I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 53

Day 53: Indiana Jones and the (far too) Lucky Escape (Part 3)

Today's entry covers yet another example of Indiana Jones' unbelievably convenient luck when it comes to finding his way to safety in even the direst of circumstances. This particular example comes from a sequence that I haven't mentioned as of yet in this series, the motorcycle chase around and through Barnett College, where Harrison Ford teaches when he's not off battling natives and punching Nazis.

I'll cover the details of the chase another day, for now I'll just recap the situation - Harrison Ford is hanging onto the back of Shia Laboeuf's bike as they ride through city streets and college gardens. The chase ends as Shia tricks the commies into ramming into the statue of Denholm Elliot, beheading it and sending the copper dome into one of the Commies' laps. Then the chase ends, and the scene cuts to Harrison Ford's house, as he and Shia go to look a few things up in books (the cornerstone of action filmmaking: always cut directly from a chase scene to a research scene!)


Avod Episode 2: Halloween Special!

That's right folks, just in time for Halloween, the Divemistress and I have teamed up to produce a Halloween-themed Avod, covering everything you need to know to have a spooktacular holiday weekend (as long as it involves watching horror movies, or possibly listening to people talking about them)!

Happy Halloween!
(right click on the previous statement and 'save link as' to enjoy the Avod)

P.S. - In case you're wondering why the Halloween poster wasn't altered at all, it's because you don't mess with perfection.

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 52

Day 52: Indiana Jones and the Useless Whip

Indiana Jones isn't a gimmick character, nor does he only have one note. That is to say, he's not a whip-themed character, and I would never suggest that the films go out of their way to find things for him to whip, because doing so would likely only lead to awkwardness.

That being said, I think it's fair to say that everyone who pays to see an Indiana Jones movie expects to see him using the whip a few times. It doesn't have to be throughout the film, and it doesn't have to be constant, but nonetheless, it's something we expect him to get around to doing at some point. Like James Bond and his Martinis, the audience wants to see Indy cleverly swinging or grabbing things with a whip at opportune moments.


Jon Hamm is the new Alec Baldwin

Not in the acting or celebrity sense - in the Saturday Night Live hosting sense.

Like everyone else, I love Alec Baldwin's performances as SNL's default host, but at some point he's bound to get tired of the job, and once that happens, they're going to need someone to act as a go-to guy for hosting duties, and they won't find anyone better for the job than Jon Hamm.


Thursday Night Avod!

Then it must be the Avod!

That's right, today marks the debut of the webternet's first audio-only vodcast!

A semi-regular feature here at the Castle, the Avod features the divemistress and myself disagreeing about the hot issues in modern genre fiction. Or at least the genre fiction of late August, because that's when the first episode was recorded. And one of the topics is a movie well over a year old that I just didn't get around to watching for quite a while.

But other than that, cutting edge.

So please, enjoy the Avod, which can be downloaded here!

Next time the issues we discuss will be ever so slightly more current: look forward to a discussion of Knight Rider! Maybe even the new one!


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 51

Day 51: Indiana Jones and the Useless Motorcycle

When one looks at all of the terrible payoffs that Indiana Jones and Crystal Kingdom offered, it's easy to miss the big setup that lacked a payoff of any kind. Of course, I speak of Shia Laboeuf's motorcycle.

The character Mutt Williams is introduced riding his motorcycle. This is because the entire visual of the character, no, the entire conception of the character, really only makes sense when associated with motorcycles. Take him away from them, and he starts to look a little silly. Just look at Fonzie. Riding into Arnold's? Great. Strapping on waterskis? Cliche-definingly awful.


CSI Tuesday!

So after last week, when the opening line was so drab that I didn't bother writing about it, CSI: Miami storms back with a vengeance, with Caruso punning his way into television history with one of the most inappropriate things to say at a crime scene ever!

The Scene: Some teen girls have traveled to the near future, where clothing stores have clear panels on the dressing room doors so that people can ogle you while you change, and the mirrors have been replaced by million-dollar wall-sized touchscreen technology that can show you what you'd look like in any outfit, in any location!

When one of the teen girls is killed after that selfsame touchscreen explodes, Horatio is called to the scene, along with the new medical examiner, whose name I haven't learned, and who hasn't made the opening credits, but whose habit of not gently fondling the hair of dead people has already endeared her to me more than Catherine from NewsRadio, who she's replacing.

Generic ME: Horatio, why target a fashion boutique? It seems too random.

Horatio Caine: On the contrary, this was by design.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 50

Day 50: Indiana Jones and the Freudian Interpretation

Today's problem isn't a very large one, but it is indicative of the kind of tone that the film was going for. My real problem is with that overall tone, and therefore these little details really irk me, since each once contributes in its own awful way to to the disastrous overall picture that is Indiana Jones and the Pyramid of the Plastic Head.

This particular scene occurs when Cate Blanchett arrives inside the Area 51 warehouse. Now, for the entire film up until this point Cate Blanchett has had a sword clipped to her belt. The average viewer might find this decision puzzling. After all, why on earth would someone would wear a sword in the middle of the desert during a secret military operation? It's not like she's in America to fight dragons, pirates, or Zorros. Any of those might have improved the film, but sadly, it wasn't to be. Add to this the fact that she spends a good portion of the scene climbing into and out of vehicles, and the sword becomes a ridiculous choice.


You Failed to Make A Movie: Alive or Dead

I don't know why I was expecting anything else. There's a reason slasher films go direct-to-video, after all, but this one was just unreasonably bad.

I'm not going to full describe the film as I usually do, because it's late and I'm tired, so I'm just going to use the magic of point form to lay out my problems with it:

It turns out Andy Kaufman is defintiely dead.

II know this, because last night, Saturday Night Live killed him.

Here's the story, in short form: Recently, Andy Samberg did an uncanny impression of Mark Wahlberg in a sketch titled "Mark Wahlberg talks to animals". Here's a clip of it, along with Mark Wahlberg's flattered response:


So now I have to have contempt for Garth Ennis as well.

I recently read the first issue of Garth Ennis' "Crossed", a new entry in the zombpocalypse genre, in which people desperately band together to flee from the ravening crowd. You may ask "Hey, Count, what separates this particular zombpocalypse comic from all the other ones out there in the market?" Well, in addition to being much worse written, its zombies aren't technically dead yet (like 28 Days Later - also terrible, By The Way), and unlike normal zombies, they absolutely love to rape! Yeah, they can't get enough of that rape. If you forced them to choose between raping and eating flesh, they wouldn't be able to, so instead they'd hit you with a hammer and then do both to you while you were unconscious.

I'm not shocked to see this show up in Garth Ennis' zombie comic, after all, his latest series "The Boys" deals primarily with super-powered rapists and the 'fellas' that work for the CIA and try to put them in their place. Sure, I found the rape scene objectionable, but it was just the unpleasnt cherry atop the worthless pie that is the rest of the comic.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 49

Day 49: Indiana Jones and the Lack of Scope

The film Raiders of the Lost Ark contains two images that I feel people associate with it more than any other. I'm not talking about action scenes, or fun exploding heads, or even glamour shots of Harrison Ford posing for promotional purposes. I'm speaking specifically about single frames that everyone takes away from the movie and identify with it more than any other image. The first, and it's no coincidence that this is the frame that you see more often than on any other when people want to show something from Raiders of the Lost Ark, is Indiana Jones crouched in front of the gold idol preparing to switch it for a bag of sand.

The second image is the one that closes the film: is a matte painting of the storage facility (which Crystal Skull identifies as "Area 51") where the Ark of the covenant is being housed. It's a captivating image that slyly suggests the futility of all Indy's death defying feats while at the same time leaving the audience with the slightly unsettling question of what other items of occult significance the government has stacked up in the facility.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 48

Day 48: Indiana Jones and the Midnight Rocket Train

Today we go back to the beginning of the film and look at a sequence that is among the worst edited in recent memory. And by worst, I don't mean that it contains myriad continuity errors or is over cut to the point of incoherence like a Paul Greengrass Bourne movie, no I'm talking about bizarre editing creating huge lapses in time.

As the film opens it's noon or fairly close to it. We can determine this because the groundhog that pops its head up during the opening has almost no visible shadow. To give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt we're going to assume that it's after noon here, somewhere in the vicinity of one o'clock. The main reason I'm giving this benefit of the doubt is that I don't have the necessary information I would need to nitpick any further, such as in which direction the driveway to Area 51 runs. Somehow I doubt googlemaps would be much help on this one.


Count Vardulon's Picto-Quiz: AVP2!

There's more than a few things wrong with Aliens Versus Predator 2: Requiem, but today isn't about nitpicking myriad flaws. No, that's what every other day is for. Today, on the other hand, is all about reader participation.

In that spirit, I'd like to present the first-ever Castle Vardulon picto-quiz! Below you'll find a series of actual images reduced form actual screenshots captured from an actual DVD of the actual film AVP2:R. So what's the quiz? I have selected thirty-five moments from the film. A number of them have been flipped upside-down. Can you identify which ones they are? I've included descriptions of events transpiring in the pictures to help you out.

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 47

Day 47: Indiana Jones and the Deja Kung Fu

As I've mentioned in a previous entry, the Zombie Monkey Kung Fu Indians weren't a great idea. That being said, I'm sure they would have been more bearable had they not been so bafflingly repetitive. There's a simple rule to go by if you're going to put something odd, or stupid, or cheap in a movie: If it absolutely has to be there, get it onscreen, get it out of the way quickly, and then move on. And whatever you do, if it was ridiculous the first time, don't bring it back. Heck, even things that were absolutely wonderful the first time in a film can find themselves giving off a stink of increativity the second time around.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 46

Day 46: Indiana Jones and the Shamed Name

Today's entry is a pretty obvious problem that I'm sure nearly everyone who saw the film in the theatre noticed. Beyond its obviousness, though, it's deceptively important, and I feel the mistake being made says much more about the filmmakers attitude towards the character than they intended it to. What I talking about? The film's steadfast refusal to refer to its main character by the name "Indiana Jones".

This one was so unexpected and completely out of left field that I almost thought I was hearing things. Or rather not hearing things. Somehow every time a character goes to talk to Indiana Jones they referred to him up by his proper birth name: "Henry Jones Jr". His friends call him that. His enemies call him that. Letters address him as that. Even the government calls him that. Why? That's not his name.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 45

Day 45: Indiana Jones and the Absence of a Good Henchman

When talking about the Indiana Jones franchise the villains tend to get a lot of attention and rightfully so. The first film's 1-2 punch of Belloq and Toht makes for one of the greatest villain combinations of all time, and while Mola Ram doesn't get a lot of screen time in Temple of Doom, it doesn't stop him from being memorably menacing. By comparison, the lack of any quality or even noteworthy villains in Last Crusade is yet another strike that film has against it. As wonderful as those central villains are, though, in praising them we can wind up overlooking the smaller characters that made the film's action sequences so compelling: the henchmen.

Specifically I'm speaking of the three henchmen played by one actor across two films. The actor/stuntman's name is Pat Roach, and he was former British wrestler who cut an imposing figure and could sell a punch like nobody's business. In Raiders of the Lost Ark he portrayed both the giant sherpa who wrestles with Indiana Jones in Marion's bar and the Nazi mechanic who has an unfortunate run in with the flying wing's propeller. He returned for Temple of Doom to don offensive brownface once more as the giant thugee guard who forces Indiana Jones to drink blood and enter the thugee black sleep.


On the Subject of Durham County...

Having been inundated with ads for Durham County for two weeks straight about eight months ago, the delayed-reaction suggestibility part of my brain finally clicked off and I wound up renting it last weekend. I watched the six episodes back to back, and was more than a little puzzled by what I'd seen.

For the most part it's a standard enough story of a guy who loves to murder (Justin Louis), and the incredibly contrived series of interrelated coincidences that conspire to cover up for his crimes. Peep this:

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 44

Day 44: Indiana Jones and the Idiotic Archaeologist Part Five

I'm wrapping up this week with a relatively short article because today's subject really kind of speaks for itself. In fact, while speaking for itself it goes to the trouble of telling the audience in the clearest possible terms exactly what the filmmakers think of Indiana Jones' intellectual capacity. Once again I treat you to some dialogue from the film:

Scene: Indiana Jones has just arrived inside the temple of the crystal skull's treasure room. Before him he finds a huge repository of items from our world's ancient cultures in showroom condition, suggesting that the aliens had traveled the world throughout history collecting items of artistic and cultural value, then stored them inside the temple, safe from any degradation or wear.

Harrison Ford: My God... they were archaeologists!

Again I'm going to have to point out exactly what the filmmakers are trying to get across with this line. They want you, the audience, to think that Indiana Jones is so stupid that he doesn't even know what his own job is.

Archaeology is defined as exploring the lives of people throughout history by examining what traces remain of those lives. Indiana Jones has spent his entire life both doing this and teaching would-be archaeologists about the rewards and difficulties of attempting to understand the people and cultures that existed before us. That is in no way what the aliens were doing.

The film explicitly shows us the aliens have been here for an incredibly long amount of time. In that time they clearly explored the globe studying the cultures of man and collecting notably representative items. How exactly does that differ from what Indiana Jones does? Well, for one thing, the aliens weren't doing it hundreds of years after these societies ceased to exist. They were picking up the artifacts while the cultures were still producing them. This makes the aliens not archaeologists at all, but rather anthropologists. Although even the term 'anthropologist' suggests a scientific interest in studying the races of man that the aliens in no way demonstrate. Really the best term we can use to describe them is simply 'collector'.

That's how stupid this film's incarnation of Indiana Jones is. He can't understand the difference between someone like him who spent his entire life trying to gain a better understanding of the peoples of history, and the person who travels around the world picking up souvenirs to remind him of his trips.

Looking back on this week's articles I realized something. All this time I've been writing about my hatred for Indiana Jones assumed that the fire in my heart and bile in my gut was somehow unique, and that perhaps I hated Indiana Jones more than anyone else in the world. Observing how little respect the filmmakers had to one of the great fictional creations of the past thirty years I find myself realizing that when it comes to hating Indiana Jones, compared to the filmmakers I'm strictly an amateur.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 43

Day 43 Indiana Jones and the Idiotic Archaeologist Part Four

Interestingly, the film seems to tacitly acknowledge the growing idiocy of the Indiana Jones character, in that he never actually has to figure anything out. He's supposed to be a brilliant archaeologist and beloved professor who uses his mind to first to solve the puzzles and uncover historical mysteries, and his gun second, when when threatened by fascists and communists - although he's very nervous about shooting communists for some reason. What's startling about this film is that it never asks Indiana Jones to figure anything out. He's just a character who gets told where to go and what to do, first by communists, then by Shia Laboeuf, then by a crystal skull.


CSI Wednesday!

The Scene: A psychiatrist's home office. The psychiatrist's daughter has been stabbed to death, and now the psychiatrist is refusing to suggest which one of her patients might have done it, despite the fact that, the night before, one of her patients had talked extensively about sneaking into her house and murdering her in exactly the way the daughter died, and then proceeded to threaten the doctor with a gun.

Psychiatrist: I took an oath.
Horatio Caine: So did I.

Sadly, this all happened indoors, so there was no need to put on or take off sunglasses. Sigh.

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 42

Day 42 Indiana Jones and the Idiotic Archaeologist Part Three

Today the idiocy moves out of the jungle and into a malt shoppe, in an earlier scene as Mutt Williams tries to explain to Indiana Jones just why his help was needed to save the day. In trying to ascertain just how he knew Shia Laboeuf's mother, Harrison discovers that her name was "Mary". He then opines that he's 'known' such an incredibly large number of women that just the name Mary isn't in the least bit helpful.

This raises the question of exactly why Indiana Jones would have said that at all. In addition to making it seem like he's bragging about all of the tail he's scored over the years, it's an incredibly dickish thing to say in front of the woman's son. It essentially implies that Indiana Jones is a man of such loose morals and low character that his mother would have had to been a huge tramp to spend any time at all with him back in the day.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 41

Day 41: Indiana Jones and the Idiotic Archaeologist Part Two

When addressing yesterday's problems I left out the most egregious and offensive aspect of the entire scene. That's right, there's something more egregious than the way Indiana Jones, a professor of archaeology, demonstrating a total disdain for all practices of archaeology or, in fact, human decency. No, the absolute stupidest, most offensive thing about the scene is the dialogue.

The scene: Indiana Jones is preparing to open up a mummy for absolutely no reason. He turns to Shia Laboeuf.

Harrison Ford: Do you have a knife?


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 40

Day 40: Indiana Jones and the Idiotic Archaeologist

Throughout these entries concerning Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Plastic Skull, you may have noticed certain themes beginning to crop again and again. Some of these are the normal kinds of things you'd seen in any bad film, such as incompetence at basic filmmaking skills, or contempt for the audience. The most stunning thing I've come across while recapping the film is that the filmmakers seem to be bound and determined to make Indiana Jones look like as much of an idiot as possible.

I can't begin to imagine the motives behind these choices, they could run anywhere from the filmmakers genuinely thinking that their audience were idiots, all the way to assuming that if they made Indiana Jones look terrible it would make new (hopefully franchise) character Mutt Williams look better without actually having to make him interesting or likable. It's even slightly possible that they had some kind of crazed grudge against the character. Whatever the motive that lay behind their actions, it's undeniable that through those actions they took a mallet to a character beloved by millions and turned him into a moron who likely should not be allowed outdoors without supervision.

CSI Monday!

The scene: A party was 'crashed' by a man on fire! Then his barbecued corpse is examined by a sexy lady who, surprise, surprise, is the new medical examiner. After determining that he was doused in something an set on fire, the ME points out that as a living human body burns, the muscles curl up, locking him in the pugilist's pose.

SEXY M.E. WHO ISN"T WEARING A HAIRNET: From the latin 'pugil-' which means "Fights with fists."

(Horatio Caine puts on his sunglasses)

HORATIO CAINE: A fight... To the death.


Batman's Not-Very-Secret Identity

Batman's been around for a few decades now so, despite the fact that he was semi-rebooted back in the 80s, he's got a long enough history that more than a few people have either figured out, or just been told his secret identity. If 2003's "Batman: Family (issue 7)" can be believed, he's just getting lazy.

The setup: After WayneCo CEO Lucius Fox suffers a stroke, Bruce Wayne is convinced to put a mysterious old woman in charge of his multi-billion dollar empire, based solely on the fact that she used to be an acquaintance of Bruce's mother. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that she's the head of a 'family' of criminals out to steal all of his money. In the following scene, Batman has locked one of the 'family' members in a glass cage which, while escape-proof, is by no means soundproof:


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 39

Day 39: Indiana Jones and the Pathetic Trap

Trap rooms don't make the most sense, do they? As conceits go in adventure films, they're among the bigger ones. In an earlier post, I mentioned the invisible bridge from Last Crusade as being especially egregious, but the truth is every film in the series suffers from the problem to a certain extent. Questions about what exactly was powering the crushing ceiling from Temple of Doom, or the Behead-O-Tron from Last Crusade don't go away easily, and it takes a little mystery out of Raiders once you start to imagine the Hovitos creeping into the secret temple, crawling behind walls, and turning elaborate crank systems to reset the spears that skewered Forrestal. And though I've committed the entire film Raiders of the Lost Ark to memory, even I don't have the slightest idea what all those snakes were eating.

This is another one of those areas where the audience is asked to suspend a lot of their disbelief, and as a rule, they're more than happy to, so long as the traps involved are interesting, and put the main characters in a some great degree of threat. Which, naturally, brings us to the single trap room featured in the search for the Crystal Skull. Although, in point of fact, it barely qualifies as a trap room, because it lacks such basic elements as cleverness, originality, or danger of any kind.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 38

Day 38: Indiana Jones and the Blase Secondary Protagonist

So Indy shouldn't have been able to find the graveyard, the appearance of the natives was kind of silly, and showing the entire fight scene from Indiana Jones' sidekick's perspective was an incredibly stupid move, but the most offense thing about the whole fight scene is Shia Laboeuf's reaction to it. Or really lack of reaction to it, I should say.

While the audience is well aware that fighting karate monkey death Indians is a fairly run-of-the-mill afternoon for for Indy, the entire experience pretty much has to be the most interesting thing that has ever happened to Shia Laboeuf, as well as the closest he's ever come to dying. Now, I'm sure he had a few close calls down at the garage, you know, what with cars falling off lifts and such. And there's every chance a few of those of malt shop dust-ups have gone pretty rowdy, but there's a pretty big difference between getting into that kind of trouble and having prehistoric kung fu style monsters shooting poison darts at you in a South American graveyard.


I Should Really Stop Watching Terminator

If it's just going to make me angry. This week, we discovered that Cameron was based on a real person. This isn't a surprise, per se - obviously the Terminators would have better luck pretending to be actual people they killed rather than just random faces.

My problem wasn't with that conceit, but rather that the evil Cameron (as seen murdering the real person she was based on) was making wacky quips to corpses even before she was switched into read/write mode. What possible purpose could quipping to corpses serve a computer?

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 37

Day 37: Indiana Jones and the Off-Camera Action

As if the very existence of the kung fu monkey man zombie natives wasn't bad enough, the way the film chooses to deal with them is even worse. When you've got an idea this bad, finding a way to make it worse seems like an amazing feat - but one should never underestimate these filmmakers, and their dedication to awfulness. So how do they do it? Instead of just having a fight between Indiana Jones, Shia Laboeuf and a number of the monkey men, they move the fight off-camera so that the audience doesn't get to see it.

That's right, you're not reading things, in this movie a fight happens that the filmmakers didn't think was important enough to let the audience see. This isn't used as an off-camera joke either, like Marion knocking out the Arab with a frying pan, then having the body flop out of the doorway into frame. This is an entire action scene that no one seems to think it's a good idea to bother getting on film. For more than a minute Indiana Jones chases natives through the graveyard, running through caves, popping up in unexpected places, doing interesting visual things. Instead of showing them to us, the camera decides to stay with Shia Laboeuf, who stands still with a confused look on his face as if he's having trouble comprehending what's going on around him.