22.10.08

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.

Which brings me to my point: Why do they bother bringing Shia Laboeuf's motorcycle to Peru if they're not going to bother having him use it? We're treated to a shot of Harrison, Shia, and the motorcycle packed into the back of an airplane, making the long trip down to South America. They arrive, and the motorcycle is never seen again. Why?

Couldn't they have found something to do with it? Couldn't Shia have ridden it to the rescue in the Jungle chase? Maybe Harrison Ford could have traded it in the marketplace (to Shia's supposedly comedic protestations) for something of more value to them in the jungle, like the location of a graveyard perhaps?

There's nothing like that in the film, though, which leaves the motorcycle a loose-hanging thread in an otherwise tightly-plotted... actually, that's not true at all, is it? No, very little of the film actually made sense, but at least they made awful, awful attempts to wrap things up. Here they didn't even bother to do that. So what's the better choice - coming up with an awful resolution, or not even bothering to try?

That's like asking people whether they'd prefer rotten food, or none at all.

6 comments:

John said...

So you've spent 50+ days analyzing an escapist fantasy adventure?

Congrats, you missed the point quite spectacularly.

Vardulon said...

No, I've spent 50+ analyzing an AWFUL escapist fantasy adventure.

What were you saying about points, and the missing thereof?

john said...

Buts its still just some escapist fantasy adventure. Its not something that should be puzzled and marveled after. You nitpick the stupidest things. "Hey, how come the communists didn't just shoot Indy?"

Why don’t Toht, Belloq or Dietrich shoot Indiana Jones when he is hanging on to the front of the Cargo truck?

For that matter why don’t the Germans sitting in the back of the truck shoot through the canvas to knock Indy off his horse when he first shows up?

How does a little kid beat down grown men in Temple of Doom?

How does a large barrel full of water make its way over lava fields without evaporating?

Why would a German pilot need to pilot his plane so close to the ground too shoot a car that he ends up in a tunnel?

Why does Indy decide that running down to the beach in the open is the best way too evade the German plane that is trying to kill him?

Its 50+ posts of whiny fanboy complaining.

Vardulon said...

Wow, you really seem to have a lot of problems with the Indiana Jones franchise - would you like to come on board as a guest poster - I'd be happy to host your rants about problems in the earlier films! After all, someday soon I'll be done complaining about about temple of the plastic skull, and then someone else is going to have to pick up the 'hate indiana jones' torch.

John, I think you're the man for the job.

John said...

No, I love the last three films, and accept them for who they are. I love them BECAUSE they don't stick to rules like that. You could try to relax a bit, and find something better to do with your time.

Vardulon said...

"Why don’t Toht, Belloq or Dietrich shoot Indiana Jones when he is hanging on to the front of the Cargo truck?"

Well, Toht and Belloq don't carry guns - Dietrich only has a pistol, but when Indy winds up on the front of the truck, he's well out of range for accurate shooting with a pistol on an uneven road. So Dietrich decides to have a little fun, and tells the truck driver to crush Indy against the car.

"For that matter why don’t the Germans sitting in the back of the truck shoot through the canvas to knock Indy off his horse when he first shows up?"

They don't see Indy when he rides up - the people in the jeep behind do, and they open fire immediately, but then stop to avoid killing the soldiers in the back of the truck.

What you seem to be missing is that Raiders is the only film I defend in these articles - when I compare Crystal Kingdom to them, it's only to point out how even majorly flawed films like Temple and Crusade managed to get right such basic storytelling and filmmaking elements that Skull lacks.

The beauty of Raiders of the Lost Ark is that - and I follow this up in the Avod, if you'd like a little clarification - it's an action-adventure fantasy that you don't have to like non-critically. You can be as critical as you want with Raiders, and it's still a fantastically good movie. The latter two don't hold up so well, and Crystal Skull wasn't any good to start with.

Hey, what does 'clarified' mean when you're talking about butter? I swear heard someone on a BBC show refer to 'clarified' butter. What is that?

It's fine to like films non-critically. Some of my favorite films are absolutely terrible by any rational and honest criteria of assessment. But when we stop being critical of films entirely, we let filmmakers off the hook for laziness and incompetence, and at that point, as an audience, we stop deserving well-made movies.

If you're looking for holes in Raiders, you're going to be a while. I've seen it nearly a hundred times, and the best I can do is question why they loaded a fake basket onto that truck.