribly written movie, but as bad as its writers were, they had enough sense to know that just wouldn't fly.

4 comments:

Jeremy said...

Jesus man...the movie came out four months ago. You had four months for all this fanboy bitching. Let it go.

Vardulon said...

Sorry, Jeremy, I'm only a third of the way through the list. But if you'd like to start up your own blog, complaining about mine, I would welcome that.

Alexander Z. said...

Jeremy,

"Jesus man...the movie came out four months ago. You had four months for all this fanboy bitching. Let it go."
Implying that films can only be discussed shortly after the release and that only devoted fans would be bothered by the cinematic-rape of a treasured series. Also Implying that anybody cares about your goldfish attention span opinion.

About the article:
When the fridge got nuked I conceded that I was disappointed in the movie and I gave up hope that it could redeem itself, the fridge being the ejector-seat for your suspension of disbelief. The Tarzan scene with Shia confirmed my heartbreak and I realized that I didn't care at all about what happens after that point there was nothing left to see.

Alexander Z. said...

Jeremy,

"Jesus man...the movie came out four months ago. You had four months for all this fanboy bitching. Let it go."
Implying that films can only be discussed shortly after the release and that only devoted fans would be bothered by the cinematic-rape of a treasured series. Also Implying that anybody cares about your goldfish attention span opinion.

About the article:
When the fridge got nuked I conceded that I was disappointed in the movie and I gave up hope that it could redeem itself, the fridge being the ejector-seat for your suspension of disbelief. The Tarzan scene with Shia confirmed my heartbreak and I realized that I didn't care at all about what happens after that point there was nothing left to see.