I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 32

Day 32: Indiana Jones and the Not-So-Hidden Valley

I've spent a few days now chronicling Harrison Ford's trip to the Valley of the Crystal Skull, but I haven't mentioned the single most ridiculous thing about it: just how amazingly easy the valley should have been to find. Really, it's barely hidden at all.

The film makes a great deal of hay about how incredibly hidden the mysterious temple of the skull is, and how people have been searching for it for hundreds of years with only the slightest amount of success. That, however, was before the advent of aeroplanes. It seems that the valley, while surrounded on all sides by thick jungles and raging rivers, is completely visible from the air. There's no overhanging canopy, or optical illusions created by waterfalls, or even thick foliage within the valley that might obscure it from the sky. No, all the valley contains is a square mile of surprisingly well-groomed grass, and a gigantic pyramid.

Sure, a hundred years before the film takes place, desperately searching through the jungle with the aid of a manic, brain-damaged guide might have been the most viable way of tracking down the lost city, but now that aeroplanes are cheap and readily available, why couldn't the Russians just send out some scout planes to look for it? They know that the temple is somewhere within walking distance for a elderly starving Englishman, so even if a single plane could only cover something like a fifty square miles a day, how long could it really take? The film establishes that the Russians were down in South America for quite some time, even before they kidnapped Harrison Ford and dragged him out to Area 51. So why not send out a few recon flights? It has to be easier than inventing a contrabulous fabraption and using it to hew the entire rainforest down.

If only finding the ark of the covenant or the holy grail has been this easy. The first was buried under a desert, and the second was accessible only through a small entrance in a remote canyon. The Temple of Doom doesn't count, since Harrison wasn't actually looking for it, he just kind of stumbled over that whole adventure.

Would having the protagonists simply parachute into the valley been a heck of a lot more anticlimactic? Certainly. But it would have spared us that jungle chase. Seriously though, how hard would it have been to cover up the valley a little? Make it so that some kind of an alien-caused earthquake had closed the valley up around the temple, so that just a small crack let light inside. That's a pretty good visual, and it would have done a good job of concealing a pretty big plot hole. Hell, even if they'd found it from the air, the story still could have rationalized the trek through the jungle to get there (bad weather preventing parachuting, them wanting to move a lot of equipment, magnetic interference screwing up compasses or tearing planes apart). All they succeeded in doing by having the temple be so visible from the air is make all the characters in the film look kind of stupid.

Once again.

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