I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 36

Day 36: Indiana Jones and the Inexplicable Attackers

Today's entry concerns a sequence in the film that I found puzzling at the time, and which has only gotten more and more confusing in retrospect. It's a sequence which has no real precedent in the Indiana Jones series, or any decent film for that matter. I'm speaking of the sequence that have occurs right after Indiana Jones in Shia laboeuf arrive at the graveyard, as they're attacked by natives who've made themselves up to look like skeletons from the graveyard.

The question I had at the time which has only grown more relevant in retrospect is: who exactly are these natives? While I'm surprisingly willing to believe that at one time the natives who worship the crystal skull aliens at one time had a large enough kingdom that this graveyard could logically be part of it, the film gives us no reason to believe their numbers are anywhere near large enough to maintain that kind of a presence today. The graveyard is presumably near near the decent-sized city where John Hurt was recently institutionalized. I say presumably because, as mentioned previously, the audience was given no real idea where this graveyard might be or how Indiana Jones found it.

I'm sure that we're supposed to assume that they're the same natives that bedeviled our heroes in the valley of the crystal skull, although I do so only because a second set of unrelated killer natives showing up completely out of left field would make so little sense that I'm forced to give even these filmmakers the benefit of the doubt. If they are from the valley, then how did they get to the graveyard? The standard Indiana Jones red map line display establishes that the graveyard is more than 100 miles away from the starting point of their trek through the jungle. Did the natives walk? If so, how do you decide which natives go to protect the graveyard? That can't be a particularly popular occupation in the valley of the crystal skull. Although, to be fair, the number one line of work in the valley of the crystal skull: "hiding creepily behind breakable walls" isn't any great shakes either.

Also, for natives who presumably devoted no small measure of dedication to this task, they don't seem especially good at it. They seem familiar enough with the layout of the graveyard and are able to peer creepily out of small crevices and dart in and out of a series of warrens with alarming alacrity, but when it comes to sealing the deal and actually killing Shia Laboeuf and Harrison Ford they kind of drop the ball. Obviously we can give them the benefit of the doubt on that one, seeing as Harrison Ford is one of history's greatest ass-kicking machines, but what's their excuse with John Hurt?

The natives failed to kill frail old archaeologist John Hurt when he arrived at their graveyard to steal their sacred crystal skull. If that wasn't bad enough they then also failed to kill even more frail old archaeologist John hurt when he wandered out of the jungle sometime later with all the strength and fighting ability of a doddering dementia patient. Sure, they likely wouldn't have killed him when he was bringing the skull back, since they have a bad habit of bowing down and worshiping anyone who holds it, regardless of race or intent, but once he had been put it back in the cave, shouldn't they have killed him in an attempt to keep him from leaving and telling anyone else where it was? Which, by the way, is exactly what he proceeded to do.

Now compare these characters to the brotherhood of the cruciform sword in Last Crusade. As much as they were just an awkward writer's contrivance to add an extra action scene and then give Indiana Jones information that would have been impossible to find anywhere else*, at least the existence made a little bit of sense. They were just guys who took the divinity of Jesus really seriously and were willing to kill people for going after his stuff. Beyond that one weird thing they seem like a regular enough guys in suits with looking fezzes, and they probably had day jobs outside of the whole religious fanaticism thing.

The Indians in crystal skull seem all the more it ridiculous and unrealistic because it's impossible to imagine them having a life outside of their appearance in the film. The idea of these guys just hang out in the graveyard eating bugs, waiting for someone to show up so they can kill them, like living versions of the trap rooms from Raiders of the Lost Ark, flat-out on-its-face ridiculous, and lowers the film one more notch on the quality meter.

* Seriously, having the head of the brotherhood of the cruciform sword know where Henry Jones is being held is one of the biggest cheats in the entire series. It takes a fairly important question: "where is Sean Connery" and keeps the main character from ever having to ask it. Unfortunately, while this saves the character a lot of leg work it leaves the audience asking "how exactly did he know that?" More importantly it makes Indiana Jones look like an idiot for not asking the logical follow-up question: "who kidnapped him?" A question never asked because the answer, Nazis, would have led the audience to suspect Harrison's austrian sidekick Allison Doody. More than they already did, anyway.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is just a movie, guy. take a chill pill and leave Indiana alone.